New Mexico Requirements for Passing High School Chemistry | General Chemistry 1

Is Chemistry Required in High School in New Mexico?

New Mexico has a robust science curriculum standard for high schools in the state. In order to graduate high school, students must complete 3 credits in science, with 2 of those credits requiring a lab component, along with specific competency requirements to measure their progress. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires students to take the NM Assessment of Science Readiness (NM-ASR). In addition to the required course work and NM-ASR, high school students are also required to choose a pathway to demonstrate college and/or career readiness that can include taking one of the several available tests. The tests students can choose from include:

ACT Science (20)
Pre-ACT Science (20)  
ACT Aspire Science (431)  
ACT WorkKeys Applied Technology (3)  
AP Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, or Physics (2) 
ASVAB AFQT Composite (31)  
IB Experimental Sciences (4)  
SAT Subject Chemistry (640), 
SAT Ecological Biology (590), 
SAT Molecular Biology (620)
SAT Physics (630)  

Students have a lot of flexibility in their high school pathways, and the state has laid out STEM Ready course outlines tailored to specific career disciplines. For schools teaching chemistry-related career pathways, students can follow this example course roadmap on their road to college:

Engineering Design

  • HS-ETS1-1 - Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  • HS-ETS1-2 - Design a solution to a complex real-world problem.
  • HS-ETS1-3 - Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • HS-ETS1-4  - Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.

Structures and Properties of Matter

  • HS-PS1-1 - Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms. [Clarification Statement: Examples of properties that could be predicted from patterns could include reactivity of metals, types of bonds formed, numbers of bonds formed, and reactions with oxygen.] 
  • HS-PS1-3 - Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on understanding the strengths of forces between particles, not on naming specific intermolecular forces (such as dipole-dipole). Examples of particles could include ions, atoms, molecules, and networked materials (such as graphite). Examples of bulk properties of substances could include the melting point and boiling point, vapor pressure, and surface tension.]
  • HS-PS1-8 - Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on simple qualitative models, such as pictures or diagrams, and on the scale of energy released in nuclear processes relative to other kinds of transformations.] 
  • HS-PS2-6 - Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the attractive and repulsive forces that determine the functioning of the material. Examples could include why electrically conductive materials are often made of metal, flexible but durable materials are made up of long-chained molecules, and pharmaceuticals are designed to interact with specific receptors.]

Chemical Reactions

  • HS-PS1-2 - Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties. [Clarification Statement: Examples of chemical reactions could include the reaction of sodium and chlorine, of carbon and oxygen, or of carbon and hydrogen.] 
  • HS-PS1-4 - Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that a chemical reaction is a system that affects the energy change. Examples of models could include molecular-level drawings and diagrams of reactions, graphs showing the relative energies of reactants and products, and representations showing energy is conserved.] 
  • HS-PS1-5 - Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on student reasoning that focuses on the number and energy of collisions between molecules.]
  • HS-PS1-6 - Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the application of Le Chatelier’s Principle and on refining designs of chemical reaction systems, including descriptions of the connection between changes made at the macroscopic level and what happens at the molecular level. Examples of designs could include different ways to increase product formation including adding reactants or removing products.]
  • HS-PS1-7  - Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical ideas to communicate the proportional relationships between masses of atoms in the reactants and the products, and the translation of these relationships to the macroscopic scale using the mole as the conversion from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem-solving techniques.]


  • HS-PS3-1 - Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explaining the meaning of mathematical expressions used in the model.] 
  • HS-PS3-2 - Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects). [Clarification Statement: Examples of phenomena at the macroscopic scale could include the conversion of kinetic energy to thermal energy, the energy stored due to position of an object above the earth, and the energy stored between two electrically-charged plates. Examples of models could include diagrams, drawings, descriptions, and computer simulations.]
  • HS-PS3-3 - Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of devices. Examples of devices could include Rube Goldberg devices, wind turbines, solar cells, solar ovens, and generators. Examples of constraints could include use of renewable energy forms and efficiency.]
  • HS-PS3-4 - Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics). [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on analyzing data from student investigations and using mathematical thinking to describe the energy changes both quantitatively and conceptually. Examples of investigations could include mixing liquids at different initial temperatures or adding objects at different temperatures to water.]
  • HS-PS3-5 - Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include drawings, diagrams, and texts, such as drawings of what happens when two charges of opposite polarity are near each other.]

Human Sustainability

  • HS-ESS3-2 - Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the conservation, recycling, and reuse of resources (such as minerals and metals) where possible, and on minimizing impacts where it is not. Examples include developing best practices for agricultural soil use, mining (for coal, tar sands, and oil shales), and pumping (for petroleum and natural gas). Science knowledge indicates what can happen in natural systems—not what should happen.]
  • HS-ESS3-5 - Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth's systems. [Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence, for both data and climate model outputs, are for climate changes (such as precipitation and temperature) and their associated impacts (such as on sea level, glacial ice volumes, or atmosphere and ocean composition).] 
  • HS-ESS3-6 - Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth systems to be considered are the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and/or biosphere. An example of the far-reaching impacts from human activity is how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in an increase in photosynthetic biomass on land and an increase in ocean acidification, with resulting impacts on sea organism health and marine populations.] 

Earth’s Systems

  • HS-ESS2-4 - Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate. [Clarification Statement: Examples of the causes of climate change differ by timescale, over 1-10 years: large volcanic eruption, ocean circulation; 10-100s of years: changes in human activity, ocean circulation, solar output; 10-100s of thousands of years: changes to Earth's orbit and the orientation of its axis; and 10-100s of millions of years: long-term changes in atmospheric composition.] 
  • HS-ESS2-5 - Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on mechanical and chemical investigations with water and a variety of solid materials to provide the evidence for connections between the hydrologic cycle and system interactions commonly known as the rock cycle. Examples of mechanical investigations include stream transportation and deposition using a stream table, erosion using variations in soil moisture content, or frost wedging by the expansion of water as it freezes. Examples of chemical investigations include chemical weathering and recrystallization (by testing the solubility of different materials) or melt generation (by examining how water lowers the melting temperature of most solids).]
  • HS-ESS2-6 - Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on modeling biogeochemical cycles that include the cycling of carbon through the ocean, atmosphere, soil, and biosphere (including humans), providing the foundation for living organisms.]

New Mexico Specific Standard

  • HS-SS-1 - Obtain and communicate information about the role of New Mexico in nuclear science and 21st century innovations including how the national laboratories have contributed to theoretical, experimental, and applied science; have illustrated the interdependence of science, engineering, and technology; and have used systems involving hardware, software, production, simulation, and information flow. [Clarification Statement: Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Very Large Array, White Sands, Air Force Research Laboratory, Genome Research, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, New Mexico Highlands University, etc.]  

Does New Mexico Award Credit for Passing the AP Chemistry Exam?

The New Mexico Higher Education Department stipulates that post-secondary schools in New Mexico shall only award Lab credit if an AP course had a lab. If it did not have a lab, the student will need to take the lab associated with the class for the credit given. It also sets the standard for AP Chemistry exam credit as follows:

  • Score of 3 - CHEM 1110/1110L. or 1110C. Chemistry in Our Community and Lab*
  • Score of 4 - CHEM 1215/1215L. or 1215C. General Chemistry I for STEM Majors and Lab*
  • Score of 5 - 
    • CHEM 1215/1215L. or 1215C. General Chem I for STEM Majors and Lab; AND
    • CHEM 1225/1225L. or 1215C. General Chem II for STEM Majors and Lab