General Chemistry I

Purpose of Course  showclose

This chemistry survey is designed to introduce students to the world of chemistry.  The principles of chemistry were first identified, studied, and applied by ancient Egyptians in order to extract metal from ores, make alcoholic beverages, glaze pottery, turn fat into soap, and much more.  What began as a quest to build better weapons or create potions capable of ensuring everlasting life has since become the foundation of modern science.  Take a look around you: chemistry makes up almost everything you touch, see, and feel, from the shampoo you used this morning to the plastic container that holds your lunch.  In this course, we will study chemistry from the ground up, learning the basics of the atom and its behavior.  We will use this knowledge to understand the chemical properties of matter and the changes and reactions that take place in all types of matter.

This course provides students the opportunity to earn actual college credit. It has been reviewed and recommended for 3 credit hours by The American Council on Education (ACE). While credit is not guaranteed at all schools, we have partnered with a number of schools who have expressed their willingness to accept transfer of credits earned through Saylor. You can read more about our ACE program here.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to CHEM101: General Chemisty 1.  General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Joanna Smithback, Ph.D. and Rachel Lerebours

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials. This course combines the resources listed below for a series of readings and corresponding mini-lectures.  Unit assessments were developed by the Saylor Foundation. Requirements for Completion: This course comprises a variety of lectures and reading materials.  Assessments with answer keys are found at the end of each unit to assist you in the mastery of each section.  To successfully complete this course, you must score at least a 70% on the cumulative final.

Time Commitment: This course should take approximately 94 hours to complete, exclusive of the final exam.  The 50-question exam should take no more than 2 hours.

Tips/Suggestions: The material in this course is progressive.  If you find that you are having difficulty understanding some of the concepts, it is suggested that you revisit the previous unit of this course or review the information contained in the prerequisite courses.  A printed periodic table—containing element names, symbols, and atomic masses—and a calculator are also suggested for use throughout this course. They are also allowed to be used on the final exam.

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • define chemistry;         
  • distinguish between the physical and chemical properties of matter;
  • distinguish between mixtures and pure substances;
  • describe the arrangement of the periodic table;
  • perform mathematical operations involving significant figures;
  • convert measurements into scientific notation;
  • explain the law of conservation of mass, the law of definite composition, and the law of multiple proportions;
  • summarize the essential points of Dalton’s atomic theory;
  • define what an atom is;
  • describe electron configurations;
  • draw Lewis structures for molecules;
  • name ionic and covalent compounds using the rules for nomenclature of inorganic compounds; and
  • explain the relationship between enthalpy change and the tendency for reactions to occur.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language; and

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Preliminary Information

  • Optional Mobile Apps

    Link: Quick Learning LLC’s Quick Periodic Table of the Elements (iOS App) or Socratica LLC’s Periodic Table (Android App)
    Instructions: Both of these free apps will be great references as you work through this course. In these apps, you can choose one of 4 different views of the periodic table to access information such as the atomic mass, atomic number, chemical and physical characteristics, electron configuration, and Lewis dot structure.
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit Outline show close