Chemistry Proficiency Exam

Students having a strong background in chemistry are encouraged to take the chemistry proficiency exam which can provide proficiency credit in one or two general chemistry courses. The proficiency exam is offered at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters only. Students are allowed to take the proficiency exam only once per semester.  There is no fee for taking the proficiency exams.

The Fall 2020 Chemistry Proficiency Exam will be offered in an on-line format.  We have no other information at this time.  



Plan to arrive twenty minutes before the exam begins. Late arrivals are NOT permitted. Bring a calculator, pencils, erasers, and University ID.  Proctors will not provide supplies. TI-Nspire calculators, cell phone calculators, or other calculators with wireless connectivity are not permitted.  COME PREPARED.

Proficiency exams are Pass/Fail.  Students are not given their grades for these exams. Students are sent an email that states a pass or fail.  Passing scores are reported to college offices.  There is no penalty for failing a proficiency exam.

General Chemistry Proficiency Exam Info

The Chem 102 exam is multiple choice and is designed to test proficiency in the major topics covered in the University of Illinois general chemistry curriculum.  It provides 3 hours of credit equivalent to Chem 102. A student may then take the Chem 104 (shorter) exam concentrating on thermodynamics and kinetics for an opportunity to earn 3 hours of credit equivalent to Chem 104 (6 hours total). Both the Chem 102 exam and the Chem 104 (shorter) exam are given during the scheduled 3 hour time period. 

If a student has 3 hours of Chem 102 credit (AP credit, proficiency credit, or other equivalent course credit), then they are eligible for the Chem 104 (full) exam. The Chem 104 exam begins at the same time as the Chem 102 exam. Students must request the Chem 104 exam from a proctor before the exams begin.

The Chem 104 exam has two versions (both multiple choice).

  • The physical version of the exam emphasizes thermodynamics, electrochemistry, kinetics, properties of solids, liquids and solutions, nuclear chemistry, organic chemistry and polymer chemistry.
  • The biological version of the Chem 104 exam emphasizes organic and biochemistry more, but also tests knowledge in thermodynamics, electrochemistry and kinetics.

No proficiency credit is granted for general chemistry lab courses.

The additional shorter exam covers thermodynamics and kinetics exclusively and in much more detail.

Students are provided with a periodic table and standard formulae and constants along with the exam materials.   

We do not make previous exams or other exam materials available for study.  Any first-year chemistry textbook will provide adequate resources for study.

Time allowed for Proficiency exams

  • Chem 102 Proficiency Exam: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Chem 104 (shorter) Exam: 50 minutes
  • Chem 104 (full) Exam, Physical or Biological: 3 hours

The Chem 104 (short) exam does NOT have to be taken but is recommended if you believe you scored 70% or higher on the Chem 102 Proficiency Exam and wish to possibly receive credit on the Chem 104 exam.

Examination Conduct

  • Students are expected to turn off or silence their cell phones and put them away BEFORE they enter the exam room. Cell phones are not to be accessed until the student leaves the examination room.
  • Students who become disruptive or aggressive will be asked to leave the exam room.
  • Security will be called for students who fail to leave the exam room when asked and continue with inappropriate behavior.
  • There will be zero tolerance for any aggression whatsoever towards the proctors of this exam.

Information Regarding the Exam materials that will be repeated on the day of the exam


  • The exam booklet may not be taken apart.
  • The periodic table, constants sheets, scantron answer form, exam booklet, and all scratch paper MUST be turned in at the end of the exam.
  • Exam materials DO NOT leave the exam room.
  • A simple calculator and pencil are necessary for the exam. Pens and TI-Nspire calculators are NOT allowed.

Reminder: Pencils, erasers, and calculators will NOT be provided.

Exam results are sent via individual e-mail to each person who took the exam.  The exam is Pass/Fail only. 

No scores or grades are recorded.  Only passes are submitted to college offices.  Fails are not reported.

Students with documented accommodations through the campus's DRES office who wish to take the chemistry proficiency exam(s) are urged to contact both DRES and Keena Finney at least two weeks before a scheduled exam date to arrange for an exam.  Due to exam security requirements, a proficiency exam may only be taken on one of the two scheduled dates of a given semester. 

If, after reading carefully the above information, further questions regarding the General Chemistry Proficiency Exams exist, please direct them to:

Keena Finney, Office Manager
1026 Chemistry Annex
Phone: 217-333-3015