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Proficiency Exams

Newly admitted Chemistry graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.) must demonstrate proficiency in at least three areas of chemistry (i.e., analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, or physical). Newly admitted Biochemistry graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.) must demonstrate proficiency in biochemistry. All graduate students must complete this requirement by the conclusion of their 4th semester. Any graduate student not meeting this requirement may be dismissed from the graduate program.

There are two ways to demonstrate proficiency in each area:.

1) Pass standardized, undergraduate level exam at the 50th percentile or higher. Graduate students may take each exam up to three times. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department offers these exams each August, December, and May.

2) Pass selected courses with a course grade of 'B' or better. A 'B−'or lower does not fulfill this requirement. A list of the approved course(s) can be found on the Department website.

Completing this requirement demonstrates a functional understanding and knowledge base of chemistry or biochemistry that will aid you throughout your graduate studies and future career.

Below is a list of some course descriptions and textbooks that have been used for the related undergraduate courses in our department here at BYU. Other textbooks written for courses at the same level should serve equally well for study purposes.

Analytical (one or two semesters beyond Freshman or General Chemistry)

Douglas A. Skoog, F. James Holler, and Stanley R. Crouch, Principles of Instrumental Analysis, 6th Edition. Brooks Cole, 2006. Exam topics can include: aqueous analytical methods, modern instrumental methods and basic principles of instrumentation.

Biochemistry (two semesters with organic chemistry prerequisite)

D.L. Nelson and M.M. Cox, Lehninger - Principles of Biochemistry, Sixth Edition, Worth Publishers, New York, 2013. Exam topics can include: molecular components of cells, chemical structure and function, enzymes, metabolic transformations, photosynthesis, replication and transcription, and protein synthesis.

Inorganic (one semester beyond a two-semester general chemistry course)

D.F. Shriver and P. Atkins, Inorganic Chemistry, Fourth Edition, W.H. Freeman and Company, 2006. Exam topics can include: elemental properties, periodic trends, atomic structure, group theory, molecular orbital, valence bond and crystal field theory, solids,

coordination compounds, organometallic chemistry, reaction mechanisms, acids and bases, electrochemistry, and bioinorganic chemistry.

Organic (two semesters)

Smith, Organic Chemistry, 4th Edition. Exam topics can include: molecular structure and bonding, acidity/basicity/pKa, nomenclature of organic compounds, conformations of acyclic and cyclic molecules, stereochemistry of organic compounds, reactions of different organic functional classes, mechanisms of common organic reactions, synthesis of organic compounds, and spectroscopic identification of organic compounds.

Physical (two semesters)

P. Atkins, Physical Chemistry, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, Eighth Edition, 2006. Exam topics can include: states of matter, thermodynamics and equilibria, kinetic-molecular theory, quantum mechanics, atomic structure, spectroscopy, and group theory.


Department Copies

The Graduate Program Administrative has copies of the study guides for the General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry ACS exams, as well as a textbook and solutions manual for Physical Chemistry. Listed below is information on each study guides.

TITLE: Preparing for your ACS Examination in General Chemistry: The Official Guide
AUTHORS: Eubanks, Lucy T. and I. Dwaine


TITLE: Preparing for Your ACS Examination in Organic Chemistry : The Official Guide
AUTHOR: Eubanks, I. Dwaine


ACS Practice Exams - For Purchase

The American Chemical Society does not produce study guides for analytical chemistry or biochemistry exams. All of the practice exams are available online through ACS and can be found here: http://shopping.na1.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.3773982/sc.11/category.-111/it.C/.f .

Chemistry & Biochemistry