This program is for students who are NOT CHEM majors or BCHM majors. 

The purpose of CHEM P3 is to guide you to the correct beginning chemistry course at CU Boulder. Several assessments are available in order to determine the course that is suited for you based on your background in chemistry and math. Your performance on the assessments, along with a conversation with your academic advisor, will help you to select a chemistry course in which you should be successful.

This program will help you decide between General Chemistry 1 (CHEM 1113/1114) and Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 1021).


  • For the overview of the CHEM P3 click here
  • Read the course descriptions for beginning chemistry course options here 
  • Based on the course descriptions, the stated pre-requisites and your currently declared major, select the course for which you believe you are best suited. If you have identified CHEM 1021 at this point, you don’t need to continue with CHEM P3.  If CHEM 1113 and 1114 seem right for you proceed to Step 1.


Step 1: Considering Enrollment in CHEM 1113/1114?

Review and AssessReview materials covering fundamental math and chemistry concepts/skills are available for your review. Within these materials are several assessments to check your knowledge as you go. Complete as much or as little of these materials as you need, depending on your background and success on the embedded review assessments. Form an opinion as to how ready you are for college-level chemistry.

As with any assessment, the most realistic indication of your abilities result when you complete each assessment without outside assistance such as reference texts, Internet searches, classmates, friends, etc. Outside help won’t give you a true picture of your abilities and you will run the risk of beginning chemistry at an inappropriate level. Please be honest with yourself regarding your abilities and background in order to select the appropriate course for your upcoming registration.

Take the Preliminary Self-Assessment : This 30-question multiple-choice assessment should be completed PRIOR to your academic advising appointment for the current registration period. A score of 80% or greater indicates readiness for CHEM 1113/1114; less than 80%, suggests that CHEM 1021, or no chemistry at this time, may be a better option for you. Record your PSA score so that you can have an honest and realistic conversation with your advisor. If, after taking the PSA you believe CHEM 1021 is a better fit for you, you do not need to complete the remaining steps in CHEM P3.

Step 2: Enrolled in CHEM 1113/1114?

Prepare for the Sapling Course Readiness Assignment by using:

  • The review materials in Step 1, if you haven’t already.
  • The ALEKS CHEMISTRY, an online adaptive learning system. ALEKS is available for a modest fee granting 90-days of access. Please see the information in the ALEKS FAQs below for accessing ALEKS CHEMISTRY for CU Boulder.  A score of between 80% and 100% on ALEKS indicates a readiness for CHEM 1113/1114.

If you are finding this material to be difficult, consider switching to Introductory Chemistry, CHEM 1021, in order to better prepare for CHEM 1113/1114.

Step 3: Still Enrolled in CHEM 1113/1114?

Complete the Sapling Course Readiness Assignment.

This assignment is administered through Sapling, the electronic homework system used the entire semester for homework assignments. You will need to create an account on Sapling – see instructions in the course syllabus on Canvas.

This assignment on Sapling will open just prior to the start of classes and close at the end of the first week according to the course schedule on Canvas. The assignment is not “graded” so it is in your best interest to complete the assignment without any outside help to gain a realistic assessment of your readiness for this class. Credit for completion of the assessment (1%) will be applied toward the final course grade.  Your instructor will review the assignment results and advise you to adjust your schedule if results warrant. If your performance on the assignment is not strong, your options are to:

  • Drop CHEM 1113 and 1114 and attempt to add CHEM 1021 IF you feel prepared to begin chemistry at this time. This schedule adjustment can be made, if there are seats available, through the registration system prior to the ADD deadline for the term of enrollment (  If your decision to drop CHEM 1113 and 1114 is made after the add deadline, CHEM 1021 can be added through the DROP deadline by seeing the administrative staff in EKLC M199. You should note that there is no guarantee that there will be spaces in CHEM 1021 or that CHEM 1021 will fit into your existing schedule.
  • Drop CHEM 1113 and 1114 and postpone taking chemistry until a later semester. You can take CHEM 1021 in a future semester at CU Boulder or take an introductory chemistry course elsewhere. Your course instructor and academic advisor can discuss these options with you.

If you must remain in the course for extenuating reasons, discuss your performance with your course instructor and develop an action plan that addresses your weaknesses.


No, ALEKS CHEM is not timed.

Yes. You can logout at any time and when you login again you will be taken to the point where you left off. Just be sure to submit an answer to a question: ALEKS does not remember partially completed questions.

Your Student Account Page will appear and you can select, from your list of course or courses, the “Chem 1113 General Chemistry Skills Assessment” course.

Click on your course; you will see a new screen with tutorials (entering subscripts, superscripts, fractions; using the calculator, Periodic Table, etc.) to help you navigate in ALEKS CHEM.

ALEKS CHEM is an artificial intelligence-based teaching tool.

ALEKS CHEM will have you complete a brief tutorial before your Initial Assessment begins so you are familiar with how the system works. ALEKS CHEM provides online access to a calculator, the Periodic Table, and useful data such as fundamental constants (e.g., Avogadro’s number).

ALEKS CHEM first assesses (Initial Knowledge Check) exactly what you know and need to learn in general chemistry and its prerequisites from high school, and it reports the results of this assessment in the ALEKS CHEM Pie Chart.

Never click the “I don’t know” button during Initial Knowledge Check unless you really have no idea of how to do the problem. Otherwise, ALEKS CHEM assumes you don’t know many things you may actually know; Start My Path would then begin at a very basic level and make you “learn” many topics that you have already mastered.

The Initial Knowledge Check consists of approximately 30 questions and should take no longer than 60 to 90 minutes.

Once ALEKS CHEM determines your level of knowledge, it will present you with only those topics meeting the following criteria: (a) you don’t already know how to do an item or (b) you are ready to learn a topic based on what you know already. This is accomplished in the Learning Mode “Start My Path”.

Work on the ALEKS CHEM carefully and honestly! It is the way ALEKS CHEM finds out about you, asking what you already know and are therefore ready to learn. If you do this assessment carelessly or answer randomly, you’ll waste time later because ALEKS CHEM will force you to work through material you know and don’t need to review. Always read and follow the on-screen instructions very carefully and do the work on your own. Your goal is to learn for mastery, gain confidence, and enhance your success in chemistry.