Chemistry Placement Exam

What Is the Chemistry Placement Exam (CPE)?

The Chemistry Placement Exam (CPE) is an online tool used to place students into a general chemistry course appropriate for their background. Students with sufficient chemistry background as indicated by a “passing” mark on the CPE satisfy the required prerequisite to enroll in CH 101, Chemistry: A Molecular Science, or CH 103, General Chemistry I for Students in Chemical Sciences. Those students for whom remedial work is indicated have the following options to satisfy the prerequisites for enrolling in CH 101 or CH 103: (1) taking and passing with a C- or better, CH 111, Preparatory Chemistry or (2) electing to complete satisfactorily a series of online “modules” and subsequent evaluative examination. See further details below in Section IX.

Does This Apply to Me?

  • The CPE is mandatory for any student wishing to enroll in CH 101 or CH 103 during an academic year. One cannot enroll in CH 101 without satisfactory completion of the CPE.
  • Take the CPE: (i) if you contemplate a major or degree program requiring CH 101 or CH 103 even if not certain about it or (ii) if you intend or think you may wish to change majors or degree programs to one that requires CH 101 or CH 103.
  • The CPE does NOT apply to students wishing to register for CH 111 or for CH 100 nor is it required for students who have no need to register for CH 101. The CPE is a prerequisite for CH 101 and CH 103 only.
  • For further specifications by College, see the following:


  • The delivery and assessment of the CPE and Modules will not be affected by the impact to on-campus activities by COVID-19.
  • The CPE is available between February 22 and August 20, 2021 for placement into CH 101 (and CH 103) for the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters.  The CPE will reopen between September 27, 2021 and January 20, 2022  for CH placement for the Spring 2022 semester
  • The earlier one takes the CPE, the earlier one can register for the appropriate course. Note that submission of the CPE after May 21, 2021 could result in being enrolled in a course section that is not convenient for your schedule or finding sections unavailable.
  • Plan to allow some time for study prior to the date you plan to take the CPE. This tool is designed to help you, but it does have consequences. Take it seriously and prepare.

Academic Honor

The purpose of the CPE is to HELP you be successful in chemistry here at NCSU. It is therefore imperative that the CPE reflect your own work so that you can be best advised regarding your chemistry placement. We consider the Honor Code of NC State operative for the CPE (see:, especially section 2.12). That is, you are bound by the Code of Student Conduct having accepted admission to NC State. Specifically, no outside materials or assistance may be used or accessed during the sitting of the CPE save for those tools explicitly described below.

No print or electronic copy of the CPE may be given, provided, sold, or otherwise conveyed to any other party.

The NC State honor pledge: “I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this test or assignment.”


The CPE is composed of 4 survey questions and 36 questions on chemistry and math topics. The CPE is deployed online via Moodle, a course management system. Students must have their NC State-issued Unity ID and password to log into the Moodle site. Students will have 60 minutes upon accessing the exam to complete the questions. Only a single login is permitted; each question allows for one submission. Students will also need a calculator capable of exponential and logarithmic computations. A web link to a periodic table is provided within the exam and below.

Students With Disabilities

To qualify for a testing accommodation, the student must (1) be registered with the DRO office at North Carolina State University and (2) request an accommodation for the CPE. See:

  1. Arrange for confirmation of registration with DRO to be sent to Dr. Warren at;
  2. Register into the CPE Moodle Course, but do NOT open the CPE itself;
  3. Email Dr. Warren to confirm that you have registered into the CPE Moodle Course;
  4. You will be contacted by return email once the time window for the accommodation has been set;
  5. You may begin the CPE at your convenience.

Before the Exam

  1. Background Preparation: To ensure your best performance on the exam, please use high school, online or other resources to review:
    • Stoichiometry.
    • Naming/identification of elements; compounds; polyatomic ions; acids & bases; chemical formulae.
    • Periodic table and properties.
    • Atomic structure.
    • Gas laws.
    • Solutions and concentration (dilution).
    • Phase changes and energy changes of reactions.
    • Math skills (through pre-calculus).
    • SI system of units; temperature units and conversion.

    Some free web sites for background information:

    These sites cover most topics in a first-year chemistry high school or college course. These sites have many videos covering topics beyond the level of the CPE, so select those videos with topics that match up with the list above.

  2. Final Preparations:
    • Ensure a distraction-free environment for the sixty (60) minute duration of the examination. No communication with another person or computer/internet source is permitted save for accessing the CPE.
    • Make sure your calculator (capable of exponential and logarithmic computation) is charged and/or that you have extra batteries. Have an extra pen or pencil and scratch paper available. Once the CPE is entered, the clock is irrevocably started. These are the only materials permitted. No equation sheets or other aids are allowed.
    • Read all of the section on Taking the Exam BEFORE actually starting the CPE.

Taking the Exam

  1. Placement Exam Login and Password: Students must have their NC State-issued Unity ID and password register on the Moodle site. These two items are issued to students soon after students have been accepted to the university and entered their profile information into WolfPAW. For more information, see the websites below:
  2. Accessing the Placement Exam:
    • A link to the NC State Moodle site is here.
    • Login on the left side of frame, under “Returning to this web site?” using your NC State Unity ID and password. Do NOT create a new account. Do NOT login as a guest.
    • The course “Chemistry Placement Exam: Fall 21 – Spring 22” will appear near the top of the link and an option to enroll will be available. Choose YES.
    • Please select “Chemistry Placement Exam: Fall 21 – Spring 22” a second time under the Topic Outline.
    • A description of the exam will appear. When you are ready to take your exam in 60 minutes, select CONTINUE.
  3. Printing a Copy: You may print a copy of the CPE for your use during the exam if this is more convenient than viewing the screen. The copy must be destroyed after the CPE is completed (see Academic Honor statement). DO NOT however, close your browser – the CPE must remain open.
  4. Browser Issues:
    • Some difficulties have been experienced when using Moodle with Internet Explorer. For more stable performance, another browser is recommended.
    • Do not close your browser window once the CPE has been initiated. Once begun, the exam must be completed in its entirety.

After the Exam (Score Interpretation)

The software will provide feedback to you regarding your CPE results:

  • A score of 15 or greater is considered “passing” and as having satisfied the Placement Exam requirement. The student may enroll freely in CH 101. One who scores in the 15-18 range is advised to consider a less rigorous course schedule to allow for the extra study time likely required by CH 101.
  • A score of 14 or lower indicates the need for further study in chemistry prior to enrollment in CH 101. There are several options listed below, ONE of which needs to be completed before the student can enroll in CH 101.
    • Enroll in a physical section of CH 111 here at NCSU. CH 111 must be passed with a C- or better to enroll subsequently in CH 101.
    • Enroll in a Distance Education section of CH 111 here at NCSU. CH 111 must be passed with a C- or better to enroll subsequently in CH 101.
    • Enroll in a preparatory chemistry class at another university or community college that will transfer as CH 111 credit. See:
    • Satisfactorily complete a series of online modules and evaluative exam hosted by the Chemistry Department. This series of modules constitutes approximately the material covered in a three-week period of class. Please take a reasonable amount of time to process and work through the material so that you have the best chance of being successful on the evaluative examination.

    Chemistry Placement Module Instructions:

    • One may self-register for the Modules here.
    • Login on the left side of frame, under “Returning to this web site?” using your NC State Unity ID and password. Do NOT create a new account. Do NOT login as a guest.
    • The course “Chemistry Placement Modules: Fall 21 – Spring 22” will appear near the top of the link and an option to enroll will be available. Choose YES.
    • Once registered, begin by reading the “Introduction – start here” link at the top. This will explain the eight topical modules; the practice problems for each; and how eventually to access the examination. Note that one must complete each and all of the practice problem sets in order to obtain the password for the examination. The password is case-sensitive.
    • A score of 18 or greater out of 25 is required on the Module Examination to qualify for CH 101.


Q: “I’ve taken and passed the CPE with a score of 15 or greater, but I’m not being allowed to register for the course!”
A: There are other co-requisites for CH 101: you should be enrolling in the 3 co-requisites/components of CH 101 (lecture, recitation and CH 102 lab) all at the same time. Also, please allow until the start of the second business day for your CPE grade to be uploaded to appropriate administrative systems before attempting to register for CH 101. Currently, scores are not uploaded on weekends or holidays.  If you are still unable to enroll, complete the form here.

Q: “What if I’ve taken the AP Chemistry Exam or CHM 151 at a NC Community College?”
A: If one intends to use their AP score or their credit for CHM 151 to “place out” of CH 101, then the CPE is not required. Put simply, taking the CPE is correlated to intended registration in CH 101.

Q: “My internet connection went out during the exam!” (or other electronic vagary)
A: Contact Dr. Robert Warren:

Q: “I was really close to the cutoff! Can I get another chance?” Or, “I’m sure I could do better — I was just a bit rusty.”
A: No. However, if your score was in a range of 12-14, you should seriously consider our online module-based tutorials. Successful completion of these modules will satisfy the prerequisite and should assist you in being ready to begin your university-level chemistry with CH 101.

Q: “I didn’t do very well at all. What should I do next?”
A: Talk with an academic adviser in your (intended) department. Any of the four options outlined in Section IX are available to you, but your department may have specific guidelines.

Q: “What if I’ve never taken chemistry before, but I think my degree program requires CH 101? Can I just take the CPE?”
A: If one has completed less than one year of high-school chemistry and has no preparatory chemistry class from another college that will transfer, one MUST select CH 111. The prerequisites for CH 101 are: (1) a year of HS chemistry + successful CPE or (2) CH 111 or equivalent.

Contact Information

Dr. Robert Warren ( or 919-513-4875) to report technical difficulties regarding the CPE or the Modules.

Dr. Jeremiah Feducia ( or 919-515-2296) for other questions regarding the CPE including interpretation of scores or any of the directives found on this webpage.