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FAQs: Undergraduate Chemistry Program


I want to switch my lecture (or lab) to another day or time slot.

We urge students to be very careful doing this. Because they are co-requisites, the system will not allow you to drop just a lab or lecture -- it will drop them both. If another student is on the Waitlist, your seat might be re-assigned. You risk losing both of your seats. However, you can switch your lecture or lab section by following these steps CAREFULLY:

1) Select Webdrop next to the course you wish to switch.

2) Enter the CRN number of the new course into the manual add space at the bottom of your registration screen.

3) Hit Submit.

If a seat is available in your new course, your old and new course should switch without a problem. If you get any error message, do not proceed. Make sure you have looked over all of the steps. If a problem persists, contact the Chemistry Instructional Program Assistant.

Why does the lecture/lab not add to my schedule when I register? Both are open.

Both the lecture and lab must be added to the pending schedule before either will be added to the registration schedule. You will need to either select both in the Athena Registration screens or enter both lecture and lab Course Registration Numbers (CRNs) into your Add/Drop screen in Athena.

I am trying to add a Chemistry lecture and lab and Athena is giving me an error. What do I do?

Be sure the courses you are attempting to add are open, that you do not have a time conflict, and that you have met all of the pre-requisites. If a problem persists, you can contact Chemistry Instructional Program Assistant and she can assist.

Is there a waiting list for my chemistry course?

There are waitlists for the labs, but due to restrictions in Athena, there are no waitlists for lectures. Please sign up for the waitlist by manually adding the CRN number for both lecture and lab to your registration screen. After you hit submit, a drop down menu next to the lab should appear and you can add yourself to “Waitlist Registered."

IMPORTANT: The Registrar removes all waitlists 3 days before the start of classes.

I have a passing grade in a course but would like to retake it to get credit in my major or to get a higher grade. How do I do that?

Contact the Undergraduate Chemistry Coordinator at indicating that you would like to repeat a course. Please provide your name, the number and name of the course (Chem XXXX) to repeat, your 810 number, and your UGA email address. If you received a grade of F, then it is not necessary to receive an override -- you may simply register for the course.

How do I get permission to take an honors course?

Contact the Honors department located in Moore College. The phone number is (706) 542-3240 and the email is

How do I audit a course?

Speak with the instructor to receive permission to register through Athena for the course. There is a separate menu in Athena for registering as an audit.

Do I have to retake the lab if I have already passed the lab?

No, if you are satisfied with your grade in the lab, then it is not necessary to retake the lab. However, you must obtain an Override to register for a lecture without the co-requisite lab. Contact the Undergraduate Chemistry Administrator at .

Can the Chemistry department just add me into the lecture class that I would like since I have a lab seat?

No. Students must register for available lecture seats using Athena. There are no exceptions.

Can I take the lecture without the lab if I have AP credit?

If a student has earned AP credit for a course but would like to take the lecture only, the student must request an override to take either the lecture or the lab. Taking the course deletes the AP credit, however. It is also important to realize that not all graduate, dental, veterinarian, medical and other professional schools accept AP credits. This applies to both lecture and lab credits. Whether or not to retake a course that a student has previously earned credit for is a consideration that should be made carefully based on future plans, financial aid and other factors. Please contact the Undergraduate Chemistry Coordinator to request an override to delete the AP credit and take the chemistry course at It is important to indicate the student’s name, 810 number, and the name of the course (e.g. Chem 1211) as well.

Can I take the lecture without the lab if one is not available or if the time does not work with my schedule?

No, the lecture and lab are corequisites; they must be taken at the same time. There are no exceptions to this rule due to safety regulations.

Transfer Students

My chemistry course (from another institution) is not posted to my transcript. How do I register for a class?

If the course is a 1000 or 2000 level course, please email the Undergraduate Chemistry Coordinator at For all other 3000 level and higher courses, please contact Kelli Porterfield at 

Can I register for a UGA course now if I am taking the prerequisite course at my current school?

No. We do not have the ability to monitor pass/fail for students taking courses at other institutions. Transfer students must complete the course and provide proof of a passing grade prior to getting a pre-requisite override for the next course in the sequence.

What is your Undergraduate Transfer Policy?

You can find more about our Undergraduate Transfer Policy here.


Whom do I contact about Research hours?

You need to submit the online Undergraduate Research Request, which can be found here.

Please contact Dr. Tina Salguero (in Chemistry 573 or with questions, including requests for Chemistry research credit with professors outside of the Chemistry department.


Facts and Figures

What are typical grades in the Freshman Chemistry sequence (CHEM 1211, CHEM 1212)?

The UGA general chemistry program uses a “contract” system for assigning grades. Details about what total “points” or percentage of them is required to earn a specific grade appear in each course’s syllabus. There is no limit to the number of each grade; this depends on how each student performs. Other institutions use a “curve”, a system based on the arithmetic mean and standard deviations in which the number of people who earn each grade is determined by statistics.

course grades

Why aren’t these courses graded on a curve?

Some people believe that a “curve” means better grades for all or a more generous grading system. In fact, the opposite is true. Statistics define the arithmetic mean (i.e., average grade) and the standard deviation defines the distribution of scores relative to the mean. Slightly more than two-thirds of all grades (68.2%) are within one standard deviation of the mean, 34.1% above it and 34.1% below it. About 95% of all grades are within two standard deviations (43.7% each above and below). This is called the normal distribution or bell-shaped curve. Independent of the average on an exam, the average (mean) and standard deviation can be used to find your ranking.

The disadvantage of the “curve” is that when students withdraw, the average scores change with the population. When students with the lower scores withdraw and are no longer counted, the “average” of the remaining students keeps increasing. With a grading “contract”, UGA students always have a sense of where they stand in an absolute sense. There is also more incentive to students because there is no limit to the number of each grade.

Success in General Chemistry courses

How DOES a student earn a top grade?

Several strategies can lead to success. The first is that general chemistry courses require a considerable amount of effort evenly spread across the entire semester. Work on assignments over several days and not just before the deadline. Most college instructors (especially those in challenging courses) recommend 2 to 3 hours per hour of class time per week. A second strategy is to understand the ideas that the homework or quizzes are based on. Organize all of the questions from the clicker questions in class, the homework, and the solved problems in the lecture videos and text. They are all related to the 5 to 8 big ideas in each chapter. Recognize the idea, what the questions ask, and how they are all related. Memorizing the approach to a question is rarely useful; doing a prescribed set of steps (i.e., algorithm) every time you see certain words or a concept does not help when the next question is even slightly different. Practice the skills of recognizing the ideas with a new set of problems; the end of chapter problems are ideal for this activity. Remember that this process takes time but develops your problem-solving skills that will be useful beyond these courses.

If I understand the solved problems in class and in the video, why aren’t my exam scores better?

Watching an instructor solve a problem in class or video certainly means that you understand the basic ideas. That’s great, but it represents the lowest level of understanding according to cognitive models. These courses require problem solving and applying knowledge at much higher levels of learning. As a student, YOU have to be able to solve the problems. The electronic homework questions give the students several attempts, often with intervening hints or tutorials. Simply remembering the question and answer is typically not very useful because almost any variation can’t be solved by this strategy. Why am I doing these steps? What simple changes will I recognize and what adjustments need to be made in my process? The general chemistry program uses a form of homework or self-assessment called “progress checks”. These give students alternative questions but only one attempt to test their skills. In addition, the textbook has substantial numbers of end-of-chapter problems with which to practice. Recognizing the material in a variety of forms and devising a plan of action are the skills to achieve.

I made a “D” in my Chemistry lecture course. Can I still move on and take the next course in the sequence?

Yes. Technically a “D” is a passing grade, so you can take other courses. However, a “D” may not satisfy your major requirements so you should check with your advisor about the best course of action.

What should I take as a review before taking CHEM 1211? It has been awhile since I took chemistry and I don’t remember anything.

Taking CHEM 1110 is possible but not helpful. The course coverage is different so it does not work as a preface for CHEM 1211. Additionally, taking both courses decreases financial aid hours without completing additional core requirements. If you feel like you need a preparatory course prior to taking CHEM 1211 and CHEM 1211L, the Chemistry Department now offers CHEM 1210. 

Find out more about CHEM 1210 here.

Where can I get help?

Every instructor has office hours, and some offer additional help sessions. Graduate teaching assistants can provide help with content from lecture and lab courses. The course syllabus or the news and announcements on the eLC site will tell you where and when you can access your instructor and the TAs. The Office of Academic Enhancement offers free tutoring in their facility in Memorial Hall and at the Miller Learning Center. Paid tutors are available on and off campus. Finding someone who just gives out sets of questions and answers is not likely to be of much help. (The textbook has hundreds of free questions.) Many students find these courses challenging; therefore, it should be obvious that there is no trivial answer. On the other hand, figuring it out is both satisfying and productive.

Why do many students feel that these courses are especially difficult?

Many students have career aspirations that require a serious academic program. No one says that you also can’t have a good time while being academically successful. Every student accepted into UGA has the requisite skills to succeed in these introductory courses. In the same way, each student is also expected to develop study habits and a work ethic that will be successful at the collegiate level.

Urban Legends

Is the Chemistry Department on probation or review for giving too many low grades?

Absolutely not! Chemistry course instructors are committed to the success of our students and do NOT assign large numbers of failing grades. The Department carefully monitors grades every semester. In addition, the Department uses standardized exams from the American Chemical Society that are used at hundreds of universities. On average, our students perform at or above the national average on these exams. A few students make these kinds of statements in social media and they become "urban legend." In fact, they are just fishing for an explanation of why they did not achieve a top-level grade.

Why do these courses have the reputation of being “weedout” courses?

The Chemistry department does not conduct "weedout" courses. Our faculty is devoted to the success of our students. Chemistry is a challenging subject, but no more so than other physical sciences. There is no agenda to indiscriminately eliminate or fail students. We are an educational institution, and doing so would make no sense at all. The “weedout” description is simply an urban legend, often posted by disgruntled students.

How does the introductory chemistry program calibrate or “review” itself?

The people who teach in our program are professionals. They have been trained on the best practices both in teaching and student learning. Some of them conduct research on student learning and student problem solving.  In addition, the department employs assessment tools and standardized examinations that used by hundreds of colleges and thousands of students per year. UGA students perform as well or better when compared to national norms.

Questions for Parents

Does getting a grade below a B disqualify a student from a HOPE (or other) scholarship?

No. Financial aid and scholarships have Federal and State requirements. The grade in any one course, including a chemistry course, will neither qualify nor disqualify the student. Scholarship administrators check for “satisfactory academic progress” which is an overall record of activity and performance.

Language from the website of the Office of Financial Aid states that… "…HOPE Scholarship students will be checked to see if they are maintaining a minimum 3.0 HOPE GPA at the end of the semesters in which they have attempted their 30th, 60th, 90th hours and at the end of every spring semester."

Chemistry instructors assign grades objectively, following a grading scheme that is available in the syllabus each semester. The average grades in our courses are just at or above a B- (i.e., 2.7/4.0). We do not employ "grade inflation," so students from secondary schools where everyone receives an A or B may be shocked to find a different system in place.

Parents and guardians need to be aware of these policies .

How should a parent assist a student who is having trouble succeeding in chemistry?

Above all, parents should be positive and encouraging in their discussions. Entering freshmen are sometimes surprised to realize that, unlike some high schools, UGA does not support “grade inflation” where every student gets an A or a B. However, the Department of Chemistry, like every other department at UGA, is singularly focused on helping students succeed. In addition to carefully-planned lectures and laboratory exercises, we offer countless office hours, study groups, and tutoring plans to assist our students. The three most important pieces of advice for students are these:

1. Focus on understanding concepts and practice by solving problems. Memorization simply does not work in college-level physical sciences.

2. Build study habits that include an hour or so of chemistry study every day. Last-minute cramming for examinations does not work.

3. Seek out the advice of your instructor as soon as you feel you are being challenged by a particular concept or topic. Our instructors provide office hours every week for this exact purpose – take advantage of their willingness to help you.

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Got More Questions?

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Contact Us!

Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Main Email:

Head of Chemistry: Prof. Jason Locklin