NYSTCE Chemistry Study Guide

Overview and Format of the NYSTCE Chemistry Exam

The New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) Chemistry Content Specialty Test (CST) is designed to determine a certification candidate's ability to teach chemistry in the state of New York. The NYSTCE Chemistry exam is a computer-based test (CBT) that includes 90 selected-response items and one constructed-response item. The total appointment time is 3 hours and 30 minutes, with the first 15 minutes used for the CBT tutorial and non-disclosure agreement. This exam requires a score of 520 to pass, on a range of 400 to 600, based on total correct answers in the selected-response portion and on the score for the constructed-response item. All multiple-choice items are scored equally, and incorrect answers have no penalty.

Practice tests give you a better idea of the topics you have mastered and those you should keep studying.

NYSTCE Chemistry Exam Registration

Registration for the NYSTCE Chemistry CST is done online and costs $122. Applicants can pay with either a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card, or with a personal check; if an applicant needs to pay by check, they must contact Evaluation Systems for information. Registrations are valid for one year from the issuing date, and appointments must be scheduled within that time; if registration is allowed to expire, the fee must be paid again to re-register.

Test appointments are available year-round, Monday through Saturday, with some holidays excluded. Test sites are located around New York State and across the nation, and can be found with an online tool. Applicants may change their appointment date, time, or location online, but they must do so at least 24 hours before the scheduled appointment. There is no fee to reschedule. If an examinee needs to retake the test due to failing their previous attempt, they must wait 60 days. Those who have passed are not eligible to retake unless a reissuance of their certificate requires it.

Alternative testing arrangements to accommodate applicants with disabilities and nursing mothers are available. Some of these accommodations, broadly categorized as Comfort Aids, do not require prior approval. Additionally, all centers are wheelchair-accessible and all computer-based tests have features such as larger test and high-contrast colors available to all takers. Candidates can take breaks for restroom trips and medications, but those breaks will not pause the test timer. Other accommodations require the submission of an Alternative Testing Arrangements Request Form, along with documentation supporting a candidate's need for the requested arrangements.

NYSTCE Chemistry Exam Competencies

The NYSTCE Chemistry CST tests candidates' knowledge and application in the following five competencies, which each make up approximately 20% of the total test score:

  • Structure of Matter: This first segment has approximately 22 selected-response items
  • Properties of Matter: There are approximately 22 selected-response items in this section
  • Chemical Reactions: This section has approximately 23 selected-response items
  • Energy: This competency section consists of approximately 23 selected-response items
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Unlike the other competencies, this section consists of one constructed-response item with scenario-based application. It makes up the final 20% of the total test score

Structure of Matter

The first competency is the structure of matter. Applicants will be tested on atomic structure, along with subatomic particles and their use in identification of elements. Modern and historical models of atomic structure, and the historical progress of these models, is also tested. Atomic structure as it relates to the periodic table and the properties of matter is next, followed by the types and properties of chemical bonds, and prediction of the bonds that will arise in chemical reactions. This ties in with the relationship between these bonds and molecular geometry, and predicting the resulting geometry of a chemical reaction. Different models and representations of compounds are next, followed then by the structures and composition of substances, both organic and inorganic, and the rules of nomenclature. The applications and societal and ecological impact of synthetic materials, natural materials, and nuclear processes are then tested. This competency closes with the planning and safe execution of scientific investigations, interpretation of compiled data, and evaluation of specific claims, along with safe use of equipment and materials in a school setting.

Properties of Matter

With the structure covered, the test moves on to the properties of matter. This includes both physical and chemical properties, and connections between the atomic structure and properties of matter. The difference between physical and chemical changes and properties is next, along with their application in the purification and identification of chemical substances. Using the traits of different intermolecular forces to predict the forces present in molecules follows, along with how the physical properties of a substance are related to the types of chemical bonds and intermolecular forces in a material. Kinetic molecular theory is covered here, along with its application in predicting the behavior of particles. Candidates will also be tested on the laws of gases, and the use of math to solve problems and analyze data regarding gases. Properties of solutions and natural and designed materials are next. This competency closes with another safety and analysis segment, this time specifically relating to the properties of matter.

Chemical Reactions

While chemical reactions were addressed to an extent in previous competencies, here they become the central focus. This begins with fundamental principles such as conservation of matter, mass, energy, and charge, and applying these principles to analyzing chemical reactions. Next, the competency assesses understanding of common kinds of chemical reactions, acids and bases, and oxidation-reducing reactions and their applications. The mole concept and stoichiometry will be tested, including calculations. Chemical kinetics will be tested in solving rate problems, laws, and reaction mechanisms. Chemical equilibrium is also covered, along with its application in the analysis of chemical systems. As with the previous segments, safe and proper scientific investigations are covered, this time as they relate to chemical reactions.


The last subject matter competency covered here is energy, its manifestations, and the characteristics of these manifestations. Candidates must apply knowledge of heat to calorimetry investigations and engineering. Next, it returns to chemical reactions with the analysis of energy changes in chemical reactions. Knowledge of free energy and entropy is next, applied to calculations and prediction of the spontaneity of chemical reactions. Building on this, candidates are tested on free energy change, determining equilibrium constants and voltage. Like the three preceding competencies, this one closes with a segment on safety and proper scientific processes, this time as they relate to energy in chemical systems.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge

This competency, which consists of the only structured-response item on the test, is centered on classroom education. Candidates are tested on assessing student readiness for new goals first. Next, they demonstrate their ability to design culturally relevant instruction, incorporating prior understanding and real-world experiences to teach new concepts to a diverse classroom. Third, the concept of three-dimensional instruction, a form of scientific instruction that helps students understand and apply chemistry concepts, is tested. Building on that, candidates apply effective research-backed techniques to guide students in the safe study of chemistry and engineering practices. Finally, a prospective teacher must be able to use effective and appropriate assessments to gauge their students' progress and guide further instruction.

Ways to Prepare for the NYSTCE Chemistry Exam

Preparation for this exam is extremely important, both to save money on retaking it and to save time due to the two-month delay. Using an NYSTCE Chemistry study guide is an excellent start, but study guides are not the only resource available. Flash cards can be used for important topics and terminology, and practice tests can give a test-taker a better understanding of the structure of the real exam. Candidates must be careful to pace their studies properly, and spacing out their studies and repeating some of the content in multiple sessions can help reinforce the knowledge in their mind. Study guides, practice tests, and many other resources can be found online.

NYSTCE Chemistry Study Guide

NYSTCE Chemistry study guides are invaluable in study planning. Their primary purpose is to tell a prospective examinee what subject matter is on the test, which helps guide their studies to important topics so they don't invest time on areas the test doesn't cover. When used alongside practice tests, they are extremely helpful in identifying difficult content so a candidate can focus their studies on topics they have trouble with. They also provide guidance on how much of the test covers each subject, so candidates may split their study efforts appropriately. They may also provide valuable information on registration for the test, and on applicable policies.

How Is the NYSTCE Chemistry Exam Scored?

The NYSTCE Chemistry test requires a score of 520, on a range of 400 to 600, in order to pass. This score is based on the total number of correctly answered selected-response items, and the score for the one constructed-response item. All selected-response questions contribute the same score; there is no weighting for those items. On this test, the one constructed-response item is weighted to be equivalent to one entire competency, making up 20% of the total score. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the selected-response items; as such, every question should be answered.

Scores will be reported to examinees, the New York State Education Department, and any institutions indicated in the application. These will be automatically added to an applicant's certification files based on their social security number. Scores are posted online automatically according to a fixed eight-week schedule, always on a Wednesday. While a candidate will receive their scores, they do not need to submit them with any applications; these are for personal records only.


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Exam Instructions:

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  1. Why are there plateaus on a heating curve?
    • Correct Answer
  2. The second law of thermodynamics states that:

    I. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed

    II. All free energy cannot be converted into usable energy

    III. The entropy of a system increases over time

    • Correct Answer
  3. How many bonding domains are needed for a molecule to have a tetrahedral shape?
    • Correct Answer
  4. What is a macromolecule?
    • Correct Answer
  5. In physics, what is energy?
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  6. What kind of energy are you using when you connect something to a wall power outlet?
    • Correct Answer
  7. How should you dispose of substances in the lab?
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  8. Which of the following is NOT true about science?
    • Correct Answer
  9. At constant pressure, what happens to the volume of a gas at 298 K, when the temperature doubles to 596 K?
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  10. Dana has placed a few drops of food coloring in a mixture of water and vinegar to dye hard-boiled eggs with her daughter in preparation for Easter. The food coloring changing the color of the water is an example of _____.
    • Correct Answer
  11. Which of the following is an example of a chemical change?
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  12. Ocean water is a good example of a mixture because _____
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  13. What is NOT a step in determining the formula of a hydrate?
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  14. What is the empirical formula of a compound containing (by mass) 36.5% sulfur and 63.5% iron?
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  15. Which of the following biological processes is disrupted by fluoride contamination in freshwater organisms?
    • Correct Answer