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Periodic Table for AP Chemistry

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 8, 2011

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:

If chemistry students had to learn the individual properties of the 100+ elements that are now known, it would be a monumental and frustrating task. Early scientists had to do just that. Then several scientists began to notice trends in the properties of the elements and began grouping them in various ways. In 1871, a Russian chemist, Dmitri Mendeleev, introduced the first modern periodic table. He arranged the elements in terms of increasing atomic mass. He then arranged columns so that elements that had similar properties were in the same column. Mendeleev was able to predict the existence and properties of elements that were then unknown. Later, when they were discovered, Mendeleev's predictions were remarkably accurate. Later the periodic table was rearranged to sequence the elements by increasing atomic number, not mass. The result is the modern periodic table shown in Figure 5.4.

This is not the periodic table supplied on the AP exam. The one in this book has family and period labels. Become familiar with these labels so that you can effectively use the unlabeled one. You may wish to add labels to the one supplied with the AP exam.

Each square on this table represents a different element and contains three bits of information. The first is the element symbol. You should become familiar with the symbols of the commonly used elements. Secondly, the square lists the atomic number of the element, usually centered above the element. This integer represents the number of protons in the element's nucleus. The atomic number will always be a whole number. Thirdly, the square lists the element's mass, normally centered underneath the element symbol. This number is not a whole number because it is the weighted average (taking into consideration abundance) of all the masses of the naturally occurring isotopes of that element. The mass number can never be less than the atomic number.

Arrangement of Elements

There are a number of different groupings of elements on the periodic table that may be utilized. One system involves putting the elements into three main groups—metals, nonmetals, and metalloids (semimetals). Look at Figure 5.4. Notice the heavy, stair-stepped line starting at boron (B) and going downward and to the right. The elements to the left of that line (except for H, Ge, and Sb) are classified as metals. Metals are normally solids (mercury being an exception), shiny, and good conductors of heat and electricity. They can be hammered into thin sheets (malleable) and extruded into wires (ductile). Chemically, metals tend to lose electrons in reactions, to form cations.

Arrangement of Elements

Elements bordering the stair-stepped line (B, Si, Ge, As, Sb, Te) are classified as metalloids. Metalloids have properties of both metals and nonmetals. Their unusual electrical properties make them valuable in the semiconductor and computer industry.

The rest of the elements, to the right of the metalloids, are called nonmetals. Nonmetals have properties that are often the opposite of metals. Some are gases, are poor conductors of heat and electricity, are neither malleable nor ductile, and tend to gain electrons in their chemical reactions to form anions.

Another way to group the elements on the periodic table is in terms of periods and groups (families). Periods are the horizontal rows, which have consecutive atomic numbers. The periods are numbered from 1 to 7. Elements in the same period do not have similar properties in terms of reactions.

The vertical rows on the periodic table are called groups or families. They may be labeled in one of two ways. An older and still widely used system is to label each group with a Roman numeral and a letter, A or B. The groups that are labeled with an A are called the main-group elements, while the B groups are called the transition elements. Two other horizontal groups, the inner transition elements, have been pulled out of the main body of the periodic table. The Roman numeral at the top of the main-group families indicates the number of valence (outermost shell) electrons in that element. Valence electrons are normally considered to be only the s and p electrons in the outermost energy level. The transition elements (B groups) are filling d-orbitals, while the inner transition elements are filling f-orbitals.

Four main-group families are given special names, which you should remember:

  • IA group (Group 1)            alkali metals
  • IIA group (Group 2)           alkaline earth metals
  • VIIA group (Group 17)       halogens
  • VIIIA group (Group 18)      noble gases

Another way to label the groups is to consecutively number the groups from left to right, 1–18. This method is newer than the other labeling method, and it has not gained wide use. Most teachers and chemists still prefer and use the older method.

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