||It has been suggested that AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2014.|
Advanced Placement (AP) Physics collectively refers to four College Board Advanced Placement Program courses and exams covering various areas of physics. Each course culminates in an exam for which high-performing students may receive some credit towards their college coursework, depending on which college or university they attend.
AP Physics B (discontinued)
AP Physics B - discontinued in 2014 - was divided into five different sections: Newtonian Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics, Electricity and Magnetism, Waves and Optics, and Atomic and Nuclear Physics. The course was the equivalent to a one-year college course that includes a laboratory component, suitable for pre-med and other non-science or engineering majors. The course was non-calculus-based, utilizing algebra and basic trigonometry to solve various physics problems. It was supposed to be equivalent to an introductory algebra-based college course in physics.
AP Physics 1 and 2
Taking the place of Physics B are two new courses, AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, starting in the fall of 2014. The new courses are designed to emphasize critical thinking and reasoning as well as learning through inquiry. They remain as algebra-based courses that do not require students to have taken calculus.
AP Physics 1 covers the same Newtonian mechanics as AP Physics B plus rotational mechanics, as well as an introduction to electricity (Coulomb's Law and simple DC circuits), and mechanical waves and sound.
AP Physics 2 covers everything else that used to be AP Physics B - thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism and modern physics.
AP Physics C
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AP Physics C: Mechanics studies Newtonian mechanics. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems which is why most schools recommend that the student have completed or be concurrently enrolled in a calculus class. It is supposed to be equivalent to an introductory college course in mechanics for physics or engineering majors. This course, taken along with courses covering other areas, such as Electricity and Magnetism, Waves, Thermodynamics, and Modern Physics can help prepare students for the SAT Subject Test in Physics, also administered by College Board.
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism studies electricity and magnetism. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. It is supposed to be equivalent to an introductory college course in electricity and magnetism for physics majors. This course, taken along with courses covering other areas, such as Mechanics, Waves, Thermodynamics, and Modern Physics can help prepare students for the SAT Subject Test in Physics, also administered by College Board.
The two AP Physics C courses are often combined to make a unified Physics C course that prepares for both exams, though each may be a separate course. In the former scenario, Electricity and Magnetism is typically taught second, as it requires much of the knowledge gained in the Mechanics course. When only one Physics C course is offered, it is typically Mechanics, and this, in combination with the fact that many schools do not complete their unified Physics C courses before the exam date, is a probable explanation why more students take the Mechanics exam than the Electricity and Magnetism exam.
In schools that use block scheduling, since a year's worth of work fits within a semester, it is possible to both complete both courses within a full year's time and not lose in-class time in the process. However, since the AP Exams are scheduled in May, and since the school year usually ends a month later in June, this presents the same problem as the regular unified course taught in a non-block-scheduled school, described above. Teachers usually mitigate this by beginning to cover the Electricity and Magnetism material a couple weeks before the actual start of the second semester.
- Physics Course Description (PDF), The College Board, May 2009
- "AP Physics B". AP Central. College Board. 2011. Archived from the original on 2 July 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "AP Physics 1 and 2, 2014–15". AP: Advances in AP. The College Board.
- "AP Physics 1 Course Home Page". AP Central. The College Board.
- AP® PHYSICS 1: ALGEBRA-BASED AND AP® PHYSICS 2: ALGEBRA-BASED – Course and Exam Description – Effective Fall 2014 (PDF), New York, NY: The College Board, 2014