AP Physics 1

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Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 1, along with AP Physics 2, is a year-long AP course whose first exam was given in 2015. The course is intended to proxy a one-semester algebra-based university course. Topics covered include forces and motion, conservation laws, waves, and electricity. [1]


The heavily computational AP Physics B course served for four decades as the College Board's algebra-based offering. As part of the College Board's redesign of science courses, AP Physics B was discontinued and AP Physics 1 and 2 were created with guidance from the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation.[2] The course covers material of a first-semester university undergraduate physics course offered at American universities that use best practices of physics pedagogy.[3] The first AP Physics 1 classes began in the 2014-2015 school year, with the first AP exams administered in May 2015.


AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that includes topics such as Newtonian mechanics; work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. The College Board published a curriculum framework that includes seven big ideas on which the new AP Physics courses are based, along with "enduring understandings" students will be expected to acquire within each of the big ideas.:[4]

Questions for the exam are constructed with direct reference to items in the curriculum framework. Student understanding of each topic is tested with reference to multiple skills -- that is, questions require students to use quantitative, semi-quantitative, qualitative, and experimental reasoning in each content area.

Dynamics: Newton's laws
Circular motion and gravitation
Simple harmonic motion
Torque and rotational motion
Electric charge and electric force
DC circuits
Mechanical waves and sound

Score distributions[edit]

AP exams are scored 1–5. The exam score distributions were as follows:

Score 2015[6] 2016[7] 2017[8]
5 5.0% 4.6% 5.0%
4 13.6% 14.0% 15.8%
3 20.7% 21.2% 20.3%
2 29.8% 30.2% 29.5%
1 31.0% 30.0% 29.4%
Mean 2.32 2.33
Number of Students 171,000 169,000

See also[edit]