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 had begun 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]

The exam score distributions since 2015 are as follows:

Score 2015[6] 2016[7] 2017[8] 2018[9]
5 5.0% 4.6% 5.0% 5.2%
4 13.6% 14.0% 15.8% 15%
3 20.7% 21.2% 20.3% 19.5%
2 29.8% 30.2% 29.5% 29.1%
1 31.0% 30.0% 29.4% 31.2%
Mean 2.32 2.33 2.38 2.34
Number of Students 171,074 169,304 170,447

This AP course has the lowest average score and the lowest proportion of students that score a 5 out of all current AP subjects.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs Physics: AP Physics 1 and 2 Redesign (as it stands now) and Honors Physics I
  2. ^ AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 | Advances in AP
  3. ^ Jacobs, Greg. "What does a 5 on the AP Physics 1 Exam mean? It still means an A, but read on..." Jacobs Physics. Greg Jacobs. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  4. ^ AP Physics 1: Algebra-based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-based Curriculum Framework 2014–2015 Archived September 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-physics-1-course-and-exam-description.pdf
  6. ^ Total Registration. "2015 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
  7. ^ Total Registration. "2016 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
  8. ^ Total Registration. "2017 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  9. ^ Total Registration. "2018 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.TotalRegistration.net. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  10. ^ "STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS, AP Exams - May 2017" (PDF).