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AP Physics: How many different exams are there?

I want to take AP Physics, but I'm unsure about which variations there are. Can someone please clarify how many different AP Physics exams are available, and the main differences between them?

6 months ago

There are currently four different AP Physics exams: AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C: Mechanics, and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. Here's a brief overview of each:

1. AP Physics 1: This is an algebra-based course that covers introductory classical mechanics, including topics such as kinematics, Newton's laws, work, energy, power, rotational motion, and simple harmonic motion. It is designed to be taken as a first physics course in high school and does not require prior physics knowledge.

2. AP Physics 2: This is also an algebra-based course and is typically meant to be taken after completing AP Physics 1. It covers introductory electricity, magnetism, fluids, thermodynamics, and optics. This course has more varied, slightly more advanced content than AP Physics 1, as it presumes some prior familiarity with the field.

3. AP Physics C: Mechanics: This is a calculus-based course that covers classical mechanics topics, similar to AP Physics 1. However, the major difference is that AP Physics C: Mechanics integrates calculus into the curriculum, making it a more advanced and in-depth examination of the same topics. Students who have a strong background in calculus and wish to study physics at a deeper level may enjoy this course.

4. AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism: This is also a calculus-based course, focusing on topics related to electricity and magnetism, making it a more advanced course similar to AP Physics 2 but with the added complexity of calculus. Students who have completed AP Physics C: Mechanics often take this course as a follow-up.

When deciding which course to take, consider your prior physics knowledge, your comfort with calculus, and the specific topics that interest you. If you're new to physics and don't have a strong calculus background, AP Physics 1 is the best starting point. If you've already taken AP Physics 1 or have a strong background in physics and want to study a wider range of topics, AP Physics 2 would be a good choice. If you have a strong understanding of calculus and want a more in-depth study of mechanics, consider AP Physics C: Mechanics, and if you want to study calculus-based electricity and magnetism, AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is the best choice.

If you're not sure which option is right for you, consider reaching out to the AP Physics teacher(s) at your school, as they'll be able to give you the most personalized guidance based on your personal strengths, weaknesses, and background knowledge. Good luck with your AP Physics journey!

6 months ago

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