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All you need to know about Advanced Placement Physics 

What is the Advanced Placement Program? 

So in 1952, few prep schools and some Ivy League Universities like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton conducted a study under the ‘Kenyon Plan’ and issued the report General Education in School and Colleges: A Committee report which recommended allowing high school seniors to study college-level material and to take achievement exams that allowed them to attain college credit for this work even before graduating high school.

A second committee was later set up to decide upon the curriculum, subsequently running a pilot program in 1952 which was later implemented nationally in 1955-56 school year in ten subjects.

The College Board has been running the curriculum from then onwards by maintaining and developing guidelines for teaching these higher-level courses in various subjects funded by the ford foundation and from the fees required to take the AP exams. 

Now the College Board in fact allows any student to take the examination regardless of participation in the respective course allowing homeschooled and students from schools that do not provide AP courses an equal opportunity to take the Advanced Placement Exams. 

So What about AP Physics? 

AP Physics is one of 47 subjects under the AP program. The course content mainly focuses on understanding core principles, theory, the process of physics and even has a laboratory component. 

Now you may think you would be able to do the course if you don’t have a background understanding of physics but we or at least the College Board has got your back, but how? 

So the college board provides 4 AP Physics courses to choose from but before you jump on to choose one of them let’s see what they are and which one you should go for. 

AP Physics 1 and 2 

Both these courses were introduced back in 2015 replacing AP Physics B. These are algebra-based courses that do not require the students to have taken a calculus course beforehand designed to emphasize critical thinking.

AP Physics 1 is a first-year physics course with no need for prior physics knowledge but the AP program does recommend the student to have been enrolled in geometry or Algebra II while taking the course otherwise to take another science course until you’re caught up with the math. 

AP Physics 2 is also an algebra-based physics course but designed to be a second-year course that deals with fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and quantum physics, etc. The subject deals with more advanced physics skills and knowledge. 

AP Physics C 

An Important feature that makes this more challenging than the previous two courses is that it’s calculus-based which means you should either have previously taken calculus or should be pursuing it concurrently.

Now AP Physics C is broken down into two papers: AP Physics C – Mechanics and AP Physics C – Electricity and magnetism with schools teaching both as the same class or just teaching one topic.

Even though the content in both AP Physics 1 & 2 and AP Physics C are the same, but AP Physics C is in way more depth with the inclusion of calculus.

Even though each topic is equivalent to one semester of college calculus-based physics but, as AP Physics C is a second-year course and it is recommended to be taken after an introductory AP Physics 1 or 2 (or both) course.

Also Read: Is IB Tutoring Online Effective?

Now Which one should you take? 

  • You should take a regular/Honours Physics class if your school doesn’t offer an AP Physics 1 where you will learn the basic concepts, then you can take AP Physics 2 as your second Physics class. 
  • You can start with AP Physics 1 then move on to AP Physics 2 if you’re looking to fulfill a science requirement for colleges where you will not be studying science as your major. These 2 courses actually provide a solid physics background for future pre-med, geology, or life science students as well but never jump straight into AP Physics 2(a second-year course) and if your school doesn’t offer AP Physics 2 then you could choose some other natural science courses. 
  • If you’re aiming for engineering or a physical science major in college then AP Physics C is recommended but doing all these courses might be just too much for you so instead you can start with a regular physics class/AP Physics 1 then go for AP Physics C along with other science courses so as to get a well-rounded exposure to all the 3 sciences. It’s also important to have taken at least 1 calculus course alongside or before. 

So what next! 

Now as you have an idea about what all you can do let’s talk about how to proceed,

So it’s important to schedule your classes according to what you plan to do in the future and to do that it’s important to understand what all courses your school offers so first meet your guidance counsellor and get to know about the course they teach and also about the recommended physics course sequence at your school.

It’s also important to understand about your AP Physics tutor so talk to the counsellor and students currently studying any AP Physics course to know about the levels of the AP Physics tutor and the quality of AP Physics notes they provide and also about the pass rates for AP Physics at your school, you might also want to schedule for your vacations accordingly as AP Physics does provide you with a considerable amount of Assignments for summer homework. 

Hope this article helps you to choose and schedule your AP Physics courses. 

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