Preparing for the AP exams isn’t an easy task. College-level tests have always been hard on high schoolers and don’t seem to be getting any easier anytime soon, so if you’re a high school student confused about whether to write the AP exams this year or not, this article should finalize your decision
What are AP exams and Why are They Important?
The AP exams or Advanced Placement exams conducted by the College Board are examinations made with the sole purpose of testing a student’s understanding of concepts taught to them in the AP courses.
Conducted yearly by the College Board with the counseling of College professors, these tests are designed for high school students to attempt college-level questions.
These can give you several far-reaching benefits such as an increased chance of getting accepted into the colleges of your choice and even help you get scholarships.
What is the Format of AP Exams?
These tests are conducted once every year and are always divided into two sections. Generally, the first section consists of multiple-choice questions while the second consists of a free-response. However, it is not uncommon to find submissions in the form of portfolios or even a spoken answers.
The test lasts about three hours and the exact question pattern varies between subjects.
AP Physics – Everything you Need to Know
The AP physics course is divided into three board parts:
AP Physics 1; AP Physics 2; AP Physics C: Mechanics; AP Physics C: Electricity and magnetism
All of these courses come under the subjects of AP physics. Let’s understand what each course offers?
- AP Physics 1:
AP Physics 1 is an introductory, algebra-based course that deals with the fundamentals of physics including:
- Newtonian Mechanics
This course was designed to be a first-year physics course that you can take with no prior physics knowledge. It is a highly recommended course for beginners who want to study physics but don’t know where to start. Recommended prerequisites for this course include credits in geometry and Algebra II.
- AP Physics 2:
AP Physics 2 is also an algebra-based course, however, it deals with a few advanced topics in addition to the concepts covered in Physics 1. Some of the topics covered include:
- Fluid Statics and Dynamics: Dealing with liquids
- Thermodynamics with Kinetic Theory: Atomic and molecular collisions
- PV diagrams and probability: Interactions between molecules
- Electrostatics: Dealing with static charges
- Electrical circuits with Capacitors: Dealing with moving charges
- Magnetic fields: Dealing with magnetic fields
- Electromagnetism: How electricity can affect magnetism
- Optics: Dealing with light and its properties
- Quantum physics: Dealing with quantum effects of particles
- Nuclear physics: The relation between matter and energy
- Atomic Physics: Deals with the working of an atom
Physics 2 was designed to be a second-year physics course and hence, it is not recommended for first-year high school students. This course has been designed to teach advanced topics therefore, it requires you to have completed Physics 1 or some other first-year physics course.
- AP Physics C:
AP Physics C course is calculus-based and thus requires you to have taken the AP Calculus course. This tends to be much more challenging than the other two courses due to the requirement for calculus. The topics covered are:
- Kinematics: Study of motion
- Newton’s laws of motion: Application of Newton’s Laws
- Work Energy and Power: Deals with the conservation of energy and laws surrounding it.
- System of Particles and linear momentum: Deals with particle interactions
- Rotation: The behavior of particles when rotating
- Oscillations: The phenomenon that causes objects to repeat their paths
- Gravitation: The study of how objects act under gravity.
Electronics and Magnetism:
- Electrostatics: The study of static charges
- Conductors, capacitors, and dielectrics: Factors affecting how charges move through objects
- Electric circuits: Construction of circuits using the previous knowledge
- Magnetic Fields: A study of the behavior of magnetic fields
- Electromagnetism: How electricity and magnetism interact and its practical applications
The two topics covered, mechanics and electronics and magnetism, are individually said to be equivalent to a semester each of college calculus-based physics.
Although there are no prerequisites as such, taking one or both of the physics courses is recommended.
So how many courses should you take and how will they benefit you?
After learning about AP Physics, you might have figured out that you can approach AP Physics in different ways, depending on your academic preferences.
- Curiosity: If you are simply curious about the subject and want to see yourself attempting a physics class, you should consider Physics 1. Later, if you feel like this subject may be your calling, you can always go for Physics 2.
- College: In most Colleges, the stream you want will require differing amounts of credits. However, if you perform well in these courses, you are guaranteed to get free college as well as school credits. Most schools and colleges take a score of 4 or 5 as a successful pass mark and award you credit for the same.
- Career: If you see yourself making a career in physics anytime soon, be it as a scientist, an engineer, or an astronaut, make sure that you take two or more of these courses. Although it may seem tough to take so many at once, the benefits this can add to your career are many and should never be ignored. Although not recommended by most, taking all three courses is an option, but unless you are sure that you can handle the pressure you have to carry, it might be better to stay away from such an option.
Although quite hard, the determined always succeed.