The Student Success Guide to AP Physics C

13/05/202412 minute read
 The Student Success Guide to AP Physics C

If you're looking to study Advanced Placement Physics C, you've come to the right place. In this guide we'll break down everything you need to know about both segments of the course, Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism.

From what topics are covered, to the skills you'll develop, and how to best prepare for exams, this guide will help you on your way to success in AP Physics C.

AP Physics C Subject Explained

In AP Physics C students engage in hands-on lab work and classroom activities to explore physical phenomena. The course encourages critical thinking through hypothesis formulation, experiment design, and data analysis using calculus-based solutions.

The course is split into two sections:

AP Physics C Mechanics: Covers kinematics, Newton's laws, work, energy, power, systems of particles, linear momentum, rotation, oscillations, and gravitation.

AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism: Focuses on topics like electric fields, magnetic fields, circuits, and electromagnetic waves.

Students have the option to take one or both exams. Successful scores may lead to college credit, offering a head start in university science programs.

Skills you’ll develop in AP Physics C

  • Understand and describe visuals of physical scenarios.
  • Create hypotheses and design experiments to test them.
  • Form graphs and diagrams to showcase data and physical concepts.
  • Analyse and interpret data presented in graphs.
  • Use mathematics to solve physics problems.
  • Build and defend your scientific ideas with evidence.
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AP Physics C: Mechanics Course Overview

Mechanics is a college-level course that dives into the basics of movement and forces. It uses calculus to help you understand topics like motion, energy, and the laws of motion. This course is great for anyone interested in studying engineering or physics in the future.

UnitTopics CoveredScored on the Exam
Unit 1: Kinematics- Kinematics in one dimension and in two dimensions14% - 20% of exam score
Unit 2: Newton's Laws of Motion- Newton’s first, second, and third laws or motion - Circular motion17% - 23% of exam score
Unit 3: Work, Energy, and Power- Work–energy theorem - Forces and potential energy - Conservation of energy - Power14% - 17% of exam score
Unit 4: Systems of Particles and Linear Momentum- Center of mass - Impulse and momentum - Conservation of linear momentum, collisions14% - 17% of exam score
Unit 5: Rotation- Torque and rotational statics - Rotational kinematics - Rotational dynamics and energy - Angular momentum and its conservation14% - 20% of exam score
Unit 6: Oscillations- Simple harmonic motion, springs, and pendulums6% - 14% of exam score
Unit 7: Gravitation- Gravitational forces - Orbits of planets and satellites6% - 14% of exam score

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Course Overview

Electricity and Magnetism covers everything from electric forces to magnetic fields, using calculus to tackle complex problems. It’s ideal for students aiming for a career in physical sciences or engineering, offering a deep understanding of how electricity and magnetism work together.

UnitTopics CoveredScored on the Exam
Unit 1: Electrostatics- Coulomb’s Law - Electric field and electric potential - Electric potential due to point charges and uniform fields - Gauss’s Law - Fields and potentials of other charge distributions26% - 34% of exam score
Unit 2: Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics- Electrostatics with conductors - Capacitors - Dielectrics14% - 17% of exam score
Unit 3: Electric Circuits- Current, resistance, and power - Steady-state direct-current circuits with batteries and resistors only - Gauss’s Law17% - 23% of exam score
Unit 4: Magnetic Fields- Forces on current carrying wires in magnetic fields - Fields of long current carrying wires - The Biot-Savart Law and Ampère’s Law17% - 23% of exam score
Unit 5: Electromagnetism- Electromagnetic induction (including Faraday’s Law and Lenz’s Law) - Inductance (including LR circuits) - Maxwell’s equations14% - 20% of exam score

Prepare for the AP Physics C Exam 

When is the AP Physics C Exam?

The AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam: Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 12 p.m. local time. 

The AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exam: Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 2 p.m. local time. 

Each exam lasts 90 minutes total and consists of two sections. For more information on exam dates for each subject, students can refer to the full schedule on the CollegeBoard website here.

This resource provides all the necessary details about the 2024 AP Exam Dates and is an essential tool for effective planning and preparation.

Top Study Tips for the AP Physics Exam

The AP Physics C Exam requires understanding of complex concepts and the ability to apply these concepts in various scenarios. By starting early and approaching your study systematically, you’ll be able to build a strong foundation and refine your problem-solving skills, setting you up for success on the exam.

Consider these steps tips when preparing for your study:

  • Start by downloading the official course and exam descriptions from the College Board. These documents are your ticket to success, outline key topics, and give overview on the structure of the exam.
  • Regularly practice answering past exam questions available on the College Board website. This will help you become familiar with the exam’s format and typical question styles.
  • Connect with your AP Physics teacher for additional support. Feel free to ask for extra practice exam questions or clarification on any topics you find challenging. Your teachers are there to assist you in your understanding and help with exam strategies.
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How is the AP Physics C Exam Scored?

  • Multiple Choice: 50% of your total score.
  • Free Response: 50% to your total score.

The AP Physics C Exams are each graded on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 representing the highest possible score a student can get. After your raw scores from the multiple choice and free response are calculated, they are adjusted to the 1 to 5 scale, taking into account varying difficulties of each year's exam for a fair comparison.

AP Physics C Results 2023

On the AP Physics C Mechanics exam the average score was 3.4, with 73.5% of students achieving a score of 3 or higher:

26.4% scored a 5

26.3% scored a 4

20.7% scored a 3

14% scored a 2

12.5% scored a 1

On the AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism exam the average score was 3.49, with 70.2% of students achieving a score of 3 or higher:

33.6% scored a 5

23.5% scored a 4

13.1% scored a 3

17.9% scored a 2

Why do AP Exams Matter More Than Ever?

Hear from CGA's Co-Founder, Dr Jamie Beaton and CGA's Admission Expert Alex Cork on the importance of taking AP subjects for high school students.

Apply for AP Physics C with CGA

Interested in studying AP Physics C and ready to take the next step? Speak with one of our Academic Advisors to learn more about CGA's online AP Physics C course.


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