AP Physics B (Physics 1 and 2)

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AP Physics 1 and 2

Beginning in fall 2014, AP Physics B was replaced by two new courses—AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2. The new courses are each equivalent to a one-semester introductory algebra-based college physics course. Learn more about the AP course and exam redesign.

Submit your college's policy for AP Physics 1 and 2

Foundations of the Redesign

AP reexamined AP Physics B in light of a National Research Council study titled Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. The NRC report recommended that a two-year sequence of advanced physics study replace Physics B, enabling students to delve deeper into key physics concepts as they develop the reasoning and inquiry skills necessary to think like scientists.

A curriculum study of first- and second-semester college algebra-based physics courses informed the work of the committee. Physics 1 and Physics 2 were modeled upon the content coverage in the syllabi submitted during the study.

In 2011, 57 college physics faculty members were asked to review and validate the proposed Physics 1 and Physics 2 curriculum. These faculty members confirmed:

  • The new Physics 1 and Physics 2 curricula would prepare students for success in subsequent college-level physics courses.
  • The essential knowledge outlined in the curriculum frameworks for both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 is well-matched overall to the curriculum taught in the corresponding semesters of introductory college physics.

Overall, they were in favor of granting credit or placement to students earning qualifying scores on each of the two exams.

A follow-up study with 77 physics faculty members was conducted to ensure that each concept covered in the curriculum received appropriate coverage.

Course and Exam Overview

The Physics 1 and Physics 2 curricula focus on the investigation of seven big ideas in the introductory college-level physics sequence and seven science practices, providing students with enduring, conceptual understandings of foundational physics principles. These big ideas are:

  • Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure.
  • Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.
  • The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces.
  • Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems.
  • Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws.
  • Waves can transfer energy and momentum from one location to another without the permanent transfer of mass and serve as a mathematical model for the description of other phenomena.

AP Physics 1 covers:

  • kinematics
  • Newton’s laws of motion;
  • torque;
  • rotational motion and angular momentum;
  • gravitation and circular motion;
  • work, energy, and power;
  • linear momentum;
  • oscillations, mechanical waves and sound;
  • introduction to electric circuits

AP Physics 2 covers:

  • fluid statics and dynamics;
  • thermodynamics with kinetic theory, PV diagrams and probability;
  • electrostatics;
  • electrical circuits;
  • magnetic fields;
  • electromagnetism;
  • physical and geometric optics;
  • topics in modern physics

For more information, review the course and exam description.

AP Physics 1 Development Committee

Committee Co-Chairs

Andrew R. Elby, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Dolores Gende, Pine Crest School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Committee Members

Margaret (Peggy) Ankney, Pennsylvania State University (Harrisburg), Middletown, Pennsylvania

Nicholas J. Giordano, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Christina Haire, Owensboro, High School, Owensboro, Kentucky

Rebecca Messer, Northfield High School, Northfield, Minnesota

College Board Advisor

Matthew Sckalor, William A. Shine Great Neck South High School, Great Neck, New York

Chief Reader

Peter Sheldon, Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia

AP Physics 2 Development Committee

Committee Co-Chairs

Paul Lulai, St. Anthony Village High School, St. Anthony Village, Minnesota

Gay B. Stewart, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia

Committee Members

Gerald Feldman, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Derrick Hylton, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

Martha Lietz, Niles West High School, Evanston, Illinois

Oather Strawderman, Lawrence Free State High School, Lawrence, KS

College Board Advisor

Rebecca Howell, Lambert High School, Suwanee, Georgia

Chief Reader

Jiang Yu, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, Massachusetts