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AP Physics 1 & 2 Tips

The Ultimate List of AP Physics 1 & 2 Tips

In order for you to score a 4 or 5 on the AP Physics exam (1 or 2), it is important for you to follow the tips outlined below. In 2015, only 22.4% of students who took the AP Physics 2 exam received a grade of 4 or 5. The AP Physics 1 & 2 exams cover all of the topics in the previous AP Physics B & C exams plus some additional ones as well. Take the time to review the following tips which cover both the AP Physics 1 & 2 exams, and you’ll be well on your way to earning the highest possible score on your AP Physics exam. Relax, read and absorb the tips as you go! Good luck!

If you’re looking for an overview of AP Physics 1 review books to buy, we’ve removed those from our blog at this time. That being said, there’s a thorough breakdown of the best AP Physics 1 review books for 2019 detailed here.

How to Study for AP Physics Exam Tips

1. Know the specific topics covered on the exam: The AP Physics exam will cover a number of specific concepts including Newtonian dynamics, circular motion, universal gravitation and much more. See the following table for a comprehensive list of topics and concepts covered in the AP Physics exam:

AP Physics 1

AP Physics 2

Kinematics

Dynamics: Newton’s laws

Circular motion and universal law of gravitation

Simple harmonic motion: simple pendulum and mass-spring systems

Impulse, linear momentum, and conservation of linear momentum: collisions

Work, energy, and conservation of energy

Rotational motion: torque, rotational kinematics and energy, rotational dynamics, and conservation of angular momentum

Electrostatics: electric charge and electric force

DC circuits: resistors only

Mechanical waves and sound

Thermodynamics: laws of thermodynamics, ideal gases, and kinetic theory

Fluid statics and dynamics

Electrostatics: electric force, electric field and electric potential

DC circuits and RC circuits (steady-state only)

Magnetism and electromagnetic induction

Geometric and physical optics

Quantum physics, atomic, and nuclear physics

The two separate AP Physics exams are called AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based Curriculum Framework. Start reviewing and memorize the standard equations of rectilinear motion shown below:

v={v}_{0}+at

r={r}{0}+{v}{0}t+\frac{a{t}^{2}}{2}

r={ r }{ 0 }+(\frac { v +{ v }{ 0 } }{ 2 } )t

{v}^{2}={v}{0}^{2}+2a \left(r-{r}{0} \right)

r={r}_{0}+vt- \frac{g{t}^{2}}{2}

You will need these equations for all problems related to objects in motion. Review the concepts of distance, velocity and acceleration and know how to use and apply them to a specific problem. Often times you will be given an initial distance, velocity or acceleration or any combination thereof. Take ALL the information that is given and place it on your worksheet. Assign values to all of the given variables and then decide which equation would be most appropriate to use.

Here are some examples of the types of rectilinear motion problems you will encounter:

– Finding final velocity given initial velocity and constant acceleration

– Finding final distance given initial distance, velocity and acceleration

– Finding acceleration given initial velocity, distance and time

– Finding the velocity of an object in free fall (acceleration = -g)

– Finding the distance of a projectile given an initial velocity and angle

– Finding the instantaneous velocity or acceleration of a rotating object

2. Visit Georgia State University’s Hyperphysics website: We strongly recommend going to the Hyperphysics website for tons of basic concepts and highly detailed illustrative diagrams. You will navigate intuitively throughout the website and study whichever physics topic your mind desires. The website employs concept maps and other linking strategies to facilitate easy and smooth navigation. If you are having difficulty in understanding a particular concept in physics, it would be a great idea to visit this site.

3. Search the Internet for physics problems: Drawing from the topics outlined in the table in Tip 1, conduct the following searches using these keywords: AP Physics problems, sample kinematics problems, circular motion problems, etc. If you find a site that is relevant, bookmark it and go onto the next topic. Once you have a few websites bookmarked, start doing some sample problems. Also, some sites will have questions that are already answered and will walk you through the various steps of the problem. This is an excellent way to improve your skills in preparation for the AP Physics exam.

4. Buy one or two recommended physics textbooks: Check out a number of excellent textbooks listed on this website. Make sure that the ones you choose cover the fields of physics you need the most help in. Most of the books will cover just about all of the topics covered on the AP Physics exam. When you get them, read them carefully and do the problems listed at the end of each chapter to test your ability and competency. This will give you a good taste of what is to come when you actually take the exam.

5. Get a good calculator that has all of the common constants: We highly recommend the Casio Fx-115 ES Plus. It contains even more universal physical, thermodynamic and electromagnetic constants than you will need. It also contains a way to convert metric units into English and vice versa. Some of the constants you will need for the AP Physics exam are the following: Newton’s gravitational constant, speed of light, permittivity of free space, masses of the electron, proton and neutron.

6. Understand and memorize the following basic equations: Memorize only the basic equations that you will need for the exam. CollegeBoard has an excellent resource for this and it is broken down into all of the categories. You don’t need to memorize all the equations but you should at least know the basic ones for Newtonian mechanics, electricity & magnetism, optics (especially Snell’s Law as it relates to index of refraction), fluid mechanics, thermodynamic equations (i.e., specific heat), and atomic and nuclear physics. Here is a list of some of the basic equations you should know:

Velocity

\vec{ v }=\frac {\triangle s}{\triangle t}=\frac {ds}{dt}
Acceleration

\vec{a}=\frac {\triangle \vec {v}}{\triangle t }=\frac{d \vec{v}}{dt}
Newton’s Second Law

\vec{F} =m\vec{a}
Momentum

\vec{p} =m\vec{v}
Centripetal Acceleration

\vec{{a}_{c}} =\frac{{ \vec{v}}^{2}}{r}
Impulse Momentum

\vec{F} \triangle t=m\triangle \vec{v}
Kinetic Energy

{E}_{k}=\frac{m{v}^{2}}{2}
Power

P=\frac{\triangle W}{\triangle t} =\frac {dW}{dt}
Angular Velocity

\vec {\omega}=\frac{\triangle \theta}{ \triangle t}=\frac {d \theta}{dt}
Angular Acceleration

\vec {a}=\frac{\triangle \vec{\omega}}{\triangle t}=\frac{d \vec{\omega}}{dt}
 
[bctt tweet=”You don’t need to memorize all the equations but you should at least know the basic ones.”]

7. Know the difference between a scalar and a vector quantity: In physics both scalar and vector quantities are common. A scalar only has a magnitude and a vector has a magnitude and a direction. A vector description is considered incomplete if it does not have a direction specified. Also, realize that equations employing vector quantities contain unit vectors. These unit vectors have a magnitude of one and are pointed in the same direction as the resultant vector. The most common equations employing vector quantities are those of motion (position, velocity and acceleration), angular velocity and acceleration, torque, angular momentum, force equations including Young’s modulus, universal gravitation and gravitational potential. For equations in electricity and magnetism employing vector quantities; these include Coulomb’s Law, electric field and potential equations, electric and magnetic flux and motional and induced EMF.

8. Understand individual concepts in all of the categories: Become very familiar with all of the individual concepts of the topics listed in Tip 1. Pay attention to the units of measure for each variable and know how the variables are interrelated to each other and to the force in which they describe. Prepare a table of the basic forces and the units that are used to express those forces as a study guide. Alongside this table, create another table with the variables and their respective units for each force or property. This study guide is for your sole personal use when preparing for the AP Physics exam, but you will not be able to use it when taking the exam.

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AP Physics Multiple-Choice Review Tips

AP Physics is a three-hour exam broken into two sections, each section lasting ninety minutes long. Each section represents 50% of your total score. The multiple-choice section contains 50 multiple-choice questions and contains discrete items, items in sets and multi-select items (where two options are correct). The multi-select questions are arguably the most difficult of all the multiple-choice questions so make sure to allocate more time on these. Beginning in May 2015, each multiple-choice question only contains four answer options rather than five.

1. Review the College Board AP Physics 1 & 2 course and exam description: We highly recommend students prepare for the AP Physics exam by reviewing the College Board’s course and exam description here. The document contains many essential knowledge concepts that will significantly enhance your ability to solve problems and bolster your overall understanding of physics.

2. Practice common problems involving the force of friction: In Newtonian mechanics, the force of friction or “inclined plane” problems is very common. Let’s take a simplified example where there is no inclined plane. Suppose we have a box that has a mass of 25kg and it takes a force of 75N to move it, what is its static coefficient of friction? First we calculate the normal force Fn (which is simply the weight of the box) using the equation Fn = mg where g is the gravitational constant 9.8m/sec2. Fn = 245N. Then, to find the static coefficient of friction µ we simply take the force needed to move the box and divide it by its weight to get µ = 0.306. Since µ is the quotient of two forces of the same unit (Newtons), it is a unit-less number. For inclined plane problems you must draw a detailed diagram showing the x and y components of the weight of the box as shown below:

[bctt tweet=”Practice common problems involving the force of friction.”]

3. Know the common units of the major quantities in both the CGS and MKS systems: Study the following table which gives some of the most common units used in physics in both metric systems:

Make sure that you are consistent with the units of either system when doing problems. If the problem starts out in MKS units make sure you solve the problem in those units. If you need to convert from one system to another, make sure you are doing it properly.

4. Make diagrams for certain problems: Many problems on AP Physics are best tackled drawing a small diagram. This is especially important if you are asked to calculate a force in a particular direction. Draw a coordinate axis and any vectors or component vectors on the diagram. Mark each vector with a symbol having a defining subscript. For example, the component force of acceleration in the x direction should be denoted as ax.

5. Dissect multi-select questions: There will only be five multi-select questions on this part of the exam. Get a firm grasp of the question and then find the best two answers. Gather your thoughts and the crucial concepts of the question and read each answer carefully. If you find one that is obviously wrong, place a check mark or an “X” next to it. Use the process of elimination to the best of your ability. Draw a diagram or write down an equation that may be relevant to the question. With the equation written down it will be much easier for you to determine whether one variable is decreasing or increasing and what affect that will have on the variable pertaining to the question.

6. Review important conservation relationships: All quantities in dynamic physics are conserved. For example, in a collision between two objects, linear momentum is conserved. However, if the collision is inelastic, the kinetic energy (and also the momentum) before and after the collision are not the same although the total energy of the system is always conserved. In the inelastic case, some of the energy of the collision is taken away by internal friction and is dissipated as heat energy. The conservation of momentum relation applies to angular momentum as well (both on the macro and subatomic quantum levels). The conservation of momentum and energy are fundamental laws of physics. You will need to use them frequently when solving many problems in physics.

[bctt tweet=”The conservation of momentum and energy are fundamental laws of physics.”]

7. Know and understand the relationship between work, energy and power: Work refers to an activity involving a force in the same direction of the force (e.g., a force of 200 Newtons pushing an object 10 meters in the same direction of the force has performed 2,000 Joules of work). Energy refers to the “capacity of doing work”. In other words, you need a certain amount of energy to perform a certain amount of work. Using the previous example, we needed 2,000 Joules (2kJ) of energy to perform the task of pushing the object. Power is simply the rate of doing work, or the rate of using energy, and is the amount of work that is done during a certain amount of time P=\frac{W}{\triangle t}. In our example above, if it took us 2 seconds to move the object, the amount of power that was output was 1,000 Watts or 1kW.

8. Practice drawing vector diagrams and know how to add and subtract them: Vector diagrams and vector algebra are at the very heart of physics. It is crucial to know how to add and subtract vectors graphically using the head-to-tail approach starting at the origin of a Cartesian coordinate axis and to draw the correct resultant vector. For vector addition it does not matter which vector you draw first since addition is commutative. For subtraction, however, make sure that the vector you draw first is the one you are subtracting from. The next step(s) are the same as addition. Place the tail of the second vector at the head of the first one. Continue doing this until you have all the vectors in place. Then simply draw a line from the origin to the head of the final vector. This line will be the resultant vector of the subtraction. See the example below:

The above figure shows the resultant vector sum \vec{A}+\vec{B} in black and the resultant vector subtraction \vec{A}-\vec{B} in blue.

Below is another figure illustrating the subtraction of two vectors. Notice that the negative value of a vector points 180⁰ away (parallel and opposite) from its positive counterpart:

9. Use Kirchoff’s Loop Law for electric circuits: The AP Physics 1 exam introduces simple electrical circuits employing only resistors whereas the AP Physics 2 exam includes circuits containing RC components. The student needs to understand Ohm’s Law (E = IR) and the conservation of electrical charge (voltage energy) and currents in closed electrical DC circuits. Kirchoff’s Law is broken up into two parts: Kirchoff’s Current Law (KCL) and Kirchoff’s Voltage Law (KVL). For a more in depth discussion regarding Kirchoff’s Laws, visit this Wikipedia site.

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AP Physics Free Response Question Review Tips

There are five Free Response Questions (FRQs) on the AP Physics 1 exam. There is one based on experimental design, another related to quantitative and qualitative translation and another three that are short answers. The AP Physics 2 exam follows the same format except that there are only two short answer type questions. In scoring the FRQs, credit for the answers depends on the quality of the solutions and the explanations given. Partial solutions may receive partial credit so it is important to show all your work. A table of information and equations needed for the exam are available for students at least one year before the exam. You will be given the exact same information (values of physical constants, etc.) and equations when you take the exam. You cannot bring your own copy to the exam. See the Appendix on page 225: AP Physics 1 and 2 equations and constants here for the most recent copy (2015).

1. Use paragraph length responses: Some FRQs on the AP Physics exam will require you to provide a coherent, organized and sequential description of the situation presented. If so, provide an accurate, concise and factually based response to the question in the form of a paragraph utilizing prose. Make sure that you do not add any erroneous information or subject matter. Read the question carefully and focus on answering all parts of the question in the order that they appear.

2. Cite physical principles and equations: Style your exposition in a simple manner to describe and/or explain in a short paragraph what the question is asking for. Also, only use the appropriate equations and principles needed to answer the question. Focus only on answering the question and avoid any digression(s). You will lose credit if you only write down a bunch of equations without any written explanation. Use diagrams, equations, graphs and calculations to support your line of reasoning. Keep your paragraph(s) short to moderate in length and make sure that they make sense on the first reading.

[bctt tweet=”Use diagrams, equations, graphs and calculations to support your line of reasoning.”]

3. Describe and explain questions: Utilize your skills in writing and in depth knowledge of physical principles to answer these types of questions. Justify your answers by using an argument which is supported by key evidence. The evidence should include the fundamental law(s) of physics, diagrams, graphs, equations, calculations and data.

4. Draw a free-body diagram for mechanics and motion problems: Draw a free-body diagram for questions involving inclined plane problems, motion problems, pulley problems and any other problems having a number of vector components. In this manner, you will be able to better visualize all of the forces at a glance. Clearly indicate all the forces and their components. Use appropriate units for the numerical values of any physical quantities. Leaving out units, and directions in the case of vectors, will cost you points!

5. Skim all the problems prior to solving: Take a minute or two to quickly skim the FRQs to get an assessment or indication of which question looks easier to answer. You will likely see one or two that you feel more comfortable with so you should start on those problems first. Gauge your time to about 15 minutes for each problem.

6. Practice as many previous FRQs as possible: Two to three months before you take the AP Physics exam, review past FRQs. The College Board website will have some examples you can study. However, don’t rely on just a few samples. Here is an excellent website containing dozens of sample exams from previous years in addition to the chapter problems for the Giancoli physics textbook and the course work from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

7. Form a study group of your peers: Schedule a time and place where you can get together with classmates to discuss and solve physics problems. It doesn’t need to be a formal or weekly thing but at least communicate with them and try to meet each other from time to time. Ask them if they would be open to you calling them whenever you are having difficulty with a particular problem. You may be able to help them and they may be able to help you.

8. Underline all interim solutions: If an FRQ asks you to calculate a certain quantity which involves several steps (and most will), underline numerical values that you will be using in subsequent calculations. If you are asked to derive an equation from basic principles, make sure that you underline OR better yet, number the equations in each step of the derivation. This way you can refer to each numbered step when providing your written paragraph explaining or justifying your final answer.

9. Indicate all relevant equations, steps and principles (Laws): When answering any FRQ, it is important to show all of the equations, interim answers with the correct values and units. Since the answer to an FRQ is in a paragraph format, make sure that you indicate any core principles or key Laws of Physics that you used in order to solve or to explain the problem. We recommend drawing a box around any key interim equations or answers.

10. Use prose for paragraph responses: The style of your paragraph is important for both the AP Physics 1 & 2 exams. You must present the principles used for each FRQ in a logical manner. If the principles are out of order and you use lengthy and meaningless arguments or explanations, you will lose points. You need to write the paragraph in exposition form using prose so as to guide the reader logically and clearly to the correct answer. Use correct prose so that the sentences flow naturally. Be succinct but to the point. Do not add any irrelevant information as this will cause you to digress from the subject matter and lose points.

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Tips by AP Physics Teachers

1. Study each topic individually: Spend time studying each topic individually and one by one. Don’t skip all over the place and study just one part of Newtonian mechanics and then jump to electrostatics. Focus your energy on a single topic until you master it completely before going onto the next topic. For example, know and completely understand how to use the equations of rectilinear motion before going to harmonic motion or work-energy problems. It is always best to master one topic before proceeding to the next.

2. Use a logical progression of steps when going through the topics: This tip is related to the previous tip. Use the table at the very beginning of this article as a guide or road map to determine the order in which to study. Master the equations and concepts of kinematics first and then proceed to Newton’s Laws of Dynamics. Then proceed to the more advanced topic of circular motion which has similar concepts to kinematics except that it is focused on circular motion and the concepts of centripetal and centrifugal forces. The key is to master each topic individually before going to the next.

3. Practice and review your math skills: Since physics is applied math, being deficient in your aptitude in math will be a detriment in your ability to solve problems in physics. Review your math skills especially in the areas of advanced algebra and trigonometry. Also, review graphing methods for polynomial expressions and trigonometric functions. More importantly, know how to graph equations in both Cartesian (x, y, z) and Polar coordinates (r, θ, φ). Polishing up your adeptness in math will ensure a much smoother transition in applying it to physics and will improve your chances of getting a higher score on the AP Physics exam.

4. Practice drawing diagrams and graphs: Data is more easily recognized if it is done diagrammatically or on graphs and plots. When doing problems dealing with inclined planes, always create a drawing within a Cartesian coordinate system and label all of the forces and their component (x and y) parts. Place ALL the data given in the problem onto the diagram. As you are solving the problem, place any interim data that you have calculated onto it as well. If you do it this way you will not get lost or waste valuable time working out the details.

5. Perform each problem in a step-wise fashion: This is especially important for the FRQ portion AP Physics exam. The multiple-choice questions can be done as you would normally do on any exam. The FRQs require you to follow a logical and step-wise process. Remember, you are utilizing several concepts or equations to answer multiple questions (usually 4 or 5). Follow a natural progression when solving the problem and try not to skip any steps.

6. Understand what the equations mean: The great thing about the AP Physics exam is that they actually give you all of the equations, constants, etc. that you will need for solving each problem on the exam. You really don’t need to memorize the equations, but rather, you need to know what they say and how to use them. The reason they do this is because they are trying to assess how deep your understanding of physics is and not how good your memory is. The only downside to this is that the problems will be harder to solve. At least they give you a crutch to help you concentrate more on the underlying principles and concepts of physics which is exactly what they should be doing anyway.

[bctt tweet=”You really don’t need to memorize the equations, just what they say and how to use them.”]

7. Identify the topics you have difficulty with: When solving problems, you may very likely come to a road block. You may be stuck for one or both of the following reasons:

a. You don’t know what equation(s) to use. In this case, do the following. Write down the given variables and their numeric values from the question. Next, go to the list of equations here (listed in the Appendix on page 225) and identify which equation uses those given variables and the variable that you need. Doing this will identify at least one or two equations as possibilities. Choose the equation(s) and attempt to solve the problem again. If you are still having trouble, review the basic concepts for the specific topic and try again.

b. You know what equation(s) to use but you seem to be missing a variable or two. This usually happens when you are presented with a large word problem such as those in the FRQs. Often times they will not explicitly give the variables you need. Instead they will use wording that you need to dissect in order to extract the variable. For example: A car traveling north for 30 km reaches its initial destination in 30 minutes. It then changes course and travels at 40 km east and reaches its final destination in 30 minutes. Using vector addition, find the resultant velocity of the car. For this question you need to calculate the two velocities (north and east) individually and perform the vector addition. So the two velocity vectors to add are:

\vec{{v}_{N}}=\frac{30km}{0.5hr}=60\frac{km}{hr} North

and

\vec{{v}_{E}}=\frac{40km}{0.5hr}=80\frac{km}{hr} East

It turns out that the resultant velocity vector is the hypotenuse of a 3,4,5 right triangle and the answer is: o\vec{{v}_{R}}=100\frac{km}{hr} in the direction 53.13⁰ east of north.

8. Know and understand the common units for the variables of each equation: The units of each variable in an equation should be known and understood. There is an entire section of physics known as unit or dimensional analysis. When you perform a complex calculation you need to follow through on your units. See this website for more about dimensional analysis.

9. Label all vectors properly: Many students lose valuable points on the AP Physics exam by leaving out the small arrows above the variable letter of a vector and by leaving out the direction of that vector. Always place a small arrow above the variable’s letter if it is a vector quantity and indicate its direction. See some examples below:

\vec{v}=80\frac{km}{s}\quad Northeast;

\vec{a}=30\frac{km}{{s}^{2}}\quad at\, 60^{\circ}

\vec{a}=20\frac{rads}{{s}^{2}}\quad at\, 45^{\circ}

10. Use negative g (a= -g) in acceleration due to gravity equations: This is a very common mistake by students in physics. When using equations involving the acceleration due to gravity, remember to change the sign from positive to negative in the equation. The force of gravity and the acceleration due to gravity points down towards earth and thus needs to be a negative value in these equations.

11. Conservation of Energy applies to everything! There are applications to this main concept all over the AP1 exam… including applications to kinematics (projectile motion). Even in kinematics, you can use the idea of conservation of energy, and then cancel the masses to solve. Thanks for the tip from Kristin C. at Southwest High.

12. I would recommend that students practice working at a pace that is comparable to the AP PHYSICS 1 time frame. For example, if you know the AP test is 6 Free Response problems over the course of 90 minutes, then practice doing 1 Free Response problems in a span of 90 minutes divided by 6 problems. The worst scenario is a student not understanding the pacing needed to adequately work through the test. Thanks for the tip from Douglas P. at Upper St. Clair High.

13. If you’re absolutely stuck, try conservation of energy! As long as the problem isn’t a collision problem, you should be okay! Thanks for the tip from Melissa D.

14. Learn how to use a scaffolding equation to help make decisions.(i.e. if P triples while T is increased by a factor of 15 what happens to the volume of an ideal gas in a sealed container. Writing out the scaffold PV=nRT or PV=NkT will provide a good framework for working out the solution)Thanks for the tip from Ari E.

15. I think with AP Physics 1 and 2 there should be less of an emphasis on mathematical skills and more an emphasis on conceptual understandings. I would say a great token of advice would be to solve every conceptual question in your Physics book. I try to assign many of them for my AP students and it generates a lot of discussion. Class discussions over the questions usually lead students to have a deeper understanding of the Physics concepts. My tip: Solve as many conceptual questions as possible. Find more online and solve those. Challenge your classmates by thinking up “what if” questions. Thanks for the tip from Ross G.

16. Generate a plan. Schedule time to study that isn’t part of your typical study time for class. Maybe preview new material before you get there. Inside of your study plan, students should develop methods for assessing their knowledge. Then based on their self assessment, they should re-design their plan to help themselves master the concepts. Most importantly, student should NOT try to cram. Physics is a subject that you cannot cram for. What you know on test day likely was developed months in advance. Thanks for the tip from Ross G.

17. Knowing the fine details of a concept is what really gives insight into difficult problems. Thanks for the tip from Bill S. at AC Reynolds High.

18. Do your algebra, show your work. Thanks for the tip from Eric T. at Rocky Mountain.

19. Keep It Simple Silly! – With every complex question, it can be broken down into the different simple concepts and then solved using those concepts. The questions are not there to trick or confuse you, but to give you an opportunity to show your knowledge. Break it down and show every step along the way. K.I.S.S. Thanks for the tip from Andrew C. from Canyon Crest Academy.

20. Care must be taken to be proficient at completing questions quickly without sacrificing accuracy. Students who excel on the exam have figured out how they can identify what a question is asking and then answer it quickly without making the errors many students make when they start to race against the clock. Thanks for the tip from Takoa L.

21. Avoid pronouns in the writing section and end your conclusion in the experiment question with “if the data gives this then the conclusion must be that the claim is true. If the data says instead that then the conclusion is false.” Use if-then statements to bring together results and conclusions. Too many students lost points on last year’s circuit question AP 1 because they did not attach a conclusion at the end of the result statement. Thanks for the tip from Wayne M.

22. For the same scenario/problem, 1) Explain what is happening in words, 2) Prepare graphs of what is happening,3) Use formulas to calculate what is happening, & 4) Connect the verbal, graphical and algebraic descriptions. Thanks for the tip from Beau W.

23. On the AP test, write down every step. Pretend your grader doesn’t know anything about physics. This way you cover all conceptual ideas. Thanks for the tip from Rachel H.

24. Physics is more than plugging just numbers into equations. It is understanding the meaning behind those equations and conceptualizing the problem (with drawings) to know which numbers are appropriate with which equations. Thanks for the tip from Lena E. from La Cueva High.

25. Don’t memorize how to do problems. Use the laws and principles to get your solutions from scratch. Thanks for the tip from Todd C. from Brea Olinda High.

26. Never sit and stare at a problem– Have a plan and follow the plan- Identify what you know, draw a diagram, identify the topic, use an equation if necessary, show your work… Thanks for the tips from Stacy S.

27. Annotate and review your equation sheet. I have my students write out “key words” that indicate a certain type of problem on their equation sheet. They practice, review and re-write their annotated equation sheet through out the year to help remind them of all topics through out our course of study so nothing goes too long without being reviewed. Thanks for the tip from Stacy S.

Are you a teacher or student? Do you have an awesome tip? Let us know!

The AP Physics exam is notorious amongst the AP science exams for its tough content and extensive reading list. Still, every year thousands of students take this course and pass the exam, earning valuable experience with complex physics in addition to college credit. If physics is your passion and you hope to study it at the college level, or even if you just really love physics and are looking for another outlet, this course and exam is for you. Don’t get bogged down in the details of the exam but enjoy the problems that you solve and study in class. Think about them in terms of their amazing scientific contributions to today’s technological advancements. Get lost in the amazing power of physics and you will undoubtedly find success on the AP Physics exam.

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