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AP Physics C: Mechanics

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Advanced Placement series.
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AP Physics C: Mechanics is an Advanced Placement science course that studies Newtonian mechanics. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. It is supposed to be equivalent to an introductory college course in mechanics for physics or engineering majors. This course, taken along with courses covering other areas, such as Electricity and Magnetism, Waves, Thermodynamics, and Modern Physics can help prepare students for the SAT Subject Test in Physics, also administered by College Board. This course is often combined with AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism to make a unified Physics C course that prepares for both exams, or it may be a separate course. In the former scenario, Electricity and Magnetism is typically taught second, as it requires much of the knowledge gained in the Mechanics course.


The exam is configured in two categories, a thirty-five (35) question multiple choice section and a three (3) question free response section.[1] In order to test knowledge as well as skills, the multiple choice section is taken without a calculator. The free response section permits the use of a calculator. The test is weighted such that each section is worth fifty percent (50%) of the final score. It is the shortest AP exam currently administered, with total time at 90 minutes.

The topics covered by the exam are as follows:[2]

Topic Percent
Kinematics 18%
Newton's laws of motion 20%
Work, energy, power 14%
Systems of particles, linear momentum 12%
Circular motion and rotation 18%
Oscillations and gravitation 18%


According to the College Board web site, "This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering."[3]

Grade distribution

The grade distribution for 2010–2013 was:
Score 2010 2011 2012[4] 2013[5]
5 26.9% 26.5% 31.3% 28.5%
4 25.2% 24.3% 26.5% 26.0%
3 20.7% 22.2% 18.9% 20.2%
2 14.7% 14.2% 12.9% 14.2%
1 12.5% 12.8% 10.4% 11.2%

The average for 2012 was 3.6.


Recently changed from 2006, College Board requires test-takers to pay separately for the Mechanics part and the Electricity and Magnetism part. Previously, test-takers paid only once and were given the choice of taking either one or two parts of the Physics C test.


  1. ^ AP: Physics C
  2. ^ AP: Physics C:
  3. ^ AP: Physics C
  4. ^ Packer, Trevor. "2012 AP Exam Score Distributions". Total Registration. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  5. ^ 2013 Score Distributions

External links

  • College Board Course Description: Physics
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