beginning of content:

Getting to Know the AP Physics 1 Course

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the course and exam.

AP Physics 1 Course and Exam Description

Hands-On Labs

If you’re teaching an AP science course for the first time, please submit evidence for the hands-on lab curricular requirement following the same process as in a typical school year.

If the coronavirus pandemic is preventing your school from providing onsite access to a laboratory environment, instruments, and materials, the 25% instructional time spent on the hands-on lab requirement can be met in the following ways:

  • Virtual labs
  • Simulations accompanied by student work (data collection, data analysis, etc.)
  • Labs that can be safely conducted at home

Regardless of the way the hands-on laboratory requirement is met, all student laboratory experiences must continue to be supervised by a science educator. As outlined in the curricular requirements, these experiences must be recorded and maintained by the student.


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

AP Physics 1 curricular requirements:

  • Students and teachers have access to college-level resources including a college-level textbook and reference materials in print or electronic format.
  • The course provides opportunities to develop student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the  course and exam description (CED).
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills related to the science practices:
    • Science Practice 1: Modeling
    • Science Practice 2: Mathematical Routines
    • Science Practice 3: Scientific Questioning
    • Science Practice 4: Experimental Methods
    • Science Practice 5: Data Analysis
    • Science Practice 6: Argumentation
    • Science Practice 7: Making Connections
  • The course provides students with opportunities to apply their knowledge of AP Physics concepts to real-world questions or scenarios to help them become scientifically literate citizens.
  • Students spend a minimum of 25% of instructional time engaged in a wide range of hands-on laboratory investigations with an emphasis on inquiry-based labs to support the learning of required content and development of science practice skills throughout the course.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to record evidence of their scientific investigations in a portfolio of lab reports or a lab notebook (print or digital format).

AP Physics 1 resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level physics textbook (in print or electronic format) for individual use inside and outside the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of the most recent edition of a college-level physics textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • The school ensures that students have access to scientific equipment/materials, all necessary resources, and adequate time to conduct hands-on, college-level physics laboratory investigations as outlined in the teacher’s course syllabus.

The list below shows examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Physics 1. The list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

The specified editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Physics 1 resource requirements. Earlier editions of these textbooks or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP curricular requirements if published within the last 10 years. While every effort is made to keep this list current, it can take a few months for newly published titles and revised editions to be reviewed.

For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP Physics 1 classroom, please consult the AP Physics Teacher Community.

  • Cutnell, John D., Kenneth W. Johnson, David Young, Shane Stadler. Physics (Physics 1). 10th edition. Wiley.
  • Etkina, Eugenia, Michael Gentile, and Alan Van Heuvelen. College Physics. 2nd edition. National Geographic Learning/Pearson.
  • Ingram, Douglas and David Anderson. OpenStax College Physics for AP® Course 1. 1st edition. OpenStax.
  • Knight, Randall J., Brian Jones, and Stuart Field. College Physics: A Strategic Approach. 4th Edition. Pearson.
  • Serway, Raymond A. and Chris Vuille. College Physics (AP Edition) 11th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  • Stewart, Gay, Roger A. Freedman, Todd Ruskell, and Philip R. Kesten. College Physics for the AP Physics 1 Course. 1st Edition. Bedford, Freeman, and Worth.

This annotated sample AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based syllabus shows how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.

AP AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/977 KB)

Get Started

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Sign up.