All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization by going through the AP Course Audit. This means submitting two things:
- A subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
- A course syllabus
Teachers have the option to create their own syllabus or adopt one of the sample syllabi provided. A teacher-created syllabus is checked by our reviewers to ensure that the course fulfills the AP Program’s course-specific curricular and resource requirements.
We offer plenty of resources, below, to help teachers understand course requirements and create a syllabus that fulfills these.
Designing Your AP Physics 1 Course
The AP Physics 1 course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory yearlong algebra-based college course in physics that includes a laboratory component. Your course should include topics in both classical and modern physics as indicated in the course and Exam Description.ed
Schools’ AP Physics 1 courses are typically designed to be taken by students after the completion of a first-year high school physics course. Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is necessary. Graphing calculators are recommended (but not required) for use during the course and during the free-response section of the exam. Students are encouraged to keep copies of their laboratory work for use in determining college credit or placement.
Getting to Know the Course and Exam
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 AP course and exam.
- AP Physics 1 Course and Exam Description (.pdf/6.67MB) - Describes in detail the AP Physics 1 course and exam. Includes the curriculum framework and a representative sample of exam questions.
Creating Your Syllabus
Use these resources to design your syllabus.
Download this document for more help creating your syllabus.
- Syllabus Development Guide: AP Physics 1 (.pdf/232KB) - Includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.
Your course must fulfill these requirements, and your syllabus should make it clear how the requirements will be addressed.
AP Physics 1 curricular requirements:
- Students and teachers have access to college-level resources including college-level textbooks and reference materials in print or electronic format.
- The course design provides opportunities for students to develop understanding of the AP Physics 1 foundational physics principles in the context of the big ideas that organize the curriculum framework.
- Students have opportunities to apply AP Physics 1 learning objectives connecting across enduring understandings as described in the curriculum framework. These opportunities must occur in addition to those within laboratory investigations.
- The course provides students with opportunities to apply their knowledge of physics principles to real-world questions or scenarios (including societal issues or technological innovations) to help them become scientifically literate citizens.
- Students are provided with the opportunity to spend a minimum of 25% of instructional time engaging in hands-on laboratory work with an emphasis on inquiry-based investigations.
- Students are provided the opportunity to engage in inquiry-based laboratory investigations that support the foundational principles and apply all seven science practices defined in the curriculum framework.
- The course provides opportunities for students to develop their communication skills by recording evidence of their research of literature or scientific investigations through verbal, written, and graphic presentations.
- The course provides opportunities for students to develop written and oral scientific argumentation skills.
AP Physics 1 resource requirements:
- The school ensures that each student has a college-level physics textbook and reference materials, in print or electronic format, for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
- The school ensures that students have access to scientific equipment and all necessary materials to conduct 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 the 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, supporting 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 requirement. Earlier editions of these textbooks or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP curricular requirements if published within the last 10 years. 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.
The College Board has partnered with Learning List to provide independent instructional materials review services for schools and districts for several redesigned and new subjects. The example textbook lists which were reviewed by Learning List are for Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science Principles, Physics 1 and 2, Research, Seminar, European History, U.S. History, and World History.
These materials have been reviewed by Learning List. Inclusion on this example textbook list indicates some alignment to the course framework; however, it does not indicate that the material is aligned to 100% of the course framework. Learning List's’ detailed alignment reports identify the specific and Practices learning objectives p to which each material is and is not aligned to help teachers use these materials more effectively. See the Learning List reviews of these materials or contact Learning List for more information.
- Cutnell, John D., Kenneth W. Johnson, David Young, Shane Stadler. Physics (Physics 1). 10th edition. Wiley.
- Ingram, Douglas and David Anderson. OpenStax College Physics for AP® Course 1. 1st edition. OpenStax.
- Serway, Raymond A., AP Edition, AP Physics 1. 11th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.