Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about the course

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism builds upon the AP Physics C: Mechanics course. It covers electrostatics; conductors, capacitors, and dielectrics; electric circuits; magnetic fields; and electromagnetism. For more details go to the two-page Course Overview (.pdf/1.24MB).

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism corresponds to one semester of an introductory, calculus-based college course. It is especially appropriate for students planning to major in physical science or engineering.

AP Physics 1 is a full-year course, equivalent to a first-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits.

AP Physics 2 is also a full-year course, equivalent to a second-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers fluid mechanics; thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; optics; and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics.

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a half-year course that corresponds to one semester of an introductory, calculus-based college course. It covers kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation.

Students should have taken or be concurrently taking calculus. While AP Physics C: Mechanics is typically taught first, it is not a prerequisite.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However, a list of example textbooks appropriate for the course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course.

Students should spend a minimum of 20 percent of instructional time engaged in hands-on lab work. Each student should complete a lab notebook or a portfolio of lab reports.

Any motivated student should be given the chance to benefit from an AP course. If your school gives the PSAT/NMSQT®, use AP Potential. This free online tool allows you to identify students who are likely to succeed in AP based on their PSAT/NMSQT® or SAT® scores. Such scores have been proven to be stronger predictors of AP success than high school grades or GPA.

These resources will help:

  • The AP Physics C Course Description (.pdf/3.21MB) defines both Physics C: Mechanics and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. If you download only one thing this year, make this it.
  • Professional development such as one-day workshops, specialty conferences, and weeklong AP Summer Institutes are great for novices and experts alike.
  • Learning Objectives for AP Physics (.pdf/516KB) elaborate on the content outline for the course, and includes objectives for lab skills.
  • The AP Physics Teacher Community gives you the opportunity to learn from colleagues and create a library of resources.

The AP Physics Teacher Community might be the best source for answers. You’ll also find articles, tools, and resources to help you teach the course on the course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submit the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty.

The AP Course Audit page for this course will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines, sample syllabi, and a tutorial.

Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and info about the whole course audit process.

Questions about the exam

These resources will help:

  • Several practice exams are available by logging in to your AP Course Audit account.
  • Free-response questions (FRQs) with student samples and scoring guidelines can be accessed from the course’s exam information page.
  • Scroll down the “Scoring” column in the free-response questions table to find yearly Student Performance Q&A’s from the Chief Reader that describe how students performed on the FRQs, typical student errors, and specific concepts that challenged students the most that year.
  • A free released exam is available on the exam resources section of the course home page, and others can be purchased on the College Board store.

The exam is given each year in early May. Go to the Exam Calendar for the most current exam dates and times.

Yes. They are given at different times.

That depends on the college. Tell your students to use the AP Credit Policy Search tool to verify the credit/placement policies at the colleges they are considering.

Go to the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exam Information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.