The Course

AP Physics C: Mechanics

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Course Overview

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a one-semester, calculus-based, college-level physics course, especially appropriate for students planning to specialize or major in one of the physical sciences or engineering. Students cultivate their understanding of physics through classroom study and activities as well as hands-on laboratory work as they explore concepts like change, force interactions, fields, and conservation.

Laboratory Requirement and Lab Notebooks

Laboratory experience must be part of the education of AP Physics C students and should be included in all AP Physics courses. Colleges may require students to present their laboratory materials from AP science courses before granting college credit for laboratory, so students are encouraged to retain their laboratory notebooks, reports, and other materials.

Course and Exam Description

Course Resources

Draft Revised Curriculum Framework Available

Teachers are invited to preview the revised curriculum framework for Physics C: Mechanics and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. It’s been developed to create a more unified approach across all four AP Physics courses and to more accurately reflect the current expectations of introductory college courses. We'll provide further information in Fall 2022 on the timing and launch of the revised framework.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on big ideas that encompass core principles, theories, and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students to make connections across domains through a broader way of thinking about the physical world.

The AP Physics C: Mechanics framework is organized into seven commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. As always, you’ll have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

Unit

Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

Unit 1: Kinematics

14%–20%

Unit 2: Newton’s Laws of Motion

17%–23%

Unit 3: Work, Energy, and Power

14%–17%

Unit 4: Systems of Particles and Linear Momentum

14%–17%

Unit 5: Rotation

14%–20%

Unit 6: Oscillations

6%–14%

Unit 7: Gravitation

6%–14%

Science Practices

The AP Physics C: Mechanics framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called science practices, that students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like physicists.

Skill

Description

Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

Exam Weighting (Free-Response Section)

1. Visual Representations

Analyze and/or use representations of physical situations, excluding graphs.

14–17%

4–7%

2. Question and Method

Determine scientific questions and methods.

3–6%

6–11%

3. Representing Data and Phenomena

Create visual representations or models of physical situations.

Not assessed in the multiple-choice section

13–20%

4. Data Analysis

Analyze quantitative data represented in graphs.

14–17%

8–13%

5. Theoretical Relationships

Determine the effects on a quantity when another quantity or the physical situation changes.

25–34%

20–24%

6. Mathematical Routines

Solve problems of physical situations using mathematical relationships.

14–20%

20–24%

7. Argumentation

Develop an explanation or scientific argument.

14–20%

11–18%

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role in developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The AP Higher Education section features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

This chart shows recommended scores for granting credit, and how much credit should be awarded, for each AP course. Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the AP Credit Policy Search.

Meet the AP Physics C Development Committee

The AP Program is unique in its reliance on Development Committees. These committees, made up of an equal number of college faculty and experienced secondary AP teachers from across the country, are essential to the preparation of AP course curricula and exams.