Getting to Know the AP Physics C: Mechanics 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.
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.
Laboratory work, data collection, and analysis are integral to the process of science and the training of students in the acquisition and limitations of scientific knowledge. If the coronavirus pandemic, or other emergency, 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 C: Mechanics 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 and related big ideas 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: Visual Interpretation
- Science Practice 2: Question and Method
- Science Practice 3: Representing Data and Phenomena
- Science Practice 4: Data Analysis
- Science Practice 5: Theoretical Relationships
- Science Practice 6: Mathematical Routines
- Science Practice 7: Argumentation
- The course provides students with opportunities to apply their knowledge of AP Physics concepts to real-world questions or scenarios (including societal issues or technological innovations) to help them become scientifically literate citizens.
- Students spend a minimum of 25% of instructional time engaged in a wide range of hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory investigations to support learning required content and developing science practices 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 C: Mechanics resource requirements:
- The school ensures that each student has a calculus-based 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 represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Physics C: Mechanics. 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 current editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. 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 C classroom, please consult the AP Physics C Teacher Community.
- Bauer, Wolfgang, and Gary Westfall. University Physics, McGraw Hill.
- Chabay, Ruth W., and Bruce A. Sherwood. Matter and Interactions: Electricity and Magnetic Interactions. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Fishbane, Paul M., Stephen Gasiorowicz, and Stephen M. Thornton. Physics for Scientists and Engineers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Giancoli, Douglas C. Physics for Scientists and Engineers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Halliday, David, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker. Fundamentals of Physics. New York: John Wiley & Sons. (or any variation on the Halliday text)
- Hecht, Eugene. Physics: Calculus. New York: Brooks/Cole.
- Knight, Randall D. Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley.
- Moebs, William, Samuel Ling, and Jeff Sanny. University Physics Volume 1. OpenStax.
- Sanny, Jeff, and William Moebs. University Physics. Forth Worth, TX: Saunders.
- Serway, Raymond A. Principles of Physics. 1st Edition. Fort Worth, TX: Saunders, 2012.
- Serway, Raymond A. and John W. Jewett, Physics for Scientists and Engineers with PhysicsNow and InfoTrac. 5th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
- Tipler, Paul A. Physics for Scientists and Engineers. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.
- Wolfson, Richard, and Jay M. Pasachoff. Physics for Scientists and Engineers. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Longman.
- Young, Hugh D., and Roger A. Freedman. University Physics. 14th Edition. Addison Wesley.
- Young, Hugh D., Roger A. Freedman, T.R. Sandin, and A. Lewis Ford. Sears and Semansky’s University Physics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
This annotated sample AP Physics C: Mechanics syllabus shows how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.
AP Physics C: Mechanics Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/457 KB)
Review this document for help creating your syllabus.
Syllabus Development Guide: AP Physics C: Mechanics (.pdf/289.14 KB)
This resource 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.