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Planning for the New AP Physics Courses

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, AP Physics B is replaced by two new courses: AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based. AP Physics B is now discontinued.

We encourage schools and districts that already offer AP Physics B or are considering physics options for 2014-15 to offer AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 as separate, full-year courses, starting in the fall of 2014.

Below is information to help school and district administrators plan to implement these two new courses, as well as information counselors can use to advise students of the best science sequence for them.

Overview of the New Courses

Splitting AP Physics B into two separate, full-year courses gives teachers the time they need to help students develop a deep understanding of foundational physics principles through an inquiry-based instructional approach. This will better prepare students for success in future course work in the sciences. The full year also gives teachers flexibility to explore some extra topics that align either to their own expertise or to physics content standards as specified by their state.

  • AP Physics 1 is equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It also introduces electric circuits.
  • AP Physics 2 is equivalent to a second-semester college course in algebra-based physics. The course covers fluid mechanics; thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; and atomic and nuclear physics.

Prerequisites

  • Physics 1: Unlike AP Physics B, which recommends a prior high school physics course, no prior course work in physics is necessary for students to enroll in AP Physics 1. Students should have completed geometry and be concurrently taking Algebra II or an equivalent course. Although the Physics 1 course includes basic use of trigonometric functions, this understanding can be gained either in the concurrent math course or in the AP Physics 1 course itself.
  • Physics 2: Students should have had AP Physics 1 or a comparable introductory course in physics. Students should have taken or be concurrently taking precalculus or an equivalent course.

Sequencing Options

Students have the following options after taking the new Physics 1 course:


Year One

Year-Two Options

AP Physics 1:
Algebra-Based

AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
(calculus-based)

and/or

AP Physics C: Mechanics
(calculus-based)

College Credit and Placement

AP recommends that colleges and universities grant one semester of credit for a score of 3 or higher on the AP Physics 1 Exam and one semester of credit for a score of 3 or higher on the AP Physics 2 Exam. However, colleges and universities set their own policies for granting credit and/or placement for AP scores. Students should contact colleges of interest to learn more about specific AP credit policies and requirements.

Getting Ready for 2014-2015

Below are some other considerations for school and district administrators as they get ready to implement the new courses:

  • Plan for professional development: School and districts should consider sending their AP Physics teachers to professional development. For more information about professional development opportunities for AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, visit the website Development for AP Physics Teachers.
  • Schools will not be required to purchase new lab equipment to accommodate either course. In most cases, teachers could consider using the textbook authorized for AP Physics B to teach the new courses.

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