# Episode 16 - What is the Difference Between AP Physics 1 and 2 and C?

TLDRAlex Hall explains the differences between AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, and AP Physics C exams. He clarifies that while AP Physics 1 and C: Mechanics are similar with a 90% overlap and both require strong math skills, including calculus for AP C, AP Physics 2 covers a broader range of topics including thermodynamics, optics, and modern physics, but with less emphasis on calculus. The sequence of taking these courses is important, with a solid understanding of mechanics being foundational for all.

###### Takeaways

- π AP Physics offers multiple exams (Physics 1, Physics 2, and two sections of Physics C: Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism), which can be confusing for students and parents.
- π€ The main difference between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C: Mechanics is the level of math involved, with Physics C expecting more advanced math skills, including calculus.
- π AP Physics C: Mechanics covers similar topics as AP Physics 1 but with a deeper understanding and more complex problem-solving.
- π There's significant overlap (about 90%) between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C: Mechanics, but less (around 50%) between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2.
- π AP Physics 2 focuses on a broader range of topics including thermodynamics, optics, waves, and modern physics, in addition to electricity and magnetism.
- π AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism requires a strong understanding of vectors and is more advanced than the algebra-based content in AP Physics 2.
- π― Students should have a solid foundation in mechanics before proceeding to other AP Physics courses, as they build upon core concepts from mechanics and motion.
- π Students can intermix the order of taking AP Physics courses, but a strong grasp of mechanics is essential for all subsequent physics courses.
- π οΈ AP Physics C is generally geared towards students interested in engineering, while AP Physics 1 and 2 provide a broader overview of physics topics.
- π It's not advisable to skip any mechanics course as all AP Physics exams assume knowledge from mechanics and motion.

###### Q & A

### What is the primary difference between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C Mechanics?

-The primary difference is that AP Physics C Mechanics involves more math, including an expectation of calculus knowledge, whereas AP Physics 1 focuses more on algebra-based physics concepts.

### Why are AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C considered similar courses?

-They are considered similar because there is about a 90% overlap in content, with the main difference being the increased mathematical complexity and calculus requirement in AP Physics C.

### What topics are covered in AP Physics 2 that are not in AP Physics C Mechanics?

-AP Physics 2 covers thermodynamics, optics, waves, and modern physics topics, in addition to electricity and magnetism, which are not covered in AP Physics C Mechanics.

### Is it beneficial to take both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C Mechanics?

-There is not much benefit in taking both unless a student seeks a deeper understanding of mechanics and is prepared to handle the more advanced math involved in AP Physics C Mechanics.

### What is the recommended sequence for taking AP Physics courses?

-The recommended sequence is to start with mechanics, either through AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C Mechanics, and then move on to either AP Physics 2 or AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism based on the student's interests and goals.

### What math skills are expected in AP Physics C courses?

-AP Physics C expects students to have a strong foundation in algebra and to have mastered some calculus, specifically first-semester calculus or calculus AB material.

### How does AP Physics 2 differ from AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism in terms of content coverage?

-AP Physics 2 covers a broader range of topics including thermodynamics, optics, waves, and modern physics, while AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism focuses solely on electricity and magnetism with a deeper mathematical understanding.

### Can a student take AP Physics C Mechanics without concurrent calculus?

-A student can take AP Physics C Mechanics without taking calculus concurrently, but they are expected to have a full mastery of calculus by the time they take the AP exam.

### What is the significance of understanding mechanics before moving on to other AP Physics courses?

-Understanding mechanics is crucial as it forms the foundation for other topics in physics. All AP Physics courses, including Physics 2 and Electricity and Magnetism, assume knowledge from mechanics and motion.

### Is it advisable to skip the mechanics part of the AP Physics curriculum?

-No, it is not advisable to skip the mechanics part as all AP Physics courses assume a significant understanding of core concepts in mechanics and motion.

### How do the AP Physics courses align with university-level physics sequences?

-AP Physics C is geared more towards an engineering physics sequence with a focus on calculus, while AP Physics 1 and 2 align more with an algebra-based physics sequence, providing a broader overview of physics topics.

###### Outlines

##### π Introduction to AP Physics Courses

This paragraph introduces the speaker, Alex Hall, and sets the stage for discussing the differences between various AP Physics courses. It highlights the common confusion among students and parents regarding the multiple AP Physics exams available. The paragraph outlines the basic structure of the physics curriculum, emphasizing the study of mechanics as the foundational topic. It then compares AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C: Mechanics, noting a 90% overlap in content but a significant difference in the level of math required, with AP Physics C expecting a deeper understanding of calculus. The summary underscores the importance of a solid grasp of mechanics before moving on to other topics in the physics curriculum.

##### π Sequencing and Differences Between AP Physics 1, 2, and C

This paragraph delves into the sequencing of AP Physics courses and the differences between AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. It explains that while AP Physics 1 and C: Mechanics are quite similar, AP Physics 2 covers a broader range of topics including thermodynamics, optics, and modern physics, but in a less mathematically intensive manner compared to C: E&M. The paragraph also discusses the appropriate sequencing of these courses, suggesting that a strong foundation in mechanics is essential before tackling the other courses. It mentions that students can choose different paths through these courses, but warns against skipping the mechanics foundation, as it is crucial for understanding the core concepts tested in all the AP Physics exams.

###### Mindmap

###### Keywords

##### π‘AP Physics

##### π‘Mechanics

##### π‘Calculus

##### π‘Electricity and Magnetism (EM)

##### π‘Thermodynamics

##### π‘Optics

##### π‘Modern Physics

##### π‘Algebra

##### π‘Course Sequencing

##### π‘Physics C

##### π‘Vectors

###### Highlights

AP Physics offers multiple exams, unlike AP Biology and Chemistry which have only one exam each.

There is a 90% overlap between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C Mechanics, with the main difference being the level of math and calculus expected in the latter.

AP Physics C Mechanics involves more advanced algebra and requires a full mastery of calculus or calculus AB material.

AP Physics 2 covers a broader range of topics including electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, optics, and modern physics, compared to AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C Mechanics.

AP Physics 2 requires a deeper understanding of the topics and more complex problem-solving, but calculus is not required.

AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism (EM) focuses solely on EM, whereas AP Physics 2 includes EM along with other topics.

For AP Physics C EM, a better understanding of vectors is important, which is typically learned in multi-variable calculus.

Physics C is geared more towards engineering students, while AP Physics 1 and 2 provide a broader cross-section of physics topics.

It is advised to have a solid foundation in mechanics before taking any of the other AP Physics courses.

Skipping mechanics is not recommended as it forms the core understanding required for the other AP Physics exams.

There are various pathways through the AP Physics courses, but generally, students start with either Physics 1 or Physics C before moving on to Physics 2 or additional Physics C courses.

Retaking a course like Physics C Mechanics after Physics 1 for a deeper understanding is an acceptable approach.

The traditional sequence for AP Physics is to start with mechanics, then move on to Physics C Mechanics for a more in-depth understanding.

It is essential to understand the core concepts in mechanics as they are assumed knowledge in the other AP Physics courses.

Skipping any of the mechanics courses is not advised, as they are foundational for the rest of the AP Physics curriculum.

###### Transcripts

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