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Should I take AP Physics 1 or 2?

greatlylilacgreatlylilac Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
edited April 16 in High School Life
I am a junior who is choosing classes for senior year. Our school offered AP Physics 1 or AP Physics 1 and 2 combined. However, I got notified that our school is now no longer offering 1 and 2 combined, and is switching to offering them separately. Everyone takes a regular or honors physics class freshman year, so I do have a background in physics, although who knows how much I remember, since it's been 2 years since taking honors physics. I want to go into engineering or some sort of science.

Just from reading the descriptions, AP Physics 1 seems more interesting to me. However, would physics 2 look better to colleges? I don't know if 1 and 2 would really be viewed differently, since they just seem to cover different topics instead of one being more highly ranked another. Also, I would probably be taking an AP Physics C Exam no matter which class I take, which further reinforces the notion that these two classes might be equal after all.

Here are the course descriptions I got in the email from the school that notified me of the change:

AP Physics 1:
Covers all of the topics studied in 9th grade physics (mechanics) at a deeper level that is commensurate with the AP curriculum. In addition, some new topics, such as momentum, rotational topics, and circuits, will be studied. It is expected that students will take the AP Physics 1 exam or the AP Physics C Mechanics exam in May.

AP Physics 2:
Will cover topics that are not addressed in 9th grade, such as fluids, heat, AC and DC circuits, magnetism, light, optical instruments, diffraction, quantum physics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, and relativity. The course will also include opportunities to briefly explore physics concepts from AP Physics 1 that are needed for success in AP Physics 2. It is expected that students will take the AP Physics 2 exam or the AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism exam in May. Students wishing to take the AP Physics 1 exam or the AP Physics C Mechanics exam will be given materials to prepare for these opportunities outside of classtime.

Replies to: Should I take AP Physics 1 or 2?

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 34,471 Super Moderator
    Just to be clear, since your school did not communicate it (at least as you listed), AP Physics C requires calculus, so I am assuming you have taken or will take calculus?

    I would also suggest you ask how past students have fared on the AP exams. AP Physics 1 and 2 both have low pass rates, and I question that the school is being overly ambitious thinking a single class can prepare for either the AP Physics 1/2 exam or the Physics C exam.

    Traditionally, in both HS and college, mechanics is taught before E&M. Not saying that one couldn't do AP Physics 2 first, but it certainly would not be my recommendation.
  • greatlylilacgreatlylilac Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Thanks for the response! I am currently taking honors precalc and will take AP Calc BC next year, so I will be learning calculus.
  • greatlylilacgreatlylilac Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    edited April 17
    I think I'll take AP Physics 2, since I have already had a high school introductory course in physics. I still have the notes from honors freshman physics because our teacher back then recommended us to keep our notes in case we take AP down the road. Also, it seems like taking physics 2 will give me greater flexibility in terms of what AP tests I can take later on.
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 10,410 Forum Champion
    Also keep in mind that is it normal to take a science and then an AP version of it later on. People take freshman Bio and then AP Bio all the time. So it is perfectly normal to do it with Physics.
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