Hey there, In my high school path the prerequisite for AP Physics C Mechanics is foundations of calculus and offered only in Junior year. However prior to that with my class schedule I would have only taken biology honors and chemistry (freshman) and AP Chem (sophomore). In Math I will be in AP Calc AB Junior year. Would you recommend before I take this AP Physics in Junior year which everyone claims is the hardest that I should take some physics intro? Unfortunately with orchestra my schedule is full so should I take a self study physics intro class and will that help to prep for the AP or any other reco? Thanks
I’m taking AP Physics C Mechanics right now and I would say that you should definitely take an intro course. You will be lost if you don’t since AP Physics elaborates more on those topics.
See if your school offers some basic physics course over the summer?
(Because yes you need an intro course).
Many college calculus-based physics courses for physics and engineering majors (that AP physics C tries to emulate*) recommend high school physics as a prerequisite, in addition to calculus.
It is possible to take such a course without prior high school level physics, but it will probably be more difficult than if you have seen a high school level introduction to the subject.
*Some colleges do not consider AP physics C in-depth or mathematically intensive enough to allow it to give subject credit for calculus-based physics for physics and engineering majors, or they require a 5 to get subject credit.
I agree that an intro physics course would be helpful, but I also think it isn’t necessary. My own S took AP Physics C mechanics and E&M in his junior year without any prior physics exposure. The materials in AP Physics C is independent of other courses with the exception of some calculus.
Agree with @1NJParent as our S and others did the same. The prerequisite at their school is concurrent calc, though pretty much all the kids in the class had taken BC in 10th. Be prepared to work hard though. Our S found the E&M portion took more effort, though then when he studied for the physics SAT realized his teacher wasn’t the greatest. Nonetheless, he says it’s the hardest class he took in HS.
E&M in college calculus-based physics commonly has a corequisite of multivariable calculus. The AP course has no such corequisite, since multivariable calculus is not commonly taken in high school (generally, as opposed to the elite high schools commonly assumed on these forums). Some students find physics easier to understand if more math is used.
More math is helpful in learning physics, but there’s also a downside. Students tend to rely on math and be satisfied with formulas, rather than a fuller understanding of the physics in physics. The physics in E&M can be understood without multivariable calculus.
OP did not ask about E&M - just mechanics. Move on please.
Another aspect to consider is if others in your class will have taken Honors Physics or another physics before taking this class…if you are the only one who hasn’t seen any physics before it will be tough.
It is like you are trying to take a college physics class without taking it in HS. Can be done, but will be much harder. WHat other classes are you taking?
I think it also depends if your schools does mechanics over the course of the entire year or in one semester. If it’s over the course of the year, the pace is slower and should be more doable. If it’s a traditional AP physics C where mechanics is one semester and E&M is the next, the pace is super fast and a prior intro class and at least concurrent calculus is best.
My D’s school required honors physics as a prereq and concurrent AP calc. The AP calc teacher also switched up the curriculum because some concepts were necessary for mechanics before they would have typically come up in the course progression. She also added concepts second semester to better align with math necessary for E&M.
At our school most kids that are taking AP Physics C - Mechanics, have taken AP Calculus BC the year before as Juniors. The kids that don’t have the Calc BC the year prior, or only AB concurrently, are the ones who struggle the most. Not all have prior Physics courses, but most do and that also helps a lot. The few who haven’t taken a prior physics course are at a disadvantage, however, a lot of it is the teacher and how well they teach. In our case, not great, so a good student will use outside resources to learn it.
Many kids then wind up retaking it in college anyway, even if they get the minimum 3 on the AP test that many colleges give credit for, although if in engineering related field you need a 5 and if going into higher level Physics you probably want a 5.
If your school offers AP Physics 1/2 you may want to take that instead. It’s a lot easier and more Algebra based and is the course some kids at our school take before AP Physics C if they didn’t take Honors Physics previously. The issue though with 1/2 you really don’t get college credit for it in Engineering at all but it shouldn’t be about the credit, but more about just taking courses that challenge and interest you.
Thank you. The issue is our school only offers regular Physics and AP Physics C Mechanics so there is not much of a choice and also given my course load with orchestra and rest I am unable to take regular physics so looks like I may just have to do an independent study online class so I get the basics before jumping straight in without the background.
My daughter took AP Physics C Mechanics with no previous Physics course junior year and she did very well. She had however already taken AP Calc AB the prior year, so that helped.