Advanced Placement

The Difference Between AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

As you're deciding which AP courses to take next school year, you may find yourself wondering about the differences between courses that have similar names. In this post, we’re breaking down the differences between AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based.

 

What are AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based?

 

AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based is an introductory course in which you will explore the foundational principles of physics with hands-on laboratory learning.

The units included in this course and exam are:

  • Kinematics (Unit 1)
  • Dynamics (Unit 2)
  • Circular Motion and Gravitation (Unit 3)
  • Energy (Unit 4)
  • Momentum (Unit 5)
  • Simple Harmonic Motion (Unit 6)
  • Torque and Rotational Motion (Unit 7)

 

AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based is a course in which you will explore additional topics in physics with hands-on laboratory learning.

The units included in this course and exam are:

  • Fluids: Pressure and Forces (Unit 1)
  • Thermodynamics (Unit 2)
  • Electrical Force, Field, and Potential (Unit 3)
  • Electrical Circuits (Unit 4)
  • Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction (Unit 5)
  • Geometric and Physical Optics (Unit 6)
  • Quantum, Atomic, Nuclear Physics (Unit 7)

 

How are these courses different?

The AP Physics 1 course is equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics. At the time you start taking this course, it's beneficial to have completed a course in geometry and be taking (or have completed) a course in algebra 2.

The AP Physics 2 course is equivalent to a second-semester college course in algebra-based physics. At the time you start taking this course, you should have already taken AP Physics 1 and be taking (or have completed) a course in precalculus.

The AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 courses contain similar content to what is taught in AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. However, both AP Physics C courses are calculus-based. At the time you start taking either AP Physics C course, you should be taking (or have completed) a calculus course.

To learn more about other AP courses and materials, visit https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/