What You Need to Know About the AP Physics Exam (page 4)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 14, 2011

What If My School Only Offers AP Physics B and not AP Physics C, or Vice Versa? Or, What If My School Doesn't Offer AP Physics at All?

Ideally, you should enroll in the AP class for the exam you wish to take. But, not every school offers exactly what you want to take.

If your school offers one exam or the other, you are much better off taking the exam for which your teacher prepared you. Sure, if you are an absolute top Physics B student, you can probably pass the Physics C exam with some extra preparation; but if you're a top Physics B student, why not just earn your 5 on the B exam rather than take a chance at merely passing the C exam? Or, if you've been preparing for Physics C, you might think you have a better chance for success on the "easier" B exam. But, the B exam tests all sorts of topics that aren't covered in Physics C, so you're still most likely better off on the exam your class taught toward.

If your school doesn't offer either AP course, then you should look at the content outline and talk to your teacher. Chances are, you will want to take the B exam, and chances are you will have to do a good bit of independent work to learn the topics that your class didn't discuss. But, if you are a diligent student in a rigorous course, you will probably be able to do fine.

What Should I Bring to the Exam?

On exam day, I suggest bringing the following items:

  • Several pencils and an eraser that doesn't leave smudges.
  • Black or blue colored pens for the free-response section.1
  • A ruler or straightedge.
  • A scientific calculator with fresh batteries. (A graphing calculator is not necessary.)
  • A watch so that you can monitor your time. You never know if the exam room will, or will not, have a clock on the wall. Make sure you turn off the beep that goes off on the hour.
  • Your school code.
  • Your photo identification and social security number.
  • Tissues.
  • Your quiet confidence that you are prepared.

What Should I NOT Bring to the Exam?

Leave the following at home:

  • A cell phone, PDA, or walkie-talkie.
  • Books, a dictionary, study notes, flash cards, highlighting pens, correction fluid, etc., including this book. Study aids won't help you the morning of the exam … end your studying in the very early evening the night before.
  • Portable music of any kind. No CD players, MP3 players, or iPods.
  • Clothing with any physics terminology or equations on it.
  • Panic or fear. It's natural to be nervous, but you can comfort yourself that you have used this book well and that there is no room for fear on your exam.
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