This course provides a systematic introduction to the main principles of physics and emphasizes the development of conceptual understanding and problem-solving ability using algebra and  some trigonometry. In most colleges, this is a one-year terminal course including a laboratory component and is not the usual preparation for more advanced physics and engineering courses. However, the B course provides a foundation in physics for students in the life sciences, premedicine, and some applied sciences, as well as other fields not directly related to science.

Physics B seeks to be representative of topics covered in similar college courses, as determined by periodic surveys. Many colleges and universities include additional topics such as special relativity. Some AP teachers may wish to add such supplementary material to an AP Physics B course. Many teachers have found that a good time to do this is late in the year, after the AP Exams have been given.

Please note: Although fewer topics are covered in Physics C than in Physics B, they are covered in greater depth and with greater analytical and mathematical sophistication, including calculus applications.

The Physics B course covers the following topics:

  1. Newtonian Mechanics (35%)
    1. Kinematics (including vectors, vector algebra, components of vectors, coordinate systems, displacement, velocity, and acceleration) (7%)
    2. Newton's laws of motion (9%)
    3. Work, energy, power (5%)
    4. Systems of particles, linear momentum (4%)
    5. Circular motion and rotation (4%)
    6. Oscillations and gravitation (6%)
  2. Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics (15%)
    1. Fluid Mechanics (6%)
    2. Temperature and heat (2%)
    3. Kinetic theory and thermodynamics (7%)
  3. Electricity and Magnetism (25%)
    1. Electrostatics (5%)
    2. Conductors, capacitors, dielectrics (4%)
    3. Electric circuits (7%)
    4. Magnetic Fields (4%)
    5. Electromagnetism (5%)
  4. Waves and Optics (15%)
    1. Wave motion (including sound) (5%)
    2. Physical optics (5%)
    3. Geometric optics (5%)
  5. Atomic and Nuclear Physics (10%)
    1. Atomic physics and quantum effects (7%)
    2. Nuclear physics (3%)

For more detail on the course topics covered in Physics B and the differences from the Physics C courses, see the Course Description.

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