AP Physics C: Mechanics
Calculator and Table Policies
Exam Day 2015
12:00 PMView AP Exam calendar
You will be allowed to use a calculator on the entire AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam – including both the multiple-choice and free response sections. Scientific or graphing calculators may be used, provided that they don’t have any unapproved features or capabilities. Calculator memories do not need to be cleared before or after the exam. Communication between calculators is prohibited during the exam administration. Attempts to use the calculator to remove exam questions and/or answers from the room may result in the invalidation of AP Exam scores. The policy regarding the use of calculators on the AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam was developed to address the rapid expansion of the capabilities of calculators, which include not only programming and graphing functions but also the availability of stored equations and other data. Students should be allowed to use the calculators to which they are accustomed. However, you are encouraged to develop your skills in estimating answers and orders of magnitude quickly and in recognizing answers that are physically unreasonable or unlikely.
Tables containing equations commonly used in physics will be provided for students to use during the entire AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam. In general, the equations for each year’s exam are printed and distributed with the course and exam description at least a year in advance so that you can become accustomed to using them throughout the year. However, because the equation tables will be provided with the exam, you will NOT be allowed to bring your own copies to the exam room. The latest version of the equations and formulas list is included in the appendix to the course and exam description. One of the purposes of providing the tables of commonly employed equations for use with the exam is to address the issue of equity for those students who do not have access to equations stored in their calculators. The availability of these equations to all students means that in the scoring of the exam, little or no credit will be awarded for simply writing down equations or for answers unsupported by explanations or logical development.
In general, the purpose of allowing calculators and equation sheets to be used in both sections of the exam is to place greater emphasis on the understanding and application of fundamental physical principles and concepts. For solving problems and writing essays, a sophisticated scientific or graphing calculator, or the availability of stored equations, is no substitute for a thorough grasp of the physics involved.