This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering. The sequence is parallel to or preceded by mathematics courses that include calculus. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. Strong emphasis is placed on solving a variety of challenging problems, some requiring calculus. The subject matter of the AP Physics C: Mechanics course is classical mechanics and includes topics in kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion, work, energy and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; oscillations; and gravitation. 

The AP Physics C: Mechanics course is the first part of a sequence which in college is sometimes a very intensive one-year course but often extends over one and one-half to two years, with a laboratory component.

Use of calculus in problem solving and in derivations is expected to increase as the course progresses. Calculus is used freely in formulating principles and in solving problems.

Please note: Although fewer topics are covered in Physics C than in Physics1 and/or Physics 2, they are covered in greater depth and with greater analytical and mathematical sophistication, including calculus applications.

Course Topics

The Physics C: Mechanics course covers the following topics:

  1. Newtonian Mechanics
    1. Kinematics (including vectors, vector algebra, components of vectors, coordinate systems, displacement, velocity, and acceleration) (18%)
    2. Newton's laws of motion (20%)
    3. Work, energy, power (14%)
    4. Systems of particles, linear momentum (12%)
    5. Circular motion and rotation (18%)
    6. Oscillations and gravitation (18%)

For more detail on the topics covered in Physics C courses and the differences from Physics 1 and/or Physics 2, see the Course Description.

Lab Notebooks and College Credit

Colleges may require students to present their laboratory materials from AP science courses before granting college credit for laboratory, so students are encouraged to retain their laboratory notebooks, reports, and other materials.

Links to More AP Pages

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