AP Physics B replaced with AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2: 80,000+ students in 5,000+ schools
Guided by National Research Council and National Science Foundation recommendations, the AP Program has spent several years collaborating with master AP teachers and eminent educators from colleges and universities to evaluate and revise the AP Physics B course. This collaboration has led to a decision to replace AP Physics B with two new courses, AP Physics 1: Algebra-based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-based.
An in-depth study by the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that AP Physics B is a very broad course that “encourages cursory treatment of very important topics in physics” rather than cultivating a deeper understanding of key foundational principles and content. The NRC further concluded that students should develop a strong foundation in Newtonian mechanics, including rotational dynamics and angular momentum, topics not covered in AP Physics B. They also emphasized the need for inquiry-based instruction and in-depth exploration of topics.
To achieve these important goals, and the much-needed time for teachers to accomplish them, the NRC recommended that the course material be spread over two years. After confirming this recommendation through college curriculum studies, higher education validations, state standards reviews, and AP instructional timing trials conducted by AP teachers, the AP Program is replacing AP Physics B with two separate full-year courses. The new courses align strongly with college and university expectations and will benefit students and teachers.
- AP Physics 1: Algebra-based is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics, but it is designed to be taught over a full academic year so that AP teachers and students will have time to develop and retain a thorough understanding of the content and to focus on applying their knowledge through inquiry-based labs. The full year also allows time to include physics content specified by individual state standards. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It will also introduce electric circuits.
- AP Physics 2: Algebra-based is the equivalent to a second-semester college course in algebra-based physics, but it is designed to be taught over a full academic year so that AP teachers and students will have time to develop and retain a thorough understanding of the content and to focus on applying their knowledge through inquiry-based labs. The full year also allows time to include physics content specified by individual state standards. The course covers fluid mechanics; thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; optics; and atomic and nuclear physics.
The labs will foster student engagement in the practices of science and encourage students to experiment, analyze, make conjectures and arguments, and solve problems in a collaborative setting. The new courses will devote 25 percent of classroom time to laboratory investigations, up from 20 percent in AP Physics B.
AP Physics 1 and 2 will feature newly designed exams that reduce the number of multiple-choice questions, allowing students more time to apply reasoning skills. Each exam will have fewer free-response questions, giving students time to reason and write qualitative and quantitative explanations to justify their answers. In addition, the exams will now contain an experimental-design question that asks students to demonstrate their ability to practice science.