The rollout of AP Physics 1 and 2: Many leading universities embracing new courses

Responses from 35 postsecondary institutions to an inquiry by a unit of the American Physical Society show that many leading universities are planning to award credit to students who score well on the new algebra-based AP Physics courses.

AP Physics B, the AP program’s present algebra-based course, is being taught for the last time during the present academic year.  Next year, exams will be offered for the new courses, AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, which are each intended to cover about half the content covered by the present AP Physics B course.  Most postsecondary institutions awarded credit for the entire two-semester algebra-based physics sequence for a passing score on the AP Physics B course.  In contrast, AP Physics 1 is intended to result in credit only for the first semester algebra-based course, while AP Physics 2 would provide college credit for only the second semester algebra-based course.

The “breaking up” of AP Physics B into two courses has allowed the developers of the new courses to add topics such as rotational dynamics to the syllabus.

Postsecondary institutions must run the new courses through an approval process for college credit that hasn’t been necessary for previous revisions of AP science courses.  While revisions of AP Biology and AP Chemistry have been rolled out during the last few years, the course titles have remained the same and previous credit-granting policies for those courses were unchanged.

Postsecondary institutions responded to an e-mailed inquiry sent by the APS Forum on Education to its members.  The institutions responding covered a range from elite to community college.

The results as of April 10:

Credit for both semesters of algebra-based physics for scores of 5:  Notre Dame, Purdue

Credit for both semesters of algebra-based physics for scores of 4 or 5:  Brigham Young University, Colgate University, Portland State University, Randolph College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Sarah Lawrence College, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Credit for both semesters of algebra-based physics for scores of 3, 4 or 5:  Colorado State University, Ohio public university system (including Ohio University and Ohio State University), Roosevelt University, University of Arkansas

Credit for first semester of algebra-based physics with score of 4 or 5:  Davidson College

Will not award credit:  Hudson Valley Community College

Do not offer algebra-based physics and therefore will not offer credit for Physics 1 and 2:  Amherst College, Colorado School of Mines, Georgia Tech, Goshen College, University of California-Santa Clara, Wabash College

No decision yet:  Auburn University, Baylor University, Cal State System,  Florida public colleges and universities, Emory University, James Madison University, Lafayette College, Northern New Mexico College, Oral Roberts University, Tufts University, University of Colorado, University of Hartford

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