AP Physics B/C

  • Thread starter Pengtoss
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  • #1
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Hi everyone!

I was going to post this in the coursework section, but was quickly alerted by the text template requiring me to elaborate upon my problem, hehe. If this is the wrong section, you may of course close/move this thread. Thanks!

In any event, I have a few questions about AP Physics B and C. Do either or both require knowledge of calculus? I may take Physics C as an online course, but right now I know that I will take Physics B as a class in my high school during my junior year.

As a sidenote, I'm planning on skipping calc AB to BC, partially because of these considerations. Is this a good idea? I've heard that if one is reasonably competent in mathematics, one should skip directly to BC because it covers all of AB, albeit somewhat more quickly. Unfortunately, many extremely intelligent (as objectively as possible) individuals at my school who are juniors this year have expressed that merely calc AB was very, very difficult, or at least sufficiently challenging to discourage skipping AB...

Thoughts, advice, and recommendations?

Thank you all very much! :)
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Physics B is just uses trigonometry, skips over derivations that require caculus, and is a sample plate for physics topics. Physics C goes in depth with only mechanics and electromagnetics, equivalent to physics I and II in many colleges. It does pre-require calculus at many schools. Many colleges don't grant credit for AP Physics B.

For your calculus query, it depends on your teacher. You can make any math course sufficiently hard. For example in my school, AB went more in depth with just single variable calculus than BC did, but BC has sequences and series to study as well. My AB teacher made her course so rigorous that the AP exam was a joke by comparison. 95% of the people in my schools AB classes got 5's. IMO they are equally hard. So choose whichever one you feel suits your needs.
 
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  • #3
jhae2.718
Gold Member
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I did both Physics C and Calc BC. You should be able to skip AB with no problems. AB isn't worth much for STEM degrees; it's considered equivalent to Calc I.

While you can take Physics C concurrently at most schools, I took it after taking BC, and I think it helped a lot to have a stronger calc background.
 
  • #4
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BC covers everything in AB in one semester (limits, derivatives, integration, area between curves, volume, AKA calculus one), then it covers topics in calculus two such as integration by parts, trig integrals, logistics series, polar, parametric,etc in the next semester. I would suggest studying derivatives and integrals if you're going to skip AB and go to BC as the class goes very fast!

AP physics C is calculus based physics, you do Newtonian mechanics first semester, and E and M second semester. I believe AP physics B is algebra/trig based, but it covers more than in AP physics C (Waves, optics, etc)
 
  • #5
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Sounds great! Thanks, guys :)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going to skip AB. The work definitely must be done, but it seems that AB is comparatively almost a time drain, as it takes a year :X Just going to get AB concepts down over the summer and go take BC.

It remains to be seen whether I'll take Physics C concurrently, but it's still something in which I'm quite interested.

Thanks again.
 
  • #6
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Physics B does not require calculus, but I think it's silly to take Physics C in addition to B. If you are reasonably bright and are concurrently enrolled in calculus, you should have no trouble taking Physics B and then studying Physics C on your own. In this case, a good bulk of the preparation is simply translating algebraic definitions into the language of calculus. The physical intuition and problem solving skills should carry over.

The AP Physics C exam itself is a joke. As expected, most of the MC questions could be answered with just Physics B knowledge, and again the calculus-based questions just make sure you understand the calculus-based definitions. On my Physics C FRQ, I had to solve an ugly separation of variables differential equation related to terminal velocity, but that was pretty much the extent to which I had to know calculus on both the Mechanics and EM portion. In any case, you should definitely get Barron's Physics C prep book if you plan on taking the exams. Halliday and Resnick is the standard textbook, but Barron's + Wikipedia + MIT OCW should be more than enough.
 
  • #7
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I'm literally taking Physics B as a class at my school; is merely using a review book and self-studying the textbook enough to take the Physics C test? My school does not even offer a class for Physics C, so I cannot take a class in the first place, haha.

Next year, I will take Honors Eng, APUSH, Calc BC (^^), AP Physics B, AP Environmental Science, and probably AP Chem. Would one be able to pull off self-learning Physics C on the side of all of that and still "have a life"? I will be a junior, if I haven't mentioned that, though USH is sort of a giveaway in that regard.

Also, I'd like to get credit for Physics C, but would I be better off merely taking the AP test? My dream school&major has always been MIT&EE, and while I'm not doing it solely for selfish college app purposes, which might look better? Physics B and C are points in which I am very interested, and I'm starting a club next year to allow kids to take the USNPO (which, correct me if I'm wrong, has levels of Physics above B as well as C). While I'm at it, what (if any) ways are there to prepare for that? So many questions...sorry to ask so much of everyone...!

I'm truly thankful! I'm a not-so-longtime-lurker, but this is a great community :>
 

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