Best Books to Prepare for AP Physics C

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Next year, I will be a high school senior taking AP Physics C (which is calculus based) though I have not taken any other physics courses in high school (I have completed AP Calculus BC). My future teacher recommended that I read up on fundamental physics concepts so that once I enter the class, I will not be completely confused. However, I was not quite sure what introductory textbooks would be best. I have heard a lot about Feynman's lectures and Halliday/Resnick's 'Physics' textbook, but in my particular circumstance, would these be suitable for me? What other books do you recommend? Thanks in advance for your assistance.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
WannabeNewton
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I will be taking the same course next year which is my senior year as well =D. The book Classical mechanics - Taylor was very instructive and it goes into and beyond the physics C curriculum anyways but the standard text is "University Physics" - Young. Since you have taken Calc BC and maybe have some knowledge of ODEs this book should be a piece of cake for you in terms of the mathematics.You won't be confused at all regardless of what you read though so don't worry; classical mechanics is intuitive for the most part and Physics C doesn't go into Special Relativity like some undergraduate college courses of the same level seem to do. Also, Khan Academy (google it) has lectures on regular high school physics that will definitely walk you through the fundamentals and in much shorter time but I still recommend Taylor's book because if you can get a good grip on it you will probably breeze through Physics C.
 
  • #3
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The book Classical mechanics - Taylor was very instructive and it goes into and beyond the physics C curriculum
Well, that's putting it mildly.

Taylor's Mechanics is (according to its preface) intended for college juniors who have already taken a full year of calculus-based physics. It is totally inappropriate for what the OP is asking.

To the OP: if I'm understanding what your instructor said, he is recommending that you get a book like "Conceptual Physics" by Hewitt, that talks about physics with as little math as possible. Another choice would be "College Physics" by Serway, which is algebra-based and is intended for non-physics majors.

But if that is what your teacher meant, I disagree. IMO it is harder, not easier, to understand physics without using calculus. The reason for the existence of the books I named above is that a lot of students don't want to take calculus. But if you have already taken it and done well, then IMO a calculus-based freshman physics book would be more rewarding, and actually easier to understand.

The most popular are Serway's "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" (not to be confused with his "College Physics" above), and Young's "University Physics." But you will probably use one of those in your calc-based course anyway.

So I guess I'd recommend Feynman's lectures. They don't make a great textbook, because they jump around a bit, skip some necessary steps, and have no exercises (although see the current thread about them, where the editor is saying that a new edition *will* have exercises), but they use calculus where appropriate, are great for giving you concepts and intuition, and you can fill in the blanks with one of the standard texts.

Also be aware that Ben Crowell, who frequents this forum, has free freshman physics books of both kinds (calculus and non-calculus) on his website, and they might be just what you need.

Good luck to you.
 
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Thanks for the replies.

According to my understanding, the course does use 'Physics for Scientists and Engineers', but the teacher did not recommend that I study from it, since they don't use the book all that often. I have already ordered Feynman's lectures- getting a good hold of the concepts is what I'm hoping will be enough to manage the class.
 
  • #5
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AP physics C is a hard course, but reading the feynman lectures won't help much. I would suggest just reading the book your school uses!
 
  • #6
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Thanks for the replies.

According to my understanding, the course does use 'Physics for Scientists and Engineers', but the teacher did not recommend that I study from it, since they don't use the book all that often. I have already ordered Feynman's lectures- getting a good hold of the concepts is what I'm hoping will be enough to manage the class.
If they don't use the book all that often, then IMO that is an EXCELLENT reason to study from it. It's the most popular text for a reason, and if your teacher doesn't use it much, then it will give you a different perspective on the same material, which is what you want. It's also very likely to be better organized and more understandable than whatever notes your teacher is using.

Based on that, I recommend you look on Ebay or Amazon for a used copy, a couple editions old, of Serway or Young or Giancoli or Halliday, or all four. You should be able to find editions 10 or 20 years old, for less than 10 bucks each, and they will serve you well. The main difference betwee freshman physics books 30 years old and new ones, is when the new ones have a problem about a speeding truck, they show you a picture of a truck.
 
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