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Honors/AP textbooks

  1. Oct 29, 2008 #1
    So I just finished two years of post secondary liberal arts. And ive decided to switch to sciences. Yay!

    However, during high school I regrettably didnt pay much attention to the sciences, and may have even failed a few... So now im at the local community college retaking math and chem 12 and physics for the first time. Now that im actually applying myself and doing the problems I quite enjoy it and have no troubles. However, its not challenging enough. I even began looking over the 12 material and its more of the same. The topics are interesting but the problems are easy.

    Anyways, I've read a lot of the reviews and sites about the honors and AP physics(B) textbooks used. But it seems they're quite contradictory of each other. Its also unclear which text is used for which level. It seems one may be used for both, in which case im assuming they would divide the topics (or skip the harder problems?). In other cases, at one institution they may use a text for honors, while at a different institution they use that same text for AP. I could see how that would work given that the course was structured accordingly. However, in my situation there will be no lecture or assignments to supplement the text (besides the class that I'm in now which is just skimming the bare essentials).

    Does anyone have any opinions on the current honors and AP texts being used (Algebra based). Or experience with them? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2008 #2
    What you could do is get a Barron's AP Physics book, that'll cover everything you'll need to know. Barron's is the best imho for AP classes, raised my US History grade by at least two points, probably three.

    The Sparknotes Power Packs are terrible, avoid them like the plague. BUT, the SparkCharts that they make are very useful and helpful, look into those.
  4. Oct 30, 2008 #3
    This book mentioned in this thread (Head First Physics) is algebra-based. It's designed to cover the mechanics topics in AP Physics B as a self-teaching supplement to a textbook. So you spend 44 pages exploring vectors through doing a treasure hunt, rather than being told "everything you might need to know about vectors" in about three pages.


    It also covers the math as you go along, and doesn't assume you've already passed math / physics at lower levels. The thread links to some online samples so you can see if you think it's the kind of thing you're looking for.

    (PS. I should probably mention here that I wrote it, and I hope it's OK to mention it in this context.)
  5. Oct 30, 2008 #4
    Would it be advisable to use an AP text if ive never taken physics before? The math wouldnt be an issue. But shouldnt I have some exposure to physics thinking and problem solving before I hop into an AP introduction? Ideally, id rather go through an honors course before AP. But im having a problem finding a strictly honors text, or any physics 11 for that matter. The text used for the class im in now, heath (which is atrocious), covers the basics, but doesnt push you at all with regard to the concepts or problems. Do a lot of teachers just use the same text for both and divide the material? Whats the difference between honors and AP anyways, if theyre using the same text? Its going to be the same difficulty of problems just different topics. However, if youre at AP level you would obviously have more advanced math skills. So it wouldnt make sense to use the same text. This especially applies to calculus based.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2008
  6. Nov 2, 2008 #5


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    AP level coursework is meant to teach you at the same level as you'd learn in an introductory course at the university level. So, any introductory university text would be suitable for AP level. "Honors" level doesn't have as specific of a meaning. It just means something more advanced than the standard curriculum. The rigor of an honors program varies widely from school to school. Some may very well teach from the same book as an AP level course, or they may teach from a somewhat easier book to introduce concepts before following that with a harder AP course later in the course sequence, or it could be the same text as the non-honors course, but more of the content is covered at a faster pace. Or, as in my high school, there was only honors and AP physics. Students who weren't in the honors courses weren't taught physics as a separate subject and had other science classes to choose from. Honors physics was taught in Junior year, and then AP physics was one of many AP options in senior year.

    I hope that helps a bit to understand why there are so many different texts used in so many different schools.
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