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How to study for the AP physics test without taking the class?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Is it even possible? I have a Princeton AP Physics book that is supposed to prepare you for the test, but is that enough? It's almost impossible for me to take this class, but I feel I could do well on the test. Would Barron's or Princeton cover everything I need to know for the test?

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Homework Helper
It is possible. Physics B why bother? Take physics C. You will want an actual textbook, use the tesp prep books as a supplement. Find someone who know physics to go to with questions.
  • #3
You don't need a class to prepare you for or teach you anything. In fact your learning might actually be hindered by taking the actual class since your learning curve may be a steeper than others. Like lurflurf said, just buy an actual text book instead of bothering with the low level stuff.
  • #4
I have a question: Why do you WANT to take the AP test? Is it because you don't want to take physics in college (it would be a general education class and you are planning on majoring in art, history, etc.), or because you want to skip a course and "surge ahead" in physics?

Note: I am personally against taking AP tests to surge ahead in your field of interest or related fields. In my day, you took AP tests to receive credit for subjects that you didn't want to major in (in my case, I received AP credit for history and English, leaving me more time so I could take almost all the upper level electives in math, physics and chemistry... even though I started my physics major a term late). I'd also personally suggest being a term ahead in the calculus sequence than where you are in the physics sequence (if you are ever interested in taking calculus-based physics).

That said: yes, I concur that you should know the material in an actual textbook of appropriate level... then use the test prep book(s) as review and practice.
  • #5
Thanks guys. I'm taking the test because I want to finish my AA as soon as possible. I took a year off already from my local CC and just want to get back on track. After reading this forum and wikipedia pages, I'm very interested in physics and will be hanging around for a while.

I've already passed one AP test in high school -- I got a 5 on the AP European History test. Unfortunately I can't do the same thing I did to study for that test which was practically nothing. The History Channel -- back before it showed nothing but UFO shows -- taught me more than the teacher really. Not to mention I got lucky on the essay question -- it played into my strength which was WWII.

For textbooks, which ones would you recommend? Would any do or should I use the one they at the high school? Also may I ask why I shouldn't take the Physics B test? Don't you get the same amount of credits?
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  • #6
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Physics B only requires basic algebra, Physics C requires calculus. A lot of places only accept Physics C scores because their basic physics class is calculus based. If you're just taking it for fun or to say you've taken it then B is fine if you don't know calculus, but if you want it to count as credit at a university you'll probably need to have done C.
  • #7
For textbooks, which ones would you recommend?
The AP testing site has lists of texts commonly used by colleges that are supposed to "typify the level of":

As a warning: Some institutions of higher education also ask you to provide a course syllabus, discuss the text used, and show evidence of laboratory procedures (lab notebooks etc.) in order to give credit for AP scores.

In general though, I support your motive here regarding AP testing. If you have an institution in mind, I'd look into their policies (perhaps even call someone at the institution in admissions, etc.). Good luck!
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  • #8
Alright, I studied for the AP Physics C exam (both parts) throughout the school year independently. Our school did not offer the class at the time. I actually got a 5 on both the mechanics and electricity and magnetism sections. I was able to collaborate with my physics teacher on various issues, which helped a lot and two months before the ap exam, I studied very hard for the test. I used the Barron's guide for the AP Physics C exam which covers both sections. I had to redo some problems many times and took copious notes to pull it off though. The month before the exam, I reviewed every night. However, I don't think institutions will give me lab credit since I did not do any during the school year.

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