1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics A, B or C

  1. Aug 15, 2014 #1
    My son just enrolled in Physics B, an AP class in high school. What are the differences between A, B, and C?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  4. Aug 15, 2014 #3
    I have not heard of physics A, but physics B is the non calculus based physics usually for your physical science requirement if you are a liberal arts major. It also is required typically by kinesiology majors and sometimes Biology majors.

    Physics C is calculus based and is typically required my all physical science, math and engineering majors.
  5. Aug 16, 2014 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    AP Physics B no longer exists by that name. Beginning this fall, it has been replaced by AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, which together cover basically the same topics that Physics B did, and which (according to Wikipedia), "are designed to emphasize critical thinking and reasoning as well as learning through inquiry." I don't know what this will mean in practice.

  6. Aug 18, 2014 #5
    Thank you for your response. Since my son is going to take trig/precalc at the same time as this AP Physics class, the non-calc version makes sense. I hope he will be offered AP Physics 2 as a senior then since he will have at least some calc under his belt. Honestly, I don't see how they can really teach physics without calculus and still call it AP. Seems to me it will be really easy/basic, almost Junior High level.
    Again, thanks for your response. I will see if I can pull more info out of the teacher after school starts. The teacher wasn't at open house (which was really unusual), so all of the parents were left hanging.
  7. Sep 23, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I realize I am late to this discussion, but would like to clear up some wrong information that has been posted.

    No, "Physics A" is used to describe the typical science requirement course for liberal arts majors. It is not offered as an AP Course.
    The equivalent of Physics B is typically taken by premeds, nursing students, and biology majors. It does not use calculus.
    Life-science and premed students typically take non-calculus physics in college. It is college level, so fitting for an AP course.

    That is 2 years out of date, but it does describe the different categories (A, B, C) of physics courses on pages 5 and 6.

    There are now separate books, one for Physics C and one covering both Physics 1 & 2. The Physics 1 & 2 course description is the first link under "Resources" here:
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook