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Physics B vs. Physics C, Calculus AB vs. Calculus BC

  1. Jul 28, 2005 #1
    I am taking Physics Honors, and Precalculus Honors this year (my Junior year). I wanted to take AP Physics in my senior year, but my school lists only "AP Physics"-would that be a combination of both B and C? And I have heard different things about AP Calculus, could I take BC after precalculus and skip AB?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2005 #2
    Physics B is prolly the one beign offered at your school. Physics C has two separate tests and is calculus based. For Physics B you don't need to know calculus to do it.
    As for Calc AB and BC. Calculus BC covers the exact same material as Calculus AB and then some (Polar Coordinates and Inifinite Series). If you can do BC since you can test out of more stuff in college. I could've taken Calc III as a freshman, but opted not to only because I wasn't comfortable with some of the material covered in Calc II. With AB the best I could've gotten into would've been Calc II.
  4. Jul 28, 2005 #3
    Thanks! :smile:
  5. Jul 28, 2005 #4
    Hmm--two tests you say?

    What are they? (and:redface:, does Barrons AP Physics C review guide cover them both?)

    And is there any additional material covered in Phyiscs B that Physics C does not include or cover? I took Physics Honors, ended up being a weak review (very easy)-->but the material Barron's Physics C covers was much more interesting, and I wish to take the AP Physics C Exam. But there are two versions of C ? Need I cover additional information if I want to study for B ?
  6. Jul 28, 2005 #5

    The Physics C has two tests, one for Mechanics and one for Electricity and Magnetism. I wouldn't know about the barrons book so I can't help you there. I think C covers the topics about the same as B, but they use calculus methods in C to solve problems. B is very good for getting a grasp of the concepts without having to struggle with the math. However, if you don't think the math will be a problem, I'd say go for the C since you are learning the same concepts.
  7. Jul 28, 2005 #6
  8. Jul 28, 2005 #7
    phys B has thermal, waves/optics, and modern physics in addition to mech and electricity/magnetism. C just has mech and EM.

    and again, if you feel like you can learn the material on your own, i'd recommend taking the BC exam. i regret not having done that myself, as i walked into calc AB knowing the material for AB. :/

    but you don't have to know all the material already--just have the patience and time available to learn some more about calculus (integration by parts, parametric equations, polar coordinates, infinite seqs and series, maybe some trig integration techniques). but... if the pacing for AB is a perfect match for you, then it would be in your best interest to focus on just that material and take that exam.

    it's better to play it safe and relearn material at the college level than not knowing the material all that well and skipping ahead to calc III. (in diff eq, you end up integrating a lot and sometimes you have to recall techniques covered in calc II. that was my experience, anyway.)
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
  9. Jul 29, 2005 #8

    My experience, if you can handle Cal BC, you can handle physics B and C. But if you cant handle BC, stay with B. All you need to know for physics C is the concept and the calculus setup of the problem. if you ensure your teacher is good enough to give you a hand for C (my teacher forgot all calculus-based physic...), you should take B since B cover E&M and mechanic conceptially (but the calculus setup and maxwell equation will become pain in butt). You will learn how to solve the calculus part in cal AB eventualy, so enroll in C doesnt make much different i think.

    I took cal AB in HS and i didnt take AP physics at all. But i end up with 5 in BC, 4 in physics B and 4 in mechanic.
  10. Jul 30, 2005 #9
    Hmm--AP Physics C exam is two tests, right?
    *My question was if I have to sign up for both separately, or are both covered in one complete AP Physics C exam? (That I sign up for just once)
    I take it the latter is true, right?
  11. Jul 30, 2005 #10
    I believe you have to sign up for each test separately, but if you do take both tests you'll only have to pay the fee once. Look on collegeboard.com website for more info.
  12. Jul 30, 2005 #11
    I got a 4 on my AP Physics B and just got my test scores back for AP Physics C. Not good, 4 on Mechanics and a 2 on EM! Ouch! EM is really the killing factor. No one in my school has ever gotten a 5 on it.

    Oh, and the calculus you learn in Physics C is beyond what you'll learn in either Calc AB or BC. Except for the fact you get college credit for AP Calc, it is really a waste of time if you're taking Physics C the same year. In Physics C you'll breeze by everything [important] you would have learned in the first semester of Calc AB in the first week or so. But thats just my school.
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