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Studying Self Studying AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

  1. May 19, 2012 #1
    No, you didn't read the title wrong. I am really self studying a physics class.

    I just finished Mechanics (Physics I) and since I want to go to college to study physics to become an engineer or physicist. I need to take the next class, E&M (Physics II, Electricity and Magnetism). However, I reached a few problems.

    1) My high school doesn't offer AP Physics E&M. It doesn't even offer Physics I. Though you can take AP Physics I (and Calculus I and II) at OSSM's (Oklahoma School of Science and Math) regional center at the Vo-Tech and that is what I did for my junior year. However, even OSSM doesn't offer AP Physics II E&M at the regional centers (at the boarding school in Oklahoma City, they do, but I don't like the idea of a boarding school especially considering the no technology besides a graphing calculator rule so no cell phone, no tablet, and no computer).
    2) I could take Physics II at the local university, however to get credit as a Physics or Engineering major, I need Engineering Physics II. And the school, which is a crappy liberal arts school, only offers General Physics II.
    3) If I waited and took it once I graduated and moved to a city with a better university. I wasted a year by doing nothing.

    So I had three options.

    1) Don't take E&M until I graduated.
    2) Take General Physics II concurrently even though I would need to take Engineering Physics II once I moved to a better city with a better college.
    3) Self study Physics II and pass the AP Exam.

    I didn't like option one. My mom wanted me to do option two but I didn't like that idea, too. So my final option was option three, self study the class and pass the AP exam.

    After a quick Google search, I found I wasn't the first student to do this (or, at least, consider it). Though I had no idea how I would go about it. After about a week of thought, I finally figured out how I would do accomplish this.

    1) Obtain a Physics II textbook; I bought a used one off of Amazon for forty dollars and it was the same one that we used in my Mechanics class (it has E&M stuff in it too).
    2) Find college lectures for free online to watch; iTunes has a section of the store called iTunesU and it has free lectures from many universities including MIT and UC Berkeley. I downloaded the Physics II lectures from these two universities.
    3) Khan Academy, if you haven't heard of this website I recommend you read Wired's article about Khan Academy. (I can't post links yet so just Google "Wired Khan Academy" and it should be the first result). It is an amazing website with free videos explaining subjects like math, physics, economics, and much more.

    Thanks to the internet, I can learn physics. Yes, there is more to the internet than just Facebook and reddit. I'm using the internet for the purposes that it was designed too, educate.

    My routine has been thus far; watch the Khan Academy video, watch the MIT and/or UC Berkeley video, and finally read the chapter in the textbook and do some problems (it came with an answer guide since I bought the teacher's copy).

    Self studying classes isn't very crazy anymore with resources like Khan Academy and iTunesU. I'm not sure if I'm in over my head or not. It doesn't seem to hard right now, although I am only done with the first chapter (electrical charges, Coulomb's law, etc). I have until this time next year (more or less), to go through all the E&M stuff and I feel like I can accomplish this. Do you have any support, helpful advice, or do you want to troll? Share it with me below.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2012 #2


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    so you post 3 options, and don't like 2 of the 3.......
  4. May 19, 2012 #3
    I self studied for the Physics C: E&M test this year. Although I won't get the score until July, I am quite confident in a 5. I started in January, so I spent about 4 months on it, which was plenty of time.

    I'm not an expert, but I will give a few suggestions based on my experience:

    --Make sure you can do the required maths first. E&M requires some calculus not seen on the Mechanics test, like basic line and surface integrals. Although it's nothing difficult or thorough, don't let it impede your learning.

    --For a textbook, I used Electricity and Magnetism by Purcell. It certainly goes beyond AP Physics, but the easier parts are relevant and the problems are great for testing yourself.

    --I strongly recommend the MIT lectures by Walter Lewin...I watched most of these and they were excellent.
  5. May 20, 2012 #4
    There's nothing special about self studying the AP Physics C class... At our school, we been doing that for more than a decade. The teacher does not lecture for the AP Physics C students.
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