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!

Courses Should I take AP Physics without ever having taken a physics course?

  1. Jun 26, 2012 #1
    First off, I'm sorry if this is in the wrong section, but I am looking for some guidance other than my friends who don't see the beauty of math and science, or education in general.

    I am going into my senior year at public highschool and have never taken a physics course, although standard, and honors level are both offered, as well as AP Physics (mostly B, however some students challenge C). I have excelled tremedously this year in my first year of calculus and fell in love with the concepts, and find myself thinking more about math than most other things. I am deeply interested in learning about the all important connection between the two subjects, especially before I go away to college.

    That being said, I am enrolled in AP Calculus BC in the upcoming year and am now wondering, should I just go for it and take AP Physics? I feel extremely confident in my math background, the only thing I am nervous about is that I won't be able to handle the concepts, because I am the type of person that must understand everything.

    Everyone who helps is appreciated very much:)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2012 #2
    My first physics class was AP Physics B (which I took concurrently with Calculus AB, so it seems like I was behind you). In retrospect, I'm certain I made the right choice. Although most of the other students in the class had already taken a "pre-AP" physics class, I managed to keep up just fine, and I learned a lot more efficiently than I would have done in a lower level class.

    Rather than rely only on anecdotes, you might want to have a look at some of the resources published by the College Board. The Physics "Course Description" includes an outline of the topics in each AP Physics course as well as recommendations on course selection.
  4. Jun 26, 2012 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    take the physics course. its mostly math applied to practical problems in classical physics and if you can handle calculus it should be very easy.
  5. Jun 26, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Go for it for sure. I took AP Physics C last year without having taken a regular physics class before hand and I didn't notice any kind of deficiency in my ability to do the problems (the book I'm assuming you're going to use is Halliday and Resnick, that is what we used anyways) that would have stemmed from not taking a normal physics class before hand. From the kids in my class who HAD taken a regular physics class they largely complained that it was a repeat of the regular physics curriculum concepts wise (for the most part; I think things like LRC circuits, parallel plate capacitors, maxwell's equations, and torsion pendulums are not covered in a typical regular physics class but nonetheless are taught from scratch in AP Physics C) but involved physical systems with more degrees of freedom that made the problems more difficult or more tedious. If you have already taken a year of regular calculus you will be fine math wise for sure. Almost nothing from the second semester of Calc BC will come up in a typical AP Physics C class (except maybe series expansion for dipole moments but your teacher will probably explain that in length anyways). Everything you learned in your regular calc class should suffice. Good luck mate.
  6. Jun 27, 2012 #5
    Thanks everybody, I think I am going to challenge the course this upcoming year and get a head start on my focus for college. :)
  7. Jul 13, 2012 #6
    Just wondering, I found out my school only offers Physics B, would that be worth my time? Or should I just wait until I get to college?
  8. Jul 13, 2012 #7
    If you've got nothing better to take, I'd say go for it.
  9. Jul 14, 2012 #8
    That is true, but my only reason I am now hesitant, is that Physics B is geared more towards those who are not going into fields directly related with science, and my goal is to one day be an engineer of some sort, which is rigorously involved with physics and mathematics.

    But I know that you're right, I'm basically arguing nothing with what I just said. I'm going to make the best of what I'm offered.
  10. Jul 14, 2012 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Don't you have a teacher/advisor at your school for you to direct these questions? I mean, of all the people who would know what you need to be able to do well in a particular class, I would think the instructor for that class will be at the top of that list! This person would have an idea of your background, and would know intimately well what will be covered in the lessons. He/she can immediately tell you if you are well-prepared, or if you're going to struggle.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook