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What is the best textbook to study off for the AP Physics C exam?

  1. Sep 22, 2013 #1
    I am a junior in high school who hasn't been exposed to any Physics class. I plan to take the exam the next school year since the exam is said to be very difficult. I really want to get a 5! Like I said, I will be self-studying for this exam as much as I need too, but I first need to read over some textbooks that discuss both classical mechanics (exam 1 of the AP Physics C exam) and electricity and magnetism (exam 2 of the AP Physics C exam). By the way, I am doing this for fun, and to hopefully receive college credit for later on when I go to college. My school does not offer AP Physics courses. They only offer Physics honors which seems really easy since one only needs Algebra and a bit of trigonometry to pass the course. Nevertheless, please help me in this situation; I would truly appreciate it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2013 #2
    Before you even begin make sure you have a firm grasp on calculus. Classical mechanics is fairly striaghtforward at the high school level, but E&M has concepts from vector calculus. Be sure you know at least single variable calculus and vectors before you start.

    The textbook I used for my first year physics courses is:


    It is significantly cheaper to buy a used paperback version. It goes over all of Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism along with other topics if you're interested. The problems are good, with a fair range of difficulty, the examples however can be really interesting problems, and are great practice for testing your fundamentals. Good luck in your studying.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Oct 12, 2013 #3
    Most of those first year college/ AP phys C books like Halliday Resnick (mentioned above), Serway etc are similar to each other and not very good, but they do the job. I suggest getting a used copy that is around 5 - 10 years old; they are nearly the same as the latest but are much cheaper. Read it, work the examples, do the odd problems.

    If you are only concerned with the exam (as opposed to learning physics), Barrons or Princeton review will do the trick. (though a real textbook can come in handy)

    If you have some extra time and want to truly understand the physics, I highly recommend "Electricity and Magnetism" 3rd ed by Purcell and Morin for E&M, and Kleppner for mechanics. Do a search on them, you'll see what I mean
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