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# AP Physics C: Mechanics

AP Physics C: Mechanics is an Advanced Placement science course that studies Newtonian mechanics. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems which is why most schools recommend that the student have completed or be concurrently enrolled in a calculus class. It is supposed to be equivalent to an introductory college course in mechanics for physics or engineering majors. This course is often combined with AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism to make a unified Physics C course that prepares for both exams, or it may be a separate course. In this scenario, Electricity and Magnetism is typically taught second, as it requires much of the knowledge gained in the Mechanics course. When only one Physics C course is offered, it is typically Mechanics, and this in combination with the fact that many schools do not complete their unified Physics C courses before the exam date is the probable explanation for more students taking the Mechanics exam than the Electricity and Magnetism exam.

## The exam

The exam is configured in two categories, a thirty-five (35) question multiple choice section and a three (3) question free response section. In order to test knowledge as well as skills, the multiple choice section is taken without a calculator. The free response section permits the use of a calculator. The test is weighted such that each section is worth fifty percent (50%) of the final score. It is the shortest AP exam currently administered, with total time at 90 minutes.

The topics covered by the exam are as follows:

Topic Percent
Kinematics 18%
Newton's laws of motion 20%
Work, energy, power 14%
Systems of particles, linear momentum 12%
Circular motion and rotation 18%
Oscillations and gravitation 18%

## Purpose

According to the College Board web site, "This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering.

In the 2007 administration, 26,314 students took the exam from 2,726 schools. The mean score was a 3.35.

The grade distribution for 2007 was:

Score Percent
5 26.1%
4 25.3%
3 20.0%
2 14.1%
1 14.4%

## Payment

Recently changed from 2006, College Board requires test-takers to pay separately for the Mechanics part and the Electricity and Magnetism part. Previously, test-takers paid only once and were given the choice of taking either one or two parts of the Physics C test.