AP Physics C: Mechanics
There are two AP Physics C courses — Physics C: Mechanics and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, each corresponding to approximately a semester of college work. Mechanics is typically taught first, and some AP teachers may choose to teach this course only. If both courses are taught over the course of a year, approximately equal time should be given to each. Both courses should utilize guided inquiry and student-centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills and should use introductory differential and integral calculus throughout the course.
Physics C: Mechanics should provide instruction in each of the following six content areas: kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation.
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism should provide instruction in each of the following five content areas: electrostatics; conductors, capacitors and dielectrics; electric circuits; magnetic fields; and electromagnetism.
Most colleges and universities include in similar courses additional topics such as wave motion, kinetic theory and thermodynamics, optics, alternating current circuits, or special relativity. Although wave motion, optics and kinetic theory and thermodynamics are usually the most commonly included, there is little uniformity among such offerings, and these topics are not included in the Physics C Exams. The Development Committee recommends that supplementary material be added to Physics C when it is possible to do so. Many teachers have found that a good time to do this is late in the year, after the AP Exams have been given.
Each Physics C course should also include a hands-on laboratory component comparable to a semester-long introductory college-level physics laboratory. Students should spend a minimum of 20 percent of instructional time engaged in hands-on laboratory work. Each student should complete a lab notebook or portfolio of lab reports.
The school should ensure that each student has a calculus-based college-level textbook (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom. A link to lists of examples of acceptable textbooks can be found on the Physics C course home pages on the AP Central website.