Is AP Physics 2 hard? Deciding which AP subjects to enroll for, can be challenging. Students often struggle to choose the best subject of their choice.
In this blog, we cover statistical data and student views on if AP Physics 2 is a hard course and what factors help us reach that conclusion.
We hope that by the end of the blog, you would have an understanding of this AP Physics 2 course & take the important academic decision for yourself.
Is AP Physics 2 hard?
Based on a reddit survey, AP Physics 2 is considered as one of the hardest AP courses with a difficulty rating of 6.5 out of 10 by former students.
Out of the 28 large AP courses surveyed, AP Physics 2 is ranked as the sixth most challenging. And hence demands significant effort and commitment from students.
With 69.7% of students graduating with a 3 or above in 2022, the pass rate is average compared to other AP classes. With only 18,736 students in 2021 and 17,842 students in 2022 registered for AP Physics 2, it has a lower recommendation rate of (73%), compared to other AP classes.
5 Key Factors that determine the Difficulty of AP Physics 2
The level of difficulty of AP Physics 2 can be attributed to five key factors: conceptual understanding, mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, students’ background and knowledge, and quality of instruction.
1. The complexity of the subject matter
The complexity of the subject matter is one of the significant determinants of the exam’s difficulty. AP Physics 2 covers a broad range of concepts and requires students to have a deep understanding of each of them.
|Units covered in AP Physics 2||Percentage goal for the exam (MCQ)|
|Unit 1: Fluids||10-12 %|
|Unit 2: Thermodynamics||12-18 %|
|Unit 3: Electric Force, Field, and Potential||18-22 %|
|Unit 4: Electric Circuits||10-14 %|
|Unit 5: Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction||10-12 %|
|Unit 6: Geometric and Physical Optics||12-14 %|
|Unit 7: Quantum, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics||10-12 %|
2. Prior knowledge and skills
A strong foundation in mathematics is essential to succeed in AP Physics 2. Students must have a good grasp of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, as these mathematical skills are essential for solving problems in physics.
3. Quality of teaching
The quality of teaching can significantly affect the difficulty of AP Physics 2. Teachers who are well-trained, experienced, and have effective teaching methods can make the course more accessible to students. Students can opt for tutoring for AP Physics because of it’s high difficulty rating which makes it difficult for self study. Wiingy offers 1-on-1 private AP Physics 2 tutoring which will help you ace your exams.
4. Learning environment
The learning environment can also impact the difficulty of AP Physics 2. Students who have access to adequate resources, such as textbooks, lab equipment, and online resources, may find it easier to succeed in the course. Additionally, a supportive learning environment with access to tutoring, peer support, and other resources can help students overcome difficulties and succeed.
5. Student mindset and approach
A student’s mindset and approach can significantly impact the difficulty of AP Physics 2. A positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to seek help when needed can help students overcome challenges and succeed in the course.
AP Physics 2 exam format
|Section||No. of questions||Time allocated to each section||Exam weightage|
|Multiple-choice questions||50||1 hour 30 mins||50%|
|Free-response questions||4||1 hour 30 mins||50%|
Source: College Board
AP Physics 2 exam is divided into two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section.
The multiple-choice section consists of 50 questions and has a time limit of 1 hour and 30 minutes. The questions assess students’ understanding of physics concepts and their ability to solve problems using quantitative and qualitative reasoning.
The free-response section also has a time limit of 1 hour and 30 minutes and consists of four questions. These questions require students to apply their physics knowledge to analyze and solve problems. Students are also expected to show their work and provide clear explanations and justifications for their answers.
The exam evaluates students’ ability to apply physics concepts to real-world situations, analyze data, and solve complex problems using mathematical and analytical skills.
AP Physics 2 pass score & mean score trends
To pass the AP Physics 2 exam, a student must achieve a score of 3 out of 5, indicating their understanding and proficiency in college-level physics concepts.
Based on data from College Board for AP Physics 2 exam in 2021 and 2022, approximatelya 65.3% and 69.7% of students who took the exam received a passing score of 3 or higher. However, the pass rate can vary each year due to differences in exam difficulty.
Based on data from College Board for AP Physics 2 exam in 2021 and 2022, the mean score of AP Physics 2 for 2021 & 2022 was 3.06 & 3.14, respectively. You can refer the mean score of the past 10 years below for better clarity on scoring patterns in this examination:
Passing the AP Physics 2 exam can have significant benefits for students:
- It can help in earning them college credit.
- Demonstrate their proficiency in college-level coursework, which can enhance their college application and improve their chances of admission to competitive colleges and universities.
- Additionally, the knowledge gained from taking this exam can prepare students for advanced physics courses in college.
- Potentially lead to career opportunities in science and engineering fields.
Should You Take AP Physics 1 or AP Physics 2?
Some of the key factors to consider when choosing between AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 are:
|Factors to be considered||AP Physics 1||AP Physics 2|
|Course Content||Covers Kinematics, Dynamics, |
Circular motion and Gravitation,
Simple Harmonic Motion,
Torque, and Rotational Motion.
|Covers Fluids, Thermodynamics, Electric Force, |
Field and Potential, Electric Circuits,
Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction,
Geometric and Physical Optics,
Quantum, and Atomic and Nuclear Physics.
|Math Skills Required||Strong foundation in |
algebra and trigonometry.
|Strong foundation in algebra, |
trigonometry, and calculus
|Exam Format||Multiple choice questions |
and free-response questions.
|Multiple-choice questions and |
|Difficulty Level||Easier than AP Physics 2||More challenging as compared to AP Physics 1|
|College Major Preparation||Good preparation for science, engineering, and |
other technical majors
|Excellent preparation for science, |
engineering, and other technical majors,
particularly those that involve
electricity and magnetism,
optics, and modern physics
Take AP Physics 1 if you want to get a basic understanding of physics and have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry.
Take AP Physics 2 if you have completed AP Physics 1 or an equivalent course, and want to continue your study of physics, particularly in the areas of electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics.
If you enjoy math and problem-solving and are looking for a more challenging course, AP Physics 2 may be a better fit. If you are not as confident in your math skills or want a more conceptually straightforward course, AP Physics 1 may be a better choice.
Strategies for success in AP Physics 2
- “Don’t skip math!”
AP Physics 2 requires a strong foundation in mathematics, so make sure to review algebra, trigonometry, and calculus regularly to stay on top of the course material.
- “Think conceptually, not just mathematically”
AP Physics 2 is not just about solving equations, but also understanding the physical concepts behind them. Make sure to grasp the underlying principles and how they relate to real-world situations.
- “Practice, practice, practice”
AP Physics 2 is a challenging course, and practice is key to success. Try to solve as many problems as you can, from your textbook, online resources, or past exams.
- “Don’t be afraid to ask for help”
Physics can be tough, and it’s important to seek help when you need it. Whether it’s from your teacher, classmates, or online resources, don’t hesitate to ask questions and clarify your understanding.
- “Stay organized and manage your time wisely”
AP Physics 2 can be overwhelming, so staying organized and managing your time effectively can help you stay on top of the course material. Use a planner or a study schedule to keep track of your assignments and deadlines, and try to balance your time between physics and other subjects.
Resources for students studying AP Physics 2
Here are some resources for students studying AP Physics 2:
- Physics Classroom: Physics Classroom is a great resource for students studying AP Physics 2. They have a comprehensive course that covers all the topics in the exam. The course includes video lectures, practice problems, and quizzes.
- MIT OpenCourseWare: MIT OpenCourseWare offers a collection of online courses on physics that cover topics relevant to AP Physics 2. The courses include video lectures, problem sets, and exams.
- Wiingy: If you are still struggling with understanding the topics covered in AP Physics 2 and want to have a clear and strong understanding of the concepts, then opting for an online AP Physics 2 tutor can be very beneficial to your academics. Wiingy offers online tutoring services for AP Physics 2, including personalized one-on-one sessions with experienced tutors.
- Flipping Physics: Flipping Physics is a YouTube channel that provides video lectures on various topics in AP Physics 2. The channel also includes practice problems and solutions.
- AP Central: AP Central is the official websitefor the AP program. It provides a lot of resources for students studying AP Physics 2, including past exam questions, exam format, and scoring guidelines.
In conclusion, AP Physics 2 can be considered a challenging course based on the available data. The pass rates for the exam in 2021 and 2022 were around 65.3% and 69.7%, respectively, with a mean score of 3.06 and 3.14. Although the pass rate is average compared to other AP classes, the lower registration numbers and lower recommendation rate of 73% indicate that it may not be as widely taken or recommended as other AP courses.
Additionally, according to a Reddit survey, former students rated AP Physics 2 as one of the hardest AP courses, with a difficulty rating of 6.5 out of 10. Therefore, while the difficulty may vary for individuals, it is evident that AP Physics 2 poses a significant challenge for many students.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Is AP Physics 2 harder than C?
No, AP Physics C is more difficult than AP Physics 2, as it covers a more advanced and in-depth curriculum that requires a strong understanding of calculus-based physics concepts. It has a difficulty rating of 8.1 out of 10 compared to AP Physics 2 which is 6.5 out of 10, based on class alumnae survey. However, individual experiences may vary, and personal strengths and preferences can play a role in determining which course is more challenging.
Which AP Physics is the hardest?
Among the three AP Physics courses, AP Physics C is considered to be the most challenging with the highest difficulty rating of 8.1 out of 10 and pass rate of 26-30%. This is because it covers calculus-based physics concepts in greater depth and requires a strong understanding of calculus.
Is AP Physics 1 easier than 2?
It’s generally considered that AP Physics 1 is easier than AP Physics 2 because AP Physics 1 covers introductory physics concepts and principles, while AP Physics 2 covers more advanced topics such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and modern physics. However, individual experiences may vary, and personal strengths and preferences can play a role in determining which course is easier for each student.
What is the format of the AP Physics 2 exam?
The AP Physics 2 exam consists of two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. The multiple-choice section contains 50 questions and lasts 90 minutes, while the free-response section contains four questions and lasts 90 minutes.
What is the scoring system for the AP Physics 2 exam?
The AP Physics 2 exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. Generally, a score of 3 or higher is considered a passing score, and some colleges may offer college credit or placement for scores of 4 or 5.