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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Physics 1 Exam[Updated for AP 2024]  

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 01 Jul 2024


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  • The AP Physics 1 course is organized into 7 topics: Introduction to Physics, Kinematics, Dynamics, Work and Energy, Momentum and Collisions, Rotational Motion, Oscillations, and Waves
  • The AP Physics 1 exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (50 questions, 1 hour 30 minutes) and free-response (5 questions, 90 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP Physics 1 exam in 2022 was 3.02 out of 5. This is higher than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022, which was 2.92.
  • The pass rate of the AP Physics 1 Exam for 2022 was 43.3%. This is lower than the pass rate for AP overall.
  • With AP Physics 1, some majors that you could choose from include engineering, physics, and mathematics. Some career pathways you could pursue include engineer, physicist, and mathematician.

If you’re a high school student getting ready for the AP Physics 1 exam and feeling daunted by the exam’s scope and format, this blog is for you.

According to surveyed data of class alumnae, the pass rate for the AP Physics 1 exam was 43.3% in 2022 which is lower than the average AP exam pass rate of 60%. The difficulty rating for the AP Physics 1 exam was 7.7 out of 10.

This blog will provide a comprehensive guide on how to prepare and excel on the exam. We’ll cover all the necessary exam details, including timing and structure, and teach you the key concepts and formulas you’ll need to master.

Get started with your AP Physics 1 Exam prep and ace it with our resources!

What is on the AP Physics 1 Exam?

The AP Physics 1 exam is a standardized test administered by the College Board to high school students who have completed a one-year introductory course in algebra-based physics.

The exam covers topics such as kinematics, dynamics, energy, momentum, simple harmonic motion, and torque and rotational motion, and consists of multiple-choice and free-response questions that assess students’ knowledge, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.

The AP Physics 1 exam is important for several reasons.

First, it allows students to earn college credit and/or advanced placement in physics courses, which can save them time and money in college.

Second, it provides a measure of students’ mastery of fundamental physics concepts and skills, which are essential for success in many STEM fields.

Finally, it is a recognized credential that can enhance students’ college applications and career prospects.

AP Physics 1 Exam Format

The AP Physics 1 exam consists of two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section.

SectionType of QuestionNo. of QuestionTime Limit
Multiple-choice questionsSingle-select (45 questions) and multiple-select (5 questions)5090 mins
Experimental design (1 question)
Qualitative/quantitative translation (1 question)
Short answers (3 questions)
590 mins
AP Physics 1 exam format
AP Physics 1 Exam Guide
AP Physics 1 Exam Guide

The multiple-choice section consists of 50 questions and lasts 90 minutes. The questions are divided into two types: discrete questions and question sets. The free-response section consists of five questions and lasts 90 minutes.

How long is the AP Physics 1 exam?

The AP Physics 1 exam is 3 hours long.

Section 1 of the AP Physics 1 exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes long. This section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and holds a weightage of 50% in the score distribution.

Section 2 of the AP Physics 1 exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes long. This section consists of 5 free-response questions and holds a weightage of 50% in the score distribution.

Topics for the AP Physics 1 Review

Five “big ideas” of physics, which include fundamental scientific concepts, theories, and procedures, serve as the basis for AP Physics 1. The AP Physics 1 test covers the following five big ideas:

  • Big Idea 1: Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structures.
  • Big Idea 2: Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.
  • Big Idea 3: The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces.
  • Big Idea 4: Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems.
  • Big Idea 5: Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws.
Units coveredExam weightage (Multiple-choice section)
Unit 1: Kinematics12-18%
Unit 2: Dynamics16-20%
Unit 3: Circular motion and Gravitation6-8%
Unit 4: Energy20-28%
Unit 5: Momentum12-18%
Unit 6: Simple Harmonic Motion4-6%
Unit 7: Torque and Rotational Motion12-18%
Topics covered in AP Physics 1

Source: College Board

NOTE: According to the College Board, the AP Physics 1 exam will only cover the content from Units 1 through 7. Because the AP Physics 2 exam already incorporates the topics from earlier Units 8, 9, and 10, the same topics will not be included in the AP Physics 1 exam. This modification was initially introduced for the 2021 exam cycle and will remain as permanent.

When is the AP Physics 1 exam date and time in 2024?

The AP Physics 1 exam for the year 2024 will be held on Thursday, May 17 at 8:00 AM local time.

The AP Physics 1 exam is administered at schools or testing centers designated by the College Board.

To register for the AP Physics 1 exam, students must enroll in the corresponding AP course at their high school and then register for the exam through their AP coordinator.

The registration deadline is typically in the spring, but students should check with their AP coordinators for the specific deadline at their school.

There is a fee associated with taking the exam, but fee reductions or waivers may be available for students with financial needs.

Is the AP Physics 1 exam hard?

Is the AP Physics 1 exam hard? According to a survey, the AP Physics 1 course is considered very hard by former students, with a difficulty rating of 7.2 out of 10.

Despite this, it remains a popular course with over 137,000 entries in 2021 and 144,000 entries in 2022.

The course is challenging due to its focus on college-level physics concepts and the need for a strong understanding of algebra, which not all high school students possess.

Additionally, the exam consists of both multiple-choice and free-response questions, which require different problem-solving skills.

Despite the difficulty, 80% of students who have taken the course would recommend it to others.

Success in the course requires a significant amount of hard work and dedication, but it can be highly rewarding for those who are willing to put in the effort.

How to study for the AP Physics exam?

Studying for the AP Physics 1 exam requires a combination of knowledge, practice, and time management. Here are some study tips to help prepare for the exam:

  1. Build a strong foundation: Review fundamental concepts in physics, algebra, and trigonometry. Make sure you understand the basic concepts before moving on to more advanced topics.
  2. Get a sense of how the real test will be conducted: You should take an online diagnostic test to obtain a sense of the pace, topics covered, exam structure, and other details in real time. Pace yourself to match the setup on exam day, and note down particularly challenging concepts.
  3. Practice problem-solving: Practice solving problems regularly, and learn to apply the concepts you have learned to real-world situations. Use textbook problems, online resources, or exam review books to practice.
  4. Brush up on challenging physics topics: Go over your textbook or digital Physics pages to master the topics that you may have previously missed. Remember to focus on the difficult areas, and don’t be hesitant in reaching out to professors or friends if you have doubts. 
  5. Time management: Set a schedule for studying and reviewing, and stick to it. Plan your study sessions around your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you struggle with a certain topic, set aside more time to review and practice it.
  6. Practice exams: Take practice exams under timed conditions to get a sense of what the actual exam will be like. Use the College Board’s official practice exams, as well as other resources such as review books and online practice exams.
  7. Take help from 1-on-1 online AP Physics 1 Tutor: Students can receive one-on-one private tutoring that aligns perfectly with the course curriculum. The tutors also guide homework, test preparation, and coursework.
  8. Attend review sessions: Attend review sessions offered by your teacher, school, or a private tutor. Review sessions can help you clarify any doubts or misconceptions you may have and provide additional practice.

What to study to ace the AP Physics 1 exam?

To ace the AP Physics 1 exam, you need to have a solid understanding of the key concepts and formulas that are covered in the course. Some of the key topics you should focus on include:

  1. Kinematics: Motion in one and two dimensions, velocity, acceleration, and displacement.
  2. Forces: Newton’s laws of motion, friction, circular motion, and centripetal force.
  3. Energy: Work, kinetic and potential energy, conservation of energy, and power.
  4. Momentum: Impulse, conservation of momentum, and collisions.

To master these concepts, you should review your class notes and textbook, and work through practice problems and sample questions. The more you practice the problems, the better you will be prepared for the exam.

In addition to reviewing the content, it’s important to develop a strategy for tackling the free-response section of the exam. Here are some tips:

  • Take on the “easiest” question after reading through all 5 FRQs.

Make sure you understand what the question is asking before you start answering it. Read the entire question and underline key phrases or concepts. Utilize the first question to boost your self-assurance and get you through a challenging portion.

  • Explain your responses in detail to support them

The free-response section of the exam requires you to show your work and explain your reasoning. Make sure you write out all the steps you take to solve the problem and explain your thought process.

  • Label your diagrams properly

Draw clear, labeled diagrams to help you visualize the problem and communicate your solution. 

  • Check your work twice before submitting

Before you submit your answers, double-check your calculations and make sure you’ve answered the question correctly.

  • Remember to pace yourself during the exam

The AP Physics 1 exam is three hours long and consists of multiple-choice and free-response sections. You have about 90 seconds per multiple-choice question and about 12 minutes per free-response question. Use your time wisely and don’t spend too much time on any one question.

How can Wiingy help with AP Physics 1 exam prep?

In 2022, only 7.9% of the 144,526 students who took the AP Physics 1   exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP AP Physics 1   tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP AP Physics 1 Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test


In conclusion, the AP Physics 1 exam covers essential topics such as kinematics, dynamics, energy, momentum, simple harmonic motion, and torque and rotational motion.

The AP Physics 1 exam holds significant importance for several reasons. In 2020, the pass rate for the exam was 61.4%, which decreased to 55.7% in 2022. Similarly, the mean score for AP Calculus AB was 3.07 in 2020 and 2.91 in 2022, indicating the challenges faced by students.

Despite AP Physics 1’s difficulty, with a difficulty rating of 5.5 out of 10, the exam remains popular, with over 137,000 entries in 2021 and 144,000 entries in 2022.

The AP Physics 1 exam holds significant importance as it offers the opportunity to earn college credit or advanced placement, showcases mastery of fundamental physics concepts, and enhances college applications and career prospects.

Best of luck on your journey toward acing the AP Physics 1 exam!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How many questions are on the AP Physics 1 exam?

The AP Physics 1 exam consists of a total of 55 questions; 50 multiple-choice questions and 5 free-response questions.

What is the AP Physics 1 exam?

The AP Physics 1 exam is administered by the College Board every year in the month of May. Passing this exam marks the completion of the AP Physics 1 course. The test includes topics such as kinematics, dynamics, energy, and momentum.

How much is the cost of taking the AP Physics 1 exam?

As of 2023, the cost of taking the AP Physics 1 test in the United States is $95 per exam. Nevertheless, the price may differ for students from other countries and for those who qualify for fee exemptions or discounts.

What makes the AP Physics 1 exam so hard?

70% of the AP Physics 1 is conceptual questions and 25% is problem-solving. The memorization of such a broad range of topics, complex concepts, and the need to apply knowledge to solve problems, is what makes the AP Physics 1 exam so hard.

How long should I study for the AP Physics exam?

The amount of time you should study for the AP Physics exam varies depending on your prior knowledge and understanding of the subject. However, it’s recommended that you spend at least 3-4 months studying for the exam, dedicating 1-2 hours of study per day, and increasing the time as the exam approaches.


  • https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-physics-1/exam
  • https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/ap-physics-1-exam
  • https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/about-ap-scores/score-distributions
  • https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/exam-administration-ordering-

Written by by

Apoorvaa Agarwal

Reviewed by by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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