Advanced Placement

# Is AP Physics 2 Hard? A Complete Guide [2024]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 19 Sep 2024

Content

**AP Physics 2**is considered one of the hardest AP classes by AP class alumnae.- The
**pass rate of the AP Physics 2 Exam for 2022 was 69.7%**. This is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP overall, which was 60.2%. **AP Physics 2 exam is divided into two sections**: multiple-choice (50 questions, 90 minutes) and free-response (4 questions, 90 minutes).- The
**AP Physics 2 course is organized into 7 topics**: Fluids, Thermodynamics, Electric Force, Field, and Potential, Electric Circuits, Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction, Geometric and Physical Optics, Quantum, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics

**Boost your AP scores before exam day! Book a free trial with Wiingy’s top ****AP Physics 2 tutors**** and ensure you don’t miss out on scoring high. Every point counts towards your dream college. Act now**!

**Is AP Physics 2 hard?**

Yes, **AP Physics 2 course** is considered one of the hardest AP courses.

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.

**What are the topics covered in the AP Physics 2 exam?**

The AP Physics 2 exam covers a wide range of topics related to Physics. Here are some of the main topics that are covered in the exam:

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 % |

**Exam Tip**: Each topic in AP Physics 2, from thermodynamics to magnetism and electromagnetic induction, poses unique challenges. Our expert-vetted tutors specialize in these areas, offering personalized support. Achieve a thorough understanding of every subject with our expert AP Physics 2 Tutoring.

**What determines the difficulty of AP Physics 2? 5 key factors**

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.

**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.

**What is the AP Physics 2 exam structure?**

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.

**How are the AP Physics 2 exams scored?**

**The ****scoring system for AP Exams**** is based on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score**.

The scores are determined by a combination of the student’s performance on the multiple-choice questions and the free-response questions.

The multiple-choice section accounts for 50% of the total score, while the free-response section accounts for the remaining 50%.

- A
**score of 5**indicates that the student is extremely well-prepared for college-level chemistry and has a thorough and firm understanding of the subject matter. - A
**score of 4**indicates that the student is well-qualified and prepared for college-level chemistry and has a good understanding of the subject matter. - A
**score of 3**indicates that the student is adequately prepared for college-level chemistry and has a basic understanding of the subject matter. - A
**score of 2**indicates that the student is not adequately prepared for college-level chemistry and has a limited understanding of the subject matter. - A
**score of 1**indicates that the student has little or no understanding of the subject matter and is not prepared for college-level chemistry.

**AP Physics 2 Score Distribution**:

The AP score distribution is a statistical representation of how students performed on each AP exam. It shows the percentage of students who earned each score (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) in a given year.

AP Physics 2 score distribution for 2022 is as below:

Exam Score | No. of students | Percentage of students |

5 | 2,909 | 16.3% |

4 | 3,222 | 18.1% |

3 | 6,301 | 35.3% |

2 | 4,293 | 24.1% |

1 | 1,117 | 06.3% |

**AP Physics 2 Credit Policy:**

Different colleges and universities have different policies regarding AP exam scores and credit. Some may award college credit for an AP Physics 2 score of 4 or 5, while others may require a higher score or may not award credit at all.

For details refer to our AP Physics 2 Credit Policy Guide.

**AP Physics 2 Exam Pass Rate and Mean Score Trends (2013-2022)**

According to the College Board’s AP exam data, **the AP exam pass rate [Students scoring 3 or more] for the AP Physics C: Mechanics exam **has been hovering between 55.6% and 69.7% over the past 8 years from 2015 to 2022.

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.

For year-on-year data, refer to the AP Physics C: Mechanics Pass Score Trends Graph below:

Note that the College Board does not officially classify 3 as a passing score.

Notably the average pass rate across all AP exams has been consistently lower than AP Physics 2 across these 10 years.

As an example for 2022, the AP average pass rate stands at 60.2% while that of AP Physics 2 is 69.7%.

The mean score for AP Physics 2 is consistently a little higher than the mean score for all subjects. This indicates that AP Physics 2 is among one of the difficult AP Courses.

Refer year on year AP Physics 2 Mean Score Trend Graph below:

**How to study for the AP Physics 2 exam?**

Preparing for the AP Physics 2 test requires dedication, discipline, and a structured approach. Here are some tips on how to study effectively for the exam:

**Review the course material:**Before diving into the exam preparation, make sure to review the course material thoroughly. Review the textbook chapters, lecture notes, and lab reports.**Practice problems:**Practice problems are key to mastering the concepts and skills needed for the exam. Use the review materials provided by your teacher or textbook, or seek out additional resources online. View our AP Physics 2 practice test resource.**Create flashcards:**Flashcards can be a great way to memorize key concepts, equations, and terminology. Make a set of flashcards with important information and review them frequently.**Join study groups:**Study groups can provide an opportunity to work through challenging material with peers. Meet with other students to review material, discuss concepts, and work on practice problems together.**Take practice exams:**Practice exams can help you get familiar with the format and structure of the actual AP Physics 2 test. Use past AP Physics 2 Exams or practice tests from online resources.**Seek out additional resources:**There are many online resources available to help students prepare for the AP Physics 2 Exam. Consider using online review materials, video tutorials, and online study groups. Some popular AP Physics 2 exam prep resources include- The College Board’s AP Physics 2 course and exam description
- Crash Course’s AP Physics 2 videos on YouTube
- Barron’s AP Physics 2 book

**Take 1-1 private tuitions**: The Wiingy AP Physics 2 tutoring program adheres completely to the AP Physics 2 course outline. The platform has expert AP Physics 2 tutors who can help you with concepts, coursework homework help, and test-prep to help you get a top grade on the exam

**Power Tip**: Refer to the Wiingy AP Physics 2 Exam Guide for detailed information on the AP Physics 2 Exam and strategies to ace the test.

**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, Energy, Momentum, 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 free-response questions. |

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.

**In summary**

**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.

**Boost your AP scores before exam day! Book a free trial with Wiingy’s top ****AP Physics 2 tutors**** and ensure you don’t miss out on scoring high. Every point counts towards your dream college. Act now**!

**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 a 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.

**References**

- https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/ap-physics-2/
- https://examstudyexpert.com/is-ap-physics-1-2-hard-easy/
- https://www.albert.io/blog/are-ap-physics-1-2-hard
- https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-physics-2/exam
- reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/2021-ap-student-score-distributions_1.pdf
- apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-score-distributions-by-subject-2022.pdf

Written by by

Apoorvaa AgarwalReviewed by by

Priyanshi Agrawal