Advanced Placement

# Is AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Hard? A Complete Guide [2024]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 27 May 2024

Content

**AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism**is considered one of the hardest AP classes.- Topics include electric fields, circuits, magnetic fields, and electromagnetic induction.
**Average pass rate is around 69% with a difficulty rating of 8.1**by class alumane.- AP Physics C E&M Exam consists of multiple-choice and free-response questions.

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

**Is AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism hard?**

**Yes, the AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism course has consistently been ranked as one of the hardest AP classes**.

Former students have consistently rated AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism as the **hardest AP course**, with an **overall difficulty rating of 8.1 out of 10 based on a survey**.

Despite being a relatively small class, with just over **20,000 entries in recent years**, the vast majority of students who take the course **(96%) would recommend it to others.**

Year | No. of students enrolled |

2021 | 20,471 |

2022 | 19.978 |

**No.of test takers**

This is a testament to the rigor of the course, which demands significant effort, hard work, and a strong foundation in physics and calculus. However, for those who rise to the challenge, the course can be highly rewarding and provide a solid foundation for further study in physics and related fields.

**What are the topics covered in the ****AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism** exam?

**AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism**exam?

The AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam covers a wide range of topics related to Chemistry. Here are some of the main topics that are covered in the exam:

Units Covered | Percentage weightage for the exam (MCQ) |

Unit 1: Electrostatics | 26-34% |

Unit 2: Conductors,Capacitors, and dielectrics | 14-17% |

Unit 3: Electric Circuits | 17-23% |

Unit 4: Magnetic Fields | 17-23% |

Unit 5: Magnetism | 14-20% |

**Exam Tip**: Each topic in AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, from electrostatics to electric circuits 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 C: Electricity and Magnetism Tutoring.

**What determines the difficulty of AP Chemistry? 3 key factors**

To evaluate the level of difficulty of AP Physics C E&M, it’s crucial to consider several significant factors.

**1. Heavy coursework**

The course demands a heavy workload, with students expected to master challenging concepts and solve complex problems in a relatively short period of time. The course focuses on advanced physics concepts, with varying weightage in the exam.

The covered concepts are more intricate compared to lower-level physics courses and necessitate a more profound comprehension of mathematical and physical principles.

**2. Advanced Math skills required**

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism relies heavily on advanced mathematical concepts such as calculus, which can be challenging even for mathematically inclined students. Students can enroll for a free trial lesson with our expert online AP Physics C E&M tutors and prepare for the AP exams with personalized lessons.

Without a solid foundation in mathematical principles, it can be difficult to understand the complex relationships between electric and magnetic fields and to solve complex equations.

**3. Time intensive**

To excel in **AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism**, students must have a deep understanding of complex physics concepts and their underlying principles. This requires a significant investment of time and effort, as well as the ability to think critically and analytically.

Students may also need to complete multiple assignments, lab reports, and projects, adding to the already significant workload. As a result, the course requires a great deal of time, effort, and commitment to succeed.

**AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam format?**

The **AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam** consists of two sections:

Section | No. of Questions | Time allocated to each section | Exam Weightage |

Multiple-choice questions | 35 | 45 mins | 50% |

Free-response questions | 3 | 45 mins | 50% |

**Multiple-Choice Section:**The first section consists of**35 multiple-choice questions**that assess students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts of electricity and magnetism. Students have**45 minutes**to complete this section**.****Free-Response Section:**The second section is a free-response section that consists of**three problems**that require students to apply their knowledge of electricity and magnetism to solve problems and analyze data. Students have**45 minutes**to complete this section.

Overall, the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam assesses students’ ability to demonstrate mastery of the fundamental principles of electricity and magnetism, including electric fields, circuits, magnetic fields, and electromagnetism.

**How are the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 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 C: Electricity and Magnetism 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 C: Electricity and Magnetism score distribution for 2022 is as below:

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

5 | 6,301 | 31.5% |

4 | 4,717 | 23.6% |

3 | 2,855 | 14.3% |

2 | 3,608 | 18.1% |

1 | 2,497 | 12.5% |

**AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Credit Policy:**

Different colleges and universities have different policies regarding AP exam scores and credit. Some may award college credit for an AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 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 C: Electricity and Magnetism Credit Policy Guide.

**AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam pass rate and mean score trends (2013-2022)**

The AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism exam requires a passing score of 3 out of 5, indicating a sufficient level of knowledge and proficiency in college-level physics concepts.

According to College Board data of **2022, the pass rate [Students scoring 3 or more] was 69.4%.**

For year-on-year data, refer to the AP Physics C: E&M 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 C: Electricity and Magnetism across these 10 years.

As an example for 2022, the AP average pass rate stands at 60.2% while that of AP Physics C: E&M is 69.4%.

Another way to evaluate the difficulty of an AP exam is to look at the mean scores of the subject relative to overall mean scores for all AP exams.

The mean score for AP Physics C: E&M is consistently higher than the mean score for all subjects. This indicates that AP Physics C:E&M is among the difficult APs due to the rigorous prerequisites but the students taking the exam are well-equipped to handle it.

Refer year on year AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Mean Score Trend Graph below:

**How to study for the AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism?**

**Practice problems:**To master AP Physics C: E&M, you need to expose your brain to a high voltage of practice problems. The more you practice, the more you’ll become comfortable with complex concepts and problem-solving techniques. Try our free practice tests for AP Physics C E&M to improve your learning experience.**Magnetize your understanding:**To succeed in AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, you need a strong understanding of the underlying principles. Make sure to review and clarify any confusing concepts and equations, and create a comprehensive study plan to ensure you stay on track.**Charge up your math skills:**AP Physics C: E&M requires advanced math skills, so make sure you’re comfortable with calculus, vector calculus, and differential equations. Practice applying these skills to physics problems to improve your speed and accuracy.**Collaborate to accelerate:**Studying with others can help you gain new perspectives and insights on challenging topics. Join a study group or work with a tutor to tackle difficult problems and reinforce your understanding.**Stay energized and motivated:**AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism is a demanding course, so it’s important to take care of yourself and stay motivated. Prioritize self-care, set achievable goals, and reward yourself for your progress. Remember that with hard work and dedication, you can succeed in this challenging course.

**Should you take AP Physics C Mechanics or Electricity and Magnetism?**

Some of the key factors to consider when choosing between AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism:

Factors to consider | AP Physics C: Mechanics | AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism |

Course content | Mechanics-based topics, includingkinematics, forces, and energy. | Topics related to electricity and magnetism,including electric fields, circuits, and magnetic fields. |

Math skills required | Calculus-based mathematics | Advanced calculus-based mathematics |

Exam Format | -35 multiple-choice questions· -3 free-response questions | -35 multiple-choice questions -3 free-response questions |

Difficulty Level | Considered to be slightly less difficult than E&M | Considered to be more difficult than Mechanics |

College Major Preparation | Strong preparation for majors inengineering, physics, and related fields. | Strong preparation for majors in physics,electrical engineering, and related fields. |

It’s essential to consider your academic strengths and interests when choosing between these two courses, as well as your future college major and career goals. Both courses require strong math and problem-solving skills, but AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism involves more complex and abstract concepts related to electricity and magnetism.

**In summary**

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism has consistently been regarded as the most challenging AP course by former students, earning an overall **difficulty rating of 8.1 out of 10**. Despite its relatively **small class size, with just over 20,000** entries in recent years, the majority of students (96%) who undertake the course would recommend it to others.

Based on College Board data from 2021 and 2022, the **pass rates for the exam were approximately 69.5% and 69.4%** respectively, while the **mean scores for those years were 3.45 and 3.44**. It’s worth noting that pass rates can vary annually, and the exam’s difficulty level can impact the percentage of students who achieve a passing grade.

**Boost your AP scores before exam day! Book a free trial with Wiingy’s top ****AP Physics C: E&M 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 Physics C the hardest AP class?**

AP Physics C is generally considered one of the hardest AP classes due to its rigorous curriculum and the high level of mathematical and conceptual understanding required. It is often recommended only for students who have taken previous physics courses and who are comfortable with advanced calculus. However, the level of difficulty can vary from student to student depending on their prior knowledge, study habits, and dedication to the course.

**How long is AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism**

The duration of the AP Physics C: E&M exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes, and it contains two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. The test is divided into two parts, and the multiple-choice section is 45 minutes long and contains 35 questions. The free-response section is also 45 minutes long and has three questions that require detailed and comprehensive answers. The exam is typically given in May and graded on a 1 to 5 scale, where a score of 3 or higher is considered passing.

**What is AP Physics C: E&M equivalent to?**

AP Physics C: E&M is equivalent to a college-level, second-semester calculus-based physics course in electricity and magnetism. The course covers advanced physics concepts in electricity and magnetism, including electrostatics, conductors, capacitors, dielectrics, electric circuits, magnetic fields, and electromagnetic induction. It requires a strong foundation in mathematics, including calculus and differential equations, and is designed for students who are planning to pursue careers in science, engineering, or other related fields.

**What is AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism’s hardest unit?**

The level of difficulty for units in AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism may vary depending on the student’s strengths and weaknesses. However, many students and teachers often consider the unit on Electromagnetism as the most challenging. This unit covers concepts such as electric fields, magnetic fields, Gauss’s law, Faraday’s law, and Lenz’s law, which can require a deep understanding of mathematical and physical principles.

**Can I take AP Physics C without calculus?**

No, it is strongly recommended that students have taken or are concurrently enrolled in calculus while taking AP Physics C. Calculus is an essential tool for understanding the concepts and equations used in AP Physics C, particularly in Electricity and Magnetism. Without a strong understanding of calculus, students may struggle to keep up with the material and may find the course much more challenging than it needs to be.

**References**

- https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/ap-physics-c-electricity-magnetism/
- https://examstudyexpert.com/is-ap-physics-c-hard-easy/
- https://www.albert.io/blog/is-ap-physics-c-hard/
- https://blog.prepscholar.com/ap-physics-c

Written by

Apoorvaa AgarwalReviewed by

Priyanshi Agrawal