AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Course

Learn about the foundational principles of physics as you explore Newtonian mechanics; work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. You’ll do hands-on laboratory work to investigate phenomena. Note: Save your lab notebooks and reports; colleges may ask to see them before granting you credit.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Interpreting and describing representations and models

  • Using mathematics to solve science problems

  • Formulating a scientific question or hypothesis

  • Designing an experiment to answer a scientific question or to test a hypothesis

  • Analyzing data and evaluating evidence

  • Working with scientific explanations and theories

  • Making connections

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A first-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics

Recommended Prerequisites

You should have completed a geometry course and be concurrently taking Algebra II or an equivalent course.

Exam Dates

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

You’ll be introduced to the study of motion.

Topics may include:

  • Position, velocity, and acceleration
  • Representations of motion

On The Exam

10%–16% of exam score

You’ll revisit the concepts you worked with in Unit 1 to explore force, which is the interaction of an object with another object.

Topics may include:

  • Systems
  • The gravitational field
  • Contact forces
  • Newton’s First Law
  • Newton’s Third Law and free-body diagrams
  • Newton’s Second Law
  • Applications of Newton’s Second Law

On The Exam

12%–18% of exam score

You’ll build on your understanding of motion and force as you study more complex models of motion, such as the circular path of a satellite orbiting a planet.

Topics may include:

  • Vector fields
  • Fundamental forces
  • Gravitational and electric forces
  • Gravitational field/acceleration due to gravity on different planets
  • Inertial vs. gravitational mass
  • Centripetal acceleration vs. centripetal force
  • Free-body diagrams for objects in uniform circular motion

On The Exam

4%–6% of exam score

You’ll learn the definitions of and relationships between energy, work, and power.

Topics may include:

  • Open and closed systems: Energy
  • Work and mechanical energy
  • Conservation of energy, the work–energy principle, and power

On The Exam

16%–24% of exam score

You’ll explore the relationship between force, time, and momentum and learn to use the law of conservation of momentum to analyze physical situations.

Topics may include:

  • Momentum and impulse
  • Representations of changes in momentum
  • Open and closed systems: momentum
  • Conservation of linear momentum

On The Exam

10%–16% of exam score

You’ll use the tools, techniques, and models you’ve learned in previous units to analyze a new type of motion: simple harmonic motion.

Topics may include:

  • Period of simple harmonic oscillators
  • Energy of a simple harmonic oscillator

On The Exam

2%–4% of exam score

You’ll explore the motion of an object rotating around an axis and you’ll study torque, the measure of a force that can cause rotational motion.

Topics may include:

  • Rotational kinematics
  • Torque and angular acceleration
  • Angular momentum and torque
  • Conservation of angular momentum

On The Exam

10%–16% of exam score

You’ll begin your exploration of electricity by learning about the electric force and the properties and interactions of electric charges.

Topics may include:

  • Conservation of charge
  • Electric charge
  • Electric force

On The Exam

4%–6% of exam score

You’ll continue your study of electricity by examining electric circuits and the interactions between current, resistance, and voltage.

Topics may include:

  • Definition of a circuit
  • Resistivity
  • Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s loop rule (resistors in series and parallel)
  • Kirchhoff’s junction rule, Ohm’s law (resistors in series and parallel)

On The Exam

6%–8% of exam score

You’ll get introduced to the properties and behavior of waves that travel through a medium such as air or water.

Topics may include:

  • Properties of waves
  • Periodic waves
  • Interference and superposition (waves in tubes and on strings)

On The Exam

12%–16% of exam score

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Majors 18

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