AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Course

Expand your understanding of physics as you explore topics such as fluids; thermodynamics; electric force, field, and potential; electric circuits; magnetism and electromagnetic induction; geometric and physical optics; and quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. You’ll do hands-on and inquiry-based in-class activities and 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 test a hypothesis

  • Analyzing data and evaluating evidence

  • Working with scientific explanations and theories

  • Making connections

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A second-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics.

Recommended Prerequisites

You should have completed AP Physics 1 or a comparable introductory physics course and should have taken or be concurrently taking pre-calculus 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 learn about the characteristics of fluids and how a fluid’s internal structure and interactions define these characteristics.

Topics may include:

  • Fluid systems
  • Density
  • Pressure and forces
  • Fluids and free-body diagrams
  • Buoyancy
  • Conservation of energy in fluid flow
  • Conservation of mass flow rate in fluids

On The Exam

10%–12% of exam score

You’ll study heat, temperature, and thermal energy in contexts such as heat engines, heat pumps, and refrigerators.

Topics may include:

  • Thermodynamic systems
  • Pressure, thermal equilibrium, and the Ideal Gas Law
  • Thermodynamics and forces
  • Heat and energy transfer
  • Thermodynamics and collisions
  • Probability, thermal equilibrium, and entropy

On The Exam

12%–18% of exam score

You’ll begin your study of electromagnetism by getting familiar with fundamental concepts such as electric charge and electric forces.

Topics may include:

  • Electric systems and charge
  • Charge distribution: Friction, conduction, and induction
  • Electric permittivity
  • Electric forces and free-body diagrams
  • Gravitational and electromagnetic forces
  • Electric charges and fields
  • Conservation of electric energy

On The Exam

18%–22% of exam score

You’ll continue to examine the behavior of charged particles to learn about the components of a circuit, the path that an electric current travels on.

Topics may include:

  • Definition and conservation of electric charge
  • Resistivity and resistance
  • Resistance and capacitance
  • Kirchhoff’s loop rule
  • Kirchhoff’s junction rule and the conservation of electric charge

On The Exam

10%–14% of exam score

You’ll build on your knowledge of electrostatic forces and fields to explore the relationships between moving electric charges—electric currents—and the magnetic forces and fields they generate.

Topics may include:

  • Magnetic systems
  • Magnetic permeability and magnetic dipole moment
  • Vector and scalar fields
  • Monopole and dipole fields
  • Magnetic fields and forces
  • Forces review
  • Magnetic flux

On The Exam

10%–12% of exam score

You’ll be introduced to the different ways of thinking about and modeling electromagnetic waves, or light.

Topics may include:

  • Waves
  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Periodic waves
  • Refraction, reflection, and absorption
  • Images from lenses and mirrors
  • Interference and diffraction

On The Exam

12%–14% of exam score

You’ll be introduced to the concepts of modern physics and learn how these new models can resolve the conflicts and questions that Newtonian physics could not answer.

Topics may include:

  • Systems and fundamental forces
  • Radioactive decay
  • Energy in modern physics (energy in radioactive decay and E=mc2)
  • Mass–energy equivalence
  • Properties of waves and particles
  • Photoelectric effect
  • Wave function and probability

On The Exam

10%–12% of exam score

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AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 60
Majors 18

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