AP Physics C: Mechanics

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Course

Explore concepts such as kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion, work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; rotation; oscillations; and gravitation. You’ll do hands-on laboratory work and in-class activities to investigate phenomena and use calculus to solve problems. Note: Save your lab notebooks and reports; colleges may ask to see them before granting you credit.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Interpreting and describing visual representations of physical situations

  • Coming up with a hypothesis and designing an experiment to test it

  • Creating graphs and diagrams to represent data and physical situations

  • Analyzing data shown in a graph

  • Determining the relationship between physical qualities

  • Solving physics problems using mathematical relationships

  • Developing and supporting a scientific claim with evidence

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A semester-long, introductory calculus-based college course in physics

Recommended Prerequisites

You should have taken calculus or be taking calculus at the same time as this 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 begin your study of motion and the quantities associated with the motion of an object: position, velocity, acceleration, and time.

Topics may include:

  • Kinematics in one dimension
  • Kinematics in two dimensions

On The Exam

14%–20% of multiple-choice score

You’ll investigate Newton’s laws of motion, which describe the relationship among moving objects and the forces acting on them.

Topics may include:

  • Newton’s laws of motion: first and second law
  • Circular motion
  • Newton’s laws of motion: third law

On The Exam

17%–23% of multiple-choice score

You’ll learn to define and calculate work, energy, and power and become familiar with the principle of conservation as a foundational model of physics.

Topics may include:

  • Work–energy theorem
  • Forces and potential energy
  • Conservation of energy
  • Power

On The Exam

14%–17% of multiple-choice score

You’ll be introduced to the concepts of center of mass, impulse and momentum, and the conservation of linear momentum.

Topics may include:

  • Center of mass
  • Impulse and momentum
  • Conservation of linear momentum, collisions

On The Exam

14%–17% of multiple-choice score

You’ll gain an in-depth comprehension of rotational motion by investigating torque and rotational statics, kinematics, and dynamics.

Topics may include:

  • Torque and rotational statics
  • Rotational kinematics
  • Rotational dynamics and energy
  • Angular momentum and its conservation

On The Exam

14%–20% of multiple-choice score

You’ll explore the forces that cause objects to repeat their motions with a regular pattern.

Topics may include:

  • Simple harmonic motion, springs, and pendulums

On The Exam

6%–14% of multiple-choice score

You’ll investigate gravitational forces and the relationships shared between planets, satellites, and their orbits.

Topics may include:

  • Gravitational forces
  • Orbits of planets and satellites

On The Exam

6%–14% of multiple-choice score

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See Where AP Can Take You

AP Physics C: Mechanics can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 66
Majors 18

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