AP Physics B to be replaced with AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2

Jessica Lee

In response to the College Board’s decision to replace the current AP Physics B exam with separate AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 assessments, the Upper School will offer two AP Physics B courses starting from the 2014-2015 school year.

The College Board website states, “The National Research Council concluded that AP Physics B is a very broad course that ‘encourages cursory treatment of important topics in physics’ rather than cultivating a deeper understanding of key foundational principles.”

This decision was made by the College Board several years ago and was scheduled to be implemented in 2014.

“We are following the lead of the College Board and creating two classes to match the two new AP exams in physics,” upper school science teacher Karen Hutchison said.

The AP Physics 1 class will focus on mechanics, waves and sound, and rotational dynamics, while AP Physics 2 will center on fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and nuclear physics. Rotational dynamics and nuclear physics will both introduce new topics that the current AP Physics B course does not cover, Hutchison said. The 2015 AP Physics exams will also have a greater emphasis on experimental design and conceptual understanding.

AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, which are respectively the equivalents to the first and second semesters of college-level algebra-based physics, will offer more laboratory investigations for students to be more directly involved in making individual analysis and conjectures. The revision to the AP Physics B course was decided with recommendations from the National Research Council and National Science Foundation and the support of AP teachers and faculty members nationwide, the College Board website states.