High School Physics, Basic Course
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Algebra based physics tends to get offered as two tracks; either Basic Physics or non-calculus based AP® Physics. This page is about the basic course. Non-calculus based AP® Physics, previously designated as AP Physics B, is often referred to as “Honors Physics” and is a more rigorous option than the basic course, although it only requires algebra as a prerequisite. Recently, The College Board split the AP Physics B test into AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2. They are recommending the course be taught as a two year sequence, but it is up to the individual school as to whether to do so, or keep it as a one year course. Will your school also make it a two year course? That depends on the school, but some have indeed done so.
Will Basic Physics prepare you for the SAT Subject Test in Physics?
A qualified yes…provided your particular course covers a sufficient breadth of topics you will, if you are at a B+ or above during the year, have reason to expect a good result on your Physics SAT Subject Test. You should start prepping for it at least 2 months in advance of your test date, so no later than early April if your intent is to take the test in June. See our blog, So many Physics courses! Which one prepares you for the SAT Physics Subject Test?
Topics covered will include:
- Kinematic equations, projectile motion and vectors in two dimensions
- Newton’s Laws and their application to force body diagrams
- Momentum and impulse
- Work, energy and power
- Basic thermodynamics
- Waves and sound
- Electricity and magnetism, including circuits, induced currents, and magnetic flux
See our blog, How to effectively study for HS Chemistry and Physics
Subjects covered in Basic Physics will vary from year to year
Subjects covered in Basic Physics will vary from year to year, but they always include the above. Additional subjects that the AP® Physics course covers will include a more in depth look at thermodynamics and magnetism, and some nuclear physics.
Areas that cause problems:
All of it! Get help early, because this course (more than any other science course) will build sequentially as you go through the year. In chemistry and biology you switch topics every so often, and so if you are lost with electron configurations you can still understand the next week’s topic, which might be equilibrium. This is not so with physics! Physics requires that you understand the material from week to week, all year long. If you are lost with vectors in October, you are going to be lost in February, as well.
Can we help?
Of course we can! Physics is a subject that is best learned by doing problems. Interact with one of our teachers, who can give you a bunch of problems (very much like what you are doing in class), and patiently go through them with you step by step.
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