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Why Doing Well on the AP Physics 1 Exam is a Smart Investment

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Jason Kuma

Writer | Coach | Builder | Fremont, CA

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AP courses offer students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit if they score well on the corresponding AP exam.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), AP courses are a smart way to accelerate that journey. 

One of the and hardest AP courses is AP Physics. In this article, we’ll break down why doing well on the AP Physics exam is a smart investment for your future.

Saving on Tuition

Taking AP Physics 1 and doing well on the exam can save you a lot on college tuition. According to a College Board report:

“The average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year public university was $10,560 (per year) for in-state students and $27,020 for out-of-state students (2020-2021 academic year).”

Scoring well on the AP Physics 1 exam can be a game-changer. It can earn you college credits, meaning you can skip the equivalent course in college. This not only helps you graduate earlier but also saves a significant amount of money. Imagine cutting out half a year or even an entire year of college fees!

Real Savings: My Students’ Success Story

In the last five years, I’ve guided over 200 students to score a 5 on their AP Physics 1 exams. This achievement translates to an impressive total of ~ $700,000 in saved college tuition.

Nerd-notes hopes and aims to quadruple this total amount saved in just the next year.

Boost College Prospects

Scoring well on the AP Physics 1 exam can also boost your college prospects. College admissions officers look favorably upon students who have taken and done well in AP courses. In fact, some colleges require applicants to have taken a certain number of AP courses to be considered for admission. Additionally, scoring well on the AP Physics 1 exam can demonstrate to college admissions officers that you have a strong foundation in physics and are prepared for college-level coursework in STEM fields.

Real-World Impact

Beyond the financial and college admissions benefits, doing well on the AP Physics 1 exam can also have real-world impacts. Physics is a fundamental science that helps us understand the world around us, from the motion of objects to the behavior of light.

Physics has also led to countless technological innovations, from smartphones to medical imaging devices. By studying physics and doing well on the AP Physics 1 exam, you’ll be laying the foundation for a career in STEM and contributing to the advancement of science and technology.

Final thoughts

Doing well on the AP Physics 1 exam is a smart investment for your future. It can save you thousands of dollars on college tuition, boost your college prospects, and lay the foundation for a career in STEM. Beyond that, studying physics and doing well on the AP Physics 1 exam can have real-world impacts and contribute to the advancement of science and technology. So if you’re considering taking AP Physics 1, know that it’s not just a challenging course – it’s also a smart investment in your future.

Picture of Jason Kuma
Jason Kuma

Writer | Coach | Builder | Fremont, CA


Units in AP Physics 1

Unit 1 – Linear Kinematics

Unit 2 – Linear Forces

Unit 3 – Circular Motion

Unit 4 – Energy 

Unit 5 – Momentum 

Unit 6 – Torque 

Unit 7 – Oscillations 

Unit 8 – Fluids

Reading Key


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Made By
\Delta x = v_i t + \frac{1}{2} at^2F = ma
v = v_i + atF_g = \frac{G m_1m_2}{r^2}
a = \frac{\Delta v}{\Delta t}f = \mu N
R = \frac{v_i^2 \sin(2\theta)}{g} 
Circular MotionEnergy
F_c = \frac{mv^2}{r}KE = \frac{1}{2} mv^2
a_c = \frac{v^2}{r}PE = mgh
 KE_i + PE_i = KE_f + PE_f
MomentumTorque and Rotations
p = m v\tau = r \cdot F \cdot \sin(\theta)
J = \Delta pI = \sum mr^2
p_i = p_fL = I \cdot \omega
Simple Harmonic Motion
F = -k x
T = 2\pi \sqrt{\frac{l}{g}}
T = 2\pi \sqrt{\frac{m}{k}}
gAcceleration due to gravity, typically 9.8 , \text{m/s}^2 on Earth’s surface
GUniversal Gravitational Constant, 6.674 \times 10^{-11} , \text{N} \cdot \text{m}^2/\text{kg}^2
\mu_k and \mu_sCoefficients of kinetic (\mu_k) and static (\mu_s) friction, dimensionless. Static friction (\mu_s) is usually greater than kinetic friction (\mu_k) as it resists the start of motion.
kSpring constant, in \text{N/m}
M_E = 5.972 \times 10^{24} , \text{kg} Mass of the Earth
M_M = 7.348 \times 10^{22} , \text{kg} Mass of the Moon
M_M = 1.989 \times 10^{30} , \text{kg} Mass of the Sun
VariableSI Unit
s (Displacement)\text{meters (m)}
v (Velocity)\text{meters per second (m/s)}
a (Acceleration)\text{meters per second squared (m/s}^2\text{)}
t (Time)\text{seconds (s)}
m (Mass)\text{kilograms (kg)}
VariableDerived SI Unit
F (Force)\text{newtons (N)}
E, PE, KE (Energy, Potential Energy, Kinetic Energy)\text{joules (J)}
P (Power)\text{watts (W)}
p (Momentum)\text{kilogram meters per second (kgm/s)}
\omega (Angular Velocity)\text{radians per second (rad/s)}
\tau (Torque)\text{newton meters (Nm)}
I (Moment of Inertia)\text{kilogram meter squared (kgm}^2\text{)}
f (Frequency)\text{hertz (Hz)}

General Metric Conversion Chart

Example of using unit analysis: Convert 5 kilometers to millimeters. 

  1. Start with the given measurement: \text{5 km}

  2. Use the conversion factors for kilometers to meters and meters to millimeters: \text{5 km} \times \frac{10^3 \, \text{m}}{1 \, \text{km}} \times \frac{10^3 \, \text{mm}}{1 \, \text{m}}

  3. Perform the multiplication: \text{5 km} \times \frac{10^3 \, \text{m}}{1 \, \text{km}} \times \frac{10^3 \, \text{mm}}{1 \, \text{m}} = 5 \times 10^3 \times 10^3 \, \text{mm}

  4. Simplify to get the final answer: \boxed{5 \times 10^6 \, \text{mm}}



Power of Ten




















(Base unit)


Deca- or Deka-


















  1. Some answers may be slightly off by 1% depending on rounding, etc.
  2. Answers will use different values of gravity. Some answers use 9.81 m/s2, and other 10 m/s2 for calculations.
  3. Variables are sometimes written differently from class to class. For example, sometime initial velocity v_i is written as u ; sometimes \Delta x is written as s .
  4. Bookmark questions that you can’t solve so you can come back to them later. 
  5. Always get help if you can’t figure out a problem. The sooner you can get it cleared up the better chances of you not getting it wrong on a test!

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