# Unlocking the 5 Secrets to Scoring a 5 on the AP Physics 1 Exam

###### Jason Kuma

Writer | Coach | Builder | Fremont, CA

###### Article Content
Are you struggling to score high on the AP Physics 1 exam? Fear not! With these five hacks, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that coveted 5.

### Understanding the Challenge

The AP Physics 1 exam is designed to be much harder than your textbook problems.

Scoring a 5, however, is easier than you think. I know, because I’ve helped over 500 students score a 5.

I’m condensing all of what I know in this guide, so you get a 5 too.

Here’s are the five main things I’ll cover:

1. Concept pairing
2. Studying vs Practicing
3. Time Management
4. Maxing Time Based of Test Structure
5. Pro Tip – This will help you get a 5 over anything else.

### Concept Pairing

One of the main challenges is the testing of two concepts at once — what I like to call “concept pairing.”

For example, a question will often test for momentum and kinetic energy simultaneously. Here is an example from the 2016 AP practice exam:

Two identical blocks, 5 kg each, are connected to the opposite ends of a compressed spring. The blocks initially slide together on a frictionless surface with a velocity of 2 m/s to the right. The spring is then released. At some later instant, the left block is moving at 1 m/s to the left, and the other block is moving to the right. What is the speed of the center of mass of the system at that instant?

If you are thinking of using conservation of momentum, you’re on the right track. To solve the question, however, you need to know how to find velocity of center of mass.

Bottom line: The only way to get good at question like this it to practice concept pairing. Head over to UBQ, select “concept pairing” under filters, and start solving!

### Studying vs. Practice

Instead of reading through endless pages of Barrons/Princeton review, do challenging practice problems.

Reading or watching crash courses is productive procrastination. It doesn’t move the needle without tons of practice.

None of my 500+ students read crash courses or even took notes. And they still got 5’s.

All it came down to was the number of questions they worked on.

Bottom line: Start doing questions ASAP. And not just any questions. Quality ones. AP ones. Challenging ones.

#### How can I practice?

IF you’ve completed all the question on UBQ, you will likely get a 5. But here are a few more resources for free questions:

1. College Board released FRQs
2. Crack AP 30 Physics 1 Multiple Choice tests (note: these are relatively easy questions compared to the actual exam, but still worth doing)
3. More practice tests with answers and explanations (note: fairly easy)
4. Varsity Tutors AP Physics 1 practice tests

The best resource of all is your teacher or tutor. Teachers have access to AP specific material, so be sure to ask for it.

Lastly, you can join our one of our Elite Physics Programs for even more resources and support.

Our 5 Weeks for a 5 Programs guarantees a 5 on the AP Physics 1 Exam. We only offer 5 spots every year. Feel free to enroll if its still available!

### Managing Test Time

Okay, this one might seem like common sense.

But here’s a few actionable tips to really work on your time management.

1. Print out a full length practice test.
2. Grab your phone and open up the stopwatch.
3. As you go through the test lap the timer every 90 seconds and move on to the next question

Now if you can’t solve a problem within 2 minutes, mark it wrong and take the time to understand why you were unable to solve it quickly enough.

There is almost always a concept related issue. Students that score 5’s are able to solve each MCQ question in ~90 seconds.

You don’t need to answer every question to score a 5. If you see a question can’t answer, just keeping moving!

### Test Structure + Maximizing Points

To get a 5, you only need ~75 percent. Work at a steady pace of 90 to 120 seconds per question.

Some reminders:

1. You don’t need all the points. You just need 70/100 points for a 5. You can mess around with this AP Physics 1 Score calculator to play with the number of MCQ and FRQ questions you need to get right.
2. Most information on this page pertains to MCQs. While FRQs are similar in concept here’s how you can master the FRQ section
3. The best way to avoid time crunch is to study practice questions and become confident.

### 5. PRO TIP

Pro Tip: There will ALWAYS be an equation.

Doing a conceptual problem? 90% of the time, there will be an equation to help solve the question.

The assumption is that “if there are no numbers, there must be no equation. So let’s just re-read this 10 times until something clicks.”

1. Read the problem once, and simultaneously figure out the law/main concept to apply.
2. Write down the equation for that law.
3. Manipulate the variables until it matches what you are given in the problem.

#### Example #1

Let’s take a look at this question from the 2016 Practice exam:

A solid metal bar is at rest on a horizontal frictionless surface. It is free to rotate about a vertical axis at the left end. The figures below show forces of different magnitudes that are exerted on the bar at different locations. In which case does the bar’s angular speed about the axis increase at the fastest rate? (Images choices not shown)

Notice: In this question, the concept pair is torque and rotational motion.

We can answer this question without even looking at the given options! Here’s how:

The question touches upon the concept of torque. So let’s list all torque equations: \tau = F_{\perp} r and \tau = I\alpha.

From this, we can set the two equal and conclude:

F_{\perp} r = I \alpha

Using the equation, we see that the F and r are directly proportional to \alpha. Therefore, the answer is the choice with the greatest force (F) and biggest lever arm (r).

If given a much harder problem, could you apply this strategy?

#### 5.2. Example #2 – You Try

A person exerts an upward force on a box. The box may be moving upward, downward, or not at all while the person exerts the upward force. For which of the following motions of the box is the work done by the person on the box correctly indicated?

What two concepts did you apply here? What formulas did you come up? Could you prove the answer via equations if was FRQ?

In the next article we will go over a few strategies to help you crush the FRQ portion of the AP Exam.

### Extra Help

We get it. Studying for AP Physics 1 is challenging. But we can help you score the highest possible score, in the shortest time possible. Sometimes all it takes it someone to show you how to do it.

See our year-around elite programs.

###### 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

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KinematicsForces
\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}}
ConstantDescription
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)}
\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}}

Prefix

Symbol

Power of Ten

Equivalent

Pico-

p

10^{-12}

Nano-

n

10^{-9}

Micro-

µ

10^{-6}

Milli-

m

10^{-3}

Centi-

c

10^{-2}

Deci-

d

10^{-1}

(Base unit)

10^{0}

Deca- or Deka-

da

10^{1}

Hecto-

h

10^{2}

Kilo-

k

10^{3}

Mega-

M

10^{6}

Giga-

G

10^{9}

Tera-

T

10^{12}

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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