Understand the Exam Format
The first step in creating a study plan is to understand the exam format.
The AP Physics 1 exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and 5 free-response questions (FRQ). Each section is 50% of the exam and takes 90 minutes to complete.
3 Step Summary for Success
- How to Ace the MCQ section: Unique strategies to get you ahead
- Solve each questions under 90 seconds, or mark it wrong.
- Understand concept pairing and how to prepare for it.
- Understand common questions types and how to tackle them
- How to Crush the AP Physics 1 FRQs: Step-by-Step Strategies and Examples
- Undestand the types of questions you will be given and how they will be broken down into parts.
- Know exactly what you will and won’t be given points for.
- Know how college board wants you to provide evidence.
Concept pairing is the single most important thing understand when it comes to the AP Physics 1 exam.
Nearly every question will require you to use multiple topics to solve a single problem. You will almost never see a problem that you can solve using one concept.
For example, a popular combination is Forces and Momentum.
To learn more about concept pairing and other things that make the AP Exam difficult, check out this short article.
While you practice questions, identify concept pairs. Become extremely good at choosing which topics college board is asking you to use for each question. This is straight forward as most think.
Know What You Need to Know
AP Physics 1 covers a range of topics, from mechanics to energy and momentum. Make sure you’re familiar with the exam content by reviewing the course outline provided by the College Board.
Create a checklist of concepts and equations you need to know, and rank them based on your strengths and weaknesses.
For a comprehensive list of all
If you are having trouble on all of them, it is likely you were not taught well in general. Nerd-notes aims to solve this with a combination of free resources and 1-to-1 elite tutoring that has been proven to increases understanding by 100% on the very first lesson.
Here are the topics you need to know along with the exam weighting for the MCQ portion of the AP Exam. Click each link to read a speed review of the unit and test your knowledge.
- Kinematics (12-18% of the exam)
- Dynamics (16-20%)
- Circular Motion and Gravitation (6-8%)
- Energy (20-28%)
- Momentum (12-18%)
- Simple Harmonic Motion (4-6%)
- Torque and Rotational Motion (12-18%)
Gather Study Materials
To be successful in AP Physics 1, you need to have the right study materials. These include mock exams and a review book or review guides.
Nerd-Notes has free “Speed Review Guides” for each topic along with AP style practice questions. Alternative you can purchase the latest Princeton review, Barrons, or 5 step to a 5 booklet. College board has updated the AP Physics curriculum in 2021 so, be sure to purchase the most recent version of the review books.
Practice questions are a must. I’ve worked with many students that have scored 5’s. The one thing in common was their drive to do as many questions as possible. I had a student do over a 1000 questions with me over the course of 4 months — and it works!
To put it simply, you must practice and fully understand a total of 100 questions per unit. You can find questions from you text book, online, or your teacher.
Mock exams are equally as important. Intact if you only have a few weeks to study for the exam, I would highly recommend spending them taking as many mock exams, throughly understanding the ones you missed and improving your overall score by 10-15% per week. Ask your school or tutor for mock exams. Take a minimum of four.
Create a Study Schedule
Now that you have the necessary knowledge and materials, it’s time to create a study schedule. Include time for taking practice exams, reviewing challenging areas, and self-care breaks to prevent burnout.
Dedicate 5 to 8 weeks to studying for the exam. Take a mock exam to establish a baseline score and aim to increase it by a certain amount each week. Identify areas of weakness to focus on. It’s essential to allocate around 4-5 hours on weekends and 2-3 hours on weekdays. If you’re having difficulty sticking to a schedule or need motivation, Nerd-Notes provides a five-week program that increases your chances of getting a 5. The program includes all materials, resources, and a personalized 24-hour learning plan that has helped over 200 students achieve stellar results.
If you’re struggling with concepts or stuck on specific questions, consider seeking professional assistance to expedite your learning. Alternatively, you can access free help from your school or friends.
|Date (6 to 8 hours per week)||Goals|
|Week 1||Take a mock exam. Set a baseline score. Identify areas of weaknesses and create a study plan according to that.|
|Week 2||Tackle your weak points first. Practice numerous questions on the topic until you can solve each question under 90 seconds. Take another mock exam; time yourself to get an accurate feel for the test!|
|Week 3||Keep practice weak points, and throughly reviww questions missed on the mock exam. It’s highly recomded to do this with a tutor or teacher that can properly explain the underlying concept and probelm solving strategy.|
|Week 4||Take another mock exam. Repeat processes above. You should see around a 20% improvement in score by now.|
|Week 5||Take another mock exam. Keep practicing questions and understanding the missed ones.|
|Week 6||Review all the questions in it’s entirety and come up with a strategy for each topic, each section, and each type of question. The more you can come up with the easier the exam will be.|
Practice with Realistic Questions
Practice makes perfect, and practicing with realistic AP Physics 1 questions is essential for success. Use past AP Physics 1 exams and practice questions provided by your study materials to simulate the exam experience. This will help you get used to the format and pace of the exam, and identify areas where you need more practice.
You can find these specific resources right here on nerd-notes, or from any physics teacher and tutor.
Get professional coaching
Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Consider forming a study group with classmates or seeking help from a tutor or teacher. Discussing and solving problems with others can help solidify your understanding of concepts and identify areas where you need more practice.