Since the AP Physics 2 exam is notoriously difficult, it should be comforting to know that your exam booklet will include a reference sheet that lists many of the conversion factors, formulas, and equations you’ll need to use during the exam. There’s a lot of information on the three page equations sheet provided on the AP Physics C exams, though, so it’s important to be familiar with the info included on the sheet and how to use it to your advantage during the AP test.
That’s why we’ve developed the PrepScholar AP Physics 2 equation sheet. Our sheet contains all the formulas and information you’ll see on the official College Board Physics 2 equation sheet, plus explanations of the equations so you’ll know when to use them. This sheet is designed to be a study tool for you as you prepare for your AP Physics C exam.
In this article, we’ll help you gain a full understanding of what the AP Physics 2 equation sheet is, what formulas it includes, and how to use them on the AP exam. We’ll also give you 3 practical tips for using the AP Physics 2 formula sheet as a study guide, and a list of tips for using the equations sheet effectively on exam day.
Let’s dive in!
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
The AP Physics 2 Exam
The AP Physics 2 exam is an algebra-based exam that tests your understanding of scientific concepts pertaining to quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. These topics are thoroughly covered in the AP Physics 2 course, which is a second-semester, introductory college course equivalent.
The exam is typically scheduled for sometime during the first two weeks of May and lasts for a total of 3 hours. The exam is broken down into the following sections:
Number of Questions
% of Exam Score
Section 1: Multiple Choice
50 multiple choice questions
1 hour and 30 minutes
Section 2: Free Response Questions
4 open-ended questions
1 hour and 30 minutes
During the AP Physics 2 exam, you’ll be able to use a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator, and you’ll also be provided with a sheet of commonly used physics equations and formulas. We’ll talk more about the equations sheet next.
This is what the official AP Physics 2 equation sheet looks like...and this is the sheet you'll get on test day.
The AP Physics 2 Equation Sheet
The AP Physics 2 Exam page on the CollegeBoard website provides a downloadable PDF of equations and formulas that are commonly used in quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics. In addition to commonly used equations and formulas, the AP Physics 2 reference tables include constants, conversion factors, unit symbols, prefixes, and values of trigonometric functions for common angles.
Here’s how the equations sheet is organized: constants and conversion factors, unit symbols, prefixes, and values of trig functions appear on the first page, and all succeeding pages consist of commonly used physics formulas and equations. You’ll find that there are formulas and equations provided for fluid mechanics, electricity and magnetism, mechanics and thermal physics, waves and optics, modern physics, and geometry and trigonometry.
We’ve provided our own version of the AP Physics C formula sheet, which includes all of the information that is supplied on the official AP Physics C formula sheet you’ll receive when you take the exam. As a bonus, our formula sheet provides additional descriptions of each equation that appears on the official formula sheet to help you work with the formula sheet as you study for the exam.
One important thing to note is that you won’t be able to bring your own copy of the AP Physics 2 reference tables into the exam room. Instead, you’ll be provided one along with your exam booklet when you sit for the exam.
Before you panic, remember that the equation sheet is supposed to be supplemental. In other words, it’s there to jog your memory, not to stand in for actually knowing the equations and how to use them! In fact, if you study hard enough, you may find you don’t need to use the equation sheet very much at all.
How to Use the AP Physics 2 Formula Sheet
While you won’t be able to use the PrepScholar equation sheet come exam day, it can be useful for memorizing equations and studying with them. Since our equations sheet has the exact same tables of information and equations as the official equations sheet, we’ll break down how the information in each section of the sheet is meant to be used on the exam.
Constants and Conversion Factors
Constants refer to quantities that are believed to have an unvarying value in nature and in time. There are 16 commonly used constants provided on the equations sheet, and each one is provided with its conversion factor. Conversion factors are used to change a measured quantity from one unit to another unit without changing the value.
The equations sheet provides the conversion factors for the following 16 constants:
- Proton mass
- Neutron mass
- Electron mass
- Avogadro's number
- Universal gas constant
- Boltzmann's constant
- Electron charge magnitude
- 1 electron volt
- Speed of light
- Universal gravitational constant
- Acceleration due to gravity at Earth's surface
- 1 unified atomic mass unit
- Planck's constant
- Vacuum permittivity
- Magnetic constant
- 1 atmosphere pressure
There’s no doubt that you’ll need to make conversions on the AP Physics 2 exam, so getting familiar with the conversion factors for each of the constants in this list is a must-do prior to the exam.
Prefixes, Unit Symbols, and Trigonometric Functions for Common Angles
The AP Physics 2 formula sheet also provides tables of unit symbols and prefixes. The unit symbols are provided to help you remember what the symbols used in constants, conversion factors, and equations signify. The equations sheet provides the name and symbol for common units of length, time, capacity, volume, area, mass, speed/velocity, and density.
The table of commonly used prefixes are used to represent very small or very large physical quantities. On the exam, you’ll express the value of a prefix in standard form in formulas and equations, and you’ll use the symbol or prefix when explaining a solution or writing an essay. The table of prefixes on the equation sheet supplies the prefix, symbol, and scientific notation (factor) for each value. For instance, you’ll find the prefix tera is supplied with its symbol, T, as well as its scientific notation value, 1012.
On the exam, a prefix can be combined with the word for a particular unit to express a value or measurement, like milli (the prefix) and grams (the unit) for milligrams, or tera (the prefix) and watts (the unit) for terawatts.
Finally, the first page of the equations sheet provides the values of sin, cos, and tan for common angles. These values can be used on geometry and trigonometry problems on the AP Physics 2 exam.
The PrepScholar Physics 2 equation sheet not only lists the equations you need to know, it also tells you when to use them!
The tables of equations are the lengthiest part of the formula sheet. Spanning two full pages, these equations are divided up into six sections: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, fluid mechanics and thermal physics, waves and optics, modern physics, and geometry and trigonometry.
Each section of formulas provides a symbols key and list of equations and formulas. Additionally, while this isn’t provided on the official equation sheet you’ll receive during the exam, our version of the equation sheet also includes a brief description of the relationship(s) that can be expressed using the formulas provided.
There are 29 mechanics equations supplied on the equation sheet. On the exam, these formulas and equations can be used to determine, describe, calculate, and explain:
- Kinematic relationships and angular kinematic relationships
- Force, frictional force, and static friction
- Momentum, change in momentum, and angular momentum
- Spring potential energy and gravitational potential energy
- Kinetic energy and kinetic energy in a rotating object
- Energy transfer
- Acceleration, centripetal acceleration, and angular velocity
- The center of mass in an object
- A simple wave
- The period of simple harmonic motion (SHM) and the period of a system oscillating in SHM
- Gravitational force, the magnitude of gravitational force between two objects, and the gravitational potential energy of the object-Earth system
Looking for help studying for your AP exam?
Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!
Electricity and Magnetism Equations
The next section of equations pertain to electricity and magnetism. The 27 equations in this section can be used to determine, describe, calculate, and explain the following:
- The magnitude of electromagnetic force between two point charges (Coulomb's Law)
- Electric field
- Magnitude of an electric field in various contexts
- Changes in a system’s internal structure
- Changes in a system’s internal energy
- The average value of the electric field of a region
- Magnetic field
- Magnetic force in various contexts
- Changing magnetic flux
- Stored energy, stored electrical potential energy, capacitance, and equivalent capacitance of capacitors
- Electrical current
- Resistance and resistors
- Ohm’s Law
Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics Equations
There are also 11 formulas and equations for fluid mechanics and thermal physics. These formulas can be used to determine, describe, calculate, and explain the following on the exam:
- Absolute pressure
- Force; contact force
- The continuity equation
- Bernoulli’s equation
- Thermal conductivity
- The ideal gas law
- The average kinetic energy of a system
- The work done on a system
- Change in internal energy of a system
Waves and Optics Equations
The seven waves and optics formulas and equations can be used to calculate, determine, describe, or explain the following:
- Snell’s Law
- Law of reflection
Modern Physics Equations
The four equations provided for modern physics express or explain the following:
- Energy of a photon
- Photoelectric effect
- Wavelength of a particle
- The theory of special relativity
Geometry and Trigonometry Equations
The final section of formulas and equations are used for geometry and trigonometry problems on the exam. The equations included here are used to determine the following:
- Area of a rectangle
- Area of a circle; circumference of a circle
- Volume of a rectangular solid
- Volume of a cylinder; surface area of a cylinder
- Volume of a sphere; surface area of a sphere
- Value of the three angles of a right triangle and its hypotenuse.
3 Tips for Using the AP Physics 2 Equation Sheet to Study
The AP Physics 2 formula sheet can be useful for more than just a reference guide—you can also use it as a study tool! Check out our ideas for how to study with the AP Physics 2 equation sheet below.
Tip 1: Select Practice Problems
To make sure you’re prepared to use the equations correctly on the exam, pick out some practice AP exam problems that require you to use equations from the exam sheet. Practice referring back to the equation sheet (only when you need it!) as you work the problem. Getting used to utilizing the tools you have will help you gain confidence while you’re studying, and it will also let you practice using the equation sheet in a real-world context.
Basically, jogging your memory about how each formula should be used (especially if it’s been a minute since you covered them in class) through practice questions will help you be prepared for what to do if you find you need to use the equations in different contexts on the test.
Tip 2: Work Toward Memorization
While it probably wouldn’t make sense to memorize every single equation in the AP Physics 2 reference tables, you should definitely take the time to memorize the formulas that are used more frequently, or those that are used to derive other formulas.
Your experiences in AP Physics should help you determine which equations you need to memorize. You can use the symbols key and brief description of how the formula is used from the equation sheet to not only memorize what the equations are but how they should be used in context.
In order to successfully demonstrate your knowledge on the exam, it’s important to not only memorize the equations, but also what they mean, and when you should use them.
Tip 3: Remember the Layout
The AP Physics 2 formula sheet is long--it’s three pages jam-packed with formulas. Because of this, you don’t want to go into the exam without having a pretty decent sense of where different types of information are located in the reference tables. The less familiar you are with the equation sheet, the more time you’re likely to lose when trying to use it on the exam!
That’s why it’s important to spend some of your study time gaining a sense of where information is located on the equation sheet. While you don’t need to memorize the entire layout of the sheet, read over it several times to get a visual picture of where different equations are located so you can find what you need more quickly during the actual exam.
Don't get stressed out during your AP Physics exam! Our tips will help you know exactly when to (and when not to!) use your Physics 2 equation sheet on test day.
2 Tips for Using the AP Physics 2 Equation Sheet on the AP Exam
There are definitely ways to be strategic about how you use the AP Physics equations sheet during the AP exam. We’ve got two tips for how to make best use of the equations sheet on exam day below.
Tip 1: Jog Your Memory
You already know that the AP Physics 2 formula sheet isn’t meant to take the place of your thorough understanding of the physics involved in each exam question. If you’re well-prepared for the exam, the ideal way to use the equation sheet is as a helpful reminder when your mind goes blank.
If you forget a formula or value and know it’s on the equation sheet, don’t waste time. Every second counts on the AP Physics 2 exam, so it’s worth it to flip over to the equation sheet the moment your mind goes blank and get the info you need.
In other words, use the equation sheet to work faster!
Tip 2: Make Conversions
The constants and conversion factors, prefixes, and units of measurement may be unchanging, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all easy to remember. While it’s likely you’ll make sure you know some prefixes and conversions by heart prior to the exam, there are others that are used less frequently that you may need a refresher on during the test.
Turning to the equations sheet can help you make conversions during the exam--and give you confidence that you’re making them accurately. If you aren’t sure you’ve applied the conversion factors accurately, you can check the equation sheet to make sure you didn’t accidentally mess up a scientific notation or unit of measurement. You should also consult the table of prefixes if you go blank on the correct prefix for a scientific notation, and vice versa.
Are you wondering if AP Physics 2 is the right class for you? This guide can help you determine the best AP classes you should take.
The AP Physics 2 test is hard, but is it the hardest AP test you can take? Read this article to find out.
What’s the difference between AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, and AP Physics C, anyway? This article will teach you everything you need to know about the different classes, and it will help you determine which AP Physics classes you should take.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.