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AP Physics C Equation Sheet: What's on It and How to Use It

Posted by Ashley Robinson | Mar 1, 2021 6:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

 

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Both of the AP Physics C exams supply a nifty information sheet with the exam booklet on test day. This information sheet is packed full of formulas and equations that are used in physics, which means it can be extremely useful as you prepare for and take the AP Physics C exams. 

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 exams. 

That’s why we’ve developed the PrepScholar AP Physics C equation sheet. Our sheet contains all the formulas and information you’ll see on the official College Board Physics C 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.

To further help you learn the ins and outs of the AP Physics C reference tables, we’ll also do the following in this article:

  • Explain how to use the AP Physics C equation sheet, section by section
  • Provide three tips for using the equations sheet to prepare for the AP Physics C exams
  • Provide three tips for using the equations sheet during the actual AP exams.

Let’s get started!

 

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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.

 

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Yep, that's right: there are actually two AP Physics C exams. But studying our equation sheet will help minimize that "lose the will to live" feeling. Probably.  

 

The AP Physics C Exam

There are actually two AP Physics C exams: one focuses on mechanics, and the other focuses on electricity and magnetism. Both AP Physics C exams assess student application of science practices pertaining to the courses’ big ideas of change, force interactions, fields, and conservation. 

Specifically, the AP Physics C courses test students over the following course topics: 

AP Physics C: Mechanics
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
Kinematics
Electrostatistics
Newton’s Laws of Motion
Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics
Work, Energy, and Power
Electric Circuits
Systems of Particles and Linear Momentum
Magnetic Fields
Rotation
Electromagnetism
Oscillations
 
Gravitation
 

 

Both AP Physics C exams are 1 hour and 30 minutes long, and they consist of one multiple choice section and one free response section. 

The multiple choice section has a total of 35 questions and lasts for a duration of 45 minutes on both exams. The free response section on both AP Physics C exams consists of three questions and lasts for 45 minutes total. The multiple choice and free response sections of the exams are each worth 50% of the overall exam score. 

The good news is that the AP Physics C mechanics equation sheet and the AP Physics C electricity and magnetism equations sheet are the same, so you won’t need to use two different documents to study for the test. 

 

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This is what the equation sheet you receive on test day will look like! 

 

The AP Physics C Equation Sheet

The AP Physics C formula sheet is provided for exam takers on both of the AP Physics C exams as a part of the exam booklet, and the equations sheet for each exam is the same. The equations sheet provided during the exam is by no means a comprehensive table of physics equations, but instead provides equations commonly used in physics, plus constants, conversion factors, unit symbols, values of commonly used functions, and unit prefixes.  

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. 

Though both our AP Physics C formula sheet and the official formula sheet provided on the exam include lots of information that will be useful on the exam, it’s important to remember that the formula sheet is meant to be supplemental--it isn’t supposed to stand in for a deep and thorough understanding of the physics involved in each problem on the test. With that in mind, keep reading to learn about how to properly use the information provided in each section of the AP Physics C formula sheet when you actually take the exam. 

 

How To Use the Formulas on the AP Physics C Equation Sheet

The AP Physics C formula sheet is several pages long and is divided into five sections: constants and conversion factors, prefixes, unit symbols, values of trigonometric functions for common angles, and equations. 

The equations section of the formula sheet is the longest and is divided into subsections based on type of formula. The subsections within the equations portion of the information sheet are mechanics, electricity and magnetism, geometry and trigonometry, and calculus. Each section of the formula sheet can be used for different purposes on the exam, too.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the major sections below. 

 

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Constants and Conversion Factors

The constants and conversion factors included on the AP Physics C formula sheet will be useful when doing calculations of various kinds on the AP exam. Sometimes called “physical constants” or “universal constants,” these quantities are known for having an unchanging value no matter the context in nature. 

The following constants are included on the formula sheet: 

  • Proton mass
  • Neutron mass
  • Electron mass
  • Avogadro’s number
  • Universal gas content
  • 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
  • Coulomb's law constant
  • Vacuum permeability
  • Magnetic constant
  • 1 atmosphere pressure

Some constants do not have units, but those constants that do have units may need to be converted to and expressed in different units on the exam. That’s where conversion factors come in handy on the exam. The conversion factors included on the equations sheet can be used to convert constants from one unit to another through multiplication or division. 

 

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Prefixes, Unit Symbols, and Trigonometric Functions for Common Angles

The table of prefixes and the table of unit symbols will go hand-in-hand in helping you on the AP Physics C exam. A prefix is combined with the word for a particular unit to express a value or measurement when you answer questions on the exam, like kilo (the prefix) and grams (the unit), or giga (the prefix) and watts (the unit). If you can’t remember the value (in tens of thousands!) of a particular prefix, the table of prefixes on the formula sheet can help jog your memory. 

The table of prefixes also supplies the symbol for each prefix, which can be combined with the correct symbol of a unit when answering questions on the exam. For example, it’s correct to cite a value in units of either milliseconds or ms, and gigahertz or GHz.

Finally, the prefixes table also supplies the factor, or scientific notation, for each prefix. These appear as the number 10 with an exponent, such as 109 or 1012. You can expect to express the largest and smallest measurements using the scientific notation on the AP Physics C exam. 

The last section on the first page of the equations sheet provides the trigonometric functions for common angles. These will come in handy on geometry, trigonometry, and calculus problems on the AP exam. The table supplies the value of sin, cos, and tan at different degrees, which you can use for quick reference as you solve problems on the AP Physics C test. 

 

Equations

The bulk of the formula sheet you’ll be provided with during the AP Physics C exams supplies common equations used in physics. These equations are broken down into the following areas: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and geometry and trigonometry. 

Each section of equations also includes a symbols key to help you remember what each symbol signifies in a given equation. Also, while this isn’t included on the official formula sheet you’ll receive during the AP Physics C exam, our version of the formula sheet provides a brief explanation of each equation and how it can be used during the exam. 

 

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Mechanics Equations  

The AP Physics C equation sheet section supplies 31 commonly used mechanics equations. These equations can be used for the purpose of defining, describing, calculating, and determining the following on the exam: 

  • Kinematic relationships, angular kinematic relationships
  • Momentum, total momentum, angular momentum for a rotating object, and momentum for a single object moving with some velocity 
  • Impulse
  • Force, frictional force, the work done on an object by a force, and gravitational force
  • Kinetic energy, kinetic energy in a rotating object, 
  • Potential energy, potential energy for a spring object, and gravitational potential energy
  • Power
  • Torque
  • Moment of inertia
  • Simple harmonic motion

 

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Electricity and Magnetism Equations 

The next table on the formula sheet includes 29 common electricity and magnetism equations. These equations can be used to determine, define, describe, and calculate the following during the exam: 

  • The magnitude of electrostatic force
  • Electric fields and features of electric fields
  • Potential difference, potential due to multiple point charges, and electrostatic potential energy
  • Capacitors and capacitance
  • Resistance, equivalent resistance, and the definition of power or the rate of heat loss through a resistor
  • Currents and current density
  • Magnetic force, magnetic fields, and magnetic flux

 

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Formulas Associated With Laws

The electricity and magnetism section also provides the formulas associated with the following laws: 

  • Coulomb’s Law
  • Gauss’s Law
  • Ohm’s Law
  • Ampere’s Law
  • Biot-Savart Law
  • Faraday’s Law

 

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Geometric and Trigonometric Functions 

Finally, the table of 14 geometric and trigonometric functions on the equations sheet can be used to calculate the following on the AP Physics C exam: 

  • Area of a rectangle
  • Area of a triangle
  • Area, circumference, and arc length of a circle
  • Volume of a rectangular solid
  • Volume and surface area of a cylinder
  • Volume and surface area of a sphere
  • Formulas for determining the value of the angles of a right triangle

The AP Physics C equations sheet covers a lot of ideas and practices pertaining to physics, so it’s important to get really comfortable with what’s on the equations sheet and consider how best to use it as a resource while preparing for and taking the exam. 

Keep reading for our tips on how to use the equations sheet to study for the AP Physics C exam!

 

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3 Tips for Using the AP Physics C Formula Sheet as a Study Guide

The College Board provides the AP Physics C equations sheet online prior to the exam, which indicates it might be worth looking over before you take the exam. Here are three tips for using the equations sheet as a study tool!

 

Tip 1: Practice Conversions

The faster you can do things correctly on the AP exam, the more time you have to check over your work and ensure your answers are correct. Using the equations sheet to practice doing common conversions as you study for the exam can help you make conversions without even needing to consult the formula sheet during the exam. 

And since the AP Physics C test time is limited, every second you save counts!

Sitting down with a few practice problems that specifically ask you to do conversions and using the equations sheet will help you recall common conversion factors more easily on exam day. 

 

Tip 2: Select Specific Practice Questions

If you know that you struggle with remembering or correctly using certain equations that appear in the AP Physics C reference tables, it’s probably a good idea to get in some practice with them before you take the exam. You’ll have to use the equations that are included on the formula sheet during the actual exam, so brushing up on the ones you struggle with will help you use your time more efficiently. 

To get more comfortable with some of those more difficult to recall equations, try selecting specific past AP questions that require you to use those equations.  Practice answering the questions using the equations, then check your work to ensure you’re using them correctly. This will set you up to have a solid grasp of most of the equations you could encounter on the real exam. 

 

Tip 3: Memorize Symbols

It might be difficult to remember all of the equations supplied in the AP Physics C reference tables (there are over 90!), but you probably can memorize what each symbol stands for. The different tables of equations provided on the equations sheet include a symbols key that indicates what each symbol used in an equation signifies. 

Memorizing what all of the different symbols stand for can help you quickly interpret the formulas, variables, and constants that are mentioned in exam questions, requiring you to spend less time consulting the equations sheet during the test. 

 

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If you follow our advice, you won't feel like this on test day. But just in case, here are a few extra tips to help you ace your AP Physics C exam.

 

3 Tips for Using the AP Physics C Equation Sheet on Exam Day

Making good use of the equations sheet and the time provided on the AP Physics C exams is crucial to earning a good score. Read on for our three tips for using the AP Physics formula sheet on exam day!

 

Tip 1: Be Efficient With Your Time

The ideal way to use the AP Physics C reference tables is simply as a quick reference guide to jog your memory. You don’t want to spend valuable time poring over the tables and symbols keys during the exam. Instead, flip quickly to the equations sheet to reference a value or equation you can’t remember off the top of your head. 

 

Tip 2: Make Quick Conversions

The equations sheet will be especially useful for making conversions and remembering the correct expressions for common constants throughout the exam. The values of the constants and conversion factors included on the equations sheet are long and complicated and may be hard to memorize for the exam. Turning to the equations sheet to aid you in making conversions can help you be efficient with your time and ensure your conversions are correct. 

 

Tip 3: Review Your Work and Make Edits

If you have extra time at the end of the AP Physics C exam, use that time to review your work and make necessary corrections. As you check your work, keep the equations sheet on hand and check any values, formulas, and equations against the sheet. It’s easy to accidentally leave out a crucial exponent or symbol that could completely change the meaning of your answer responses, particularly on the free response questions. Checking your work against the equations sheet can help you identify and fix these errors and maximize your score. 

 

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Next Steps 

If you’re looking for more resources to help learn some of the tough AP Physics C concepts, the IB Physics course notes can be a huge help. They cover many of the same topics in depth, and they can help shed some light on ideas and concepts you’re struggling with. You can find our complete list of the best IB Physics study notes here.

Need a refresher on how to calculate acceleration, step-by-step? We walk through the different formulas you need to figure out different kinds of acceleration here.

Wondering whether you should take AP Physics C? Well, it all depends on your goals! This article gives you the run-down on how to choose the AP classes that are right for you. 

 

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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

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.



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