Is AP Physics 1 Hard?

January 16, 2024
6 min read

Students often ask, "is AP Physics 1 hard?" often comes up, and it's safe to say that it’s a challenging course. Keep reading to learn all about it. 

Let’s start off by exploring why physics is a valuable subject to get into. Physics explains the fundamental principles that govern everything from the motion of objects to the behavior of light and electricity. 

By understanding what physics is, we gain insight into how the universe works, allowing us to understand and appreciate various phenomena.

Practical applications of physics are all around us. It forms the basis for technologies like electricity generation, telecommunications, transportation, and medical imaging. Understanding physics allows us to understand these technologies and even contribute to their advancements. 

How hard is AP Physics 1? Well, it can be difficult, but it's definitely a great way to understand physics. AP Physics 1 covers the foundational concepts of physics, like motion, forces, energy, and waves. By taking this course, you'll explore the principles that explain how the world around us works. Let’s jump in.

Is AP Physics 1 Hard? Factors to Consider

When answering the question, "is AP Physics 1 hard?" It's important to consider a few things. 

Pass Rate

The pass rate for AP Physics 1 is 43.3%. Now, you might think that sounds low, but remember, AP courses are designed to push you and evaluate your college-level skills. The pass rate depends on factors like the exam's difficulty, your preparation, and how you study. 

By putting in the effort, preparing well, and truly understanding the material, you can improve your chances of success on the AP Physics 1 exam. Don't let the pass rate discourage you because, with the right mindset and dedication, you can conquer it!


In AP Physics 1, you'll dive into the foundational principles of physics. You'll explore topics like Newtonian mechanics, work, energy, and power, mechanical waves and sound, and simple circuits. This course uses algebra and focuses on understanding the basic concepts of physics.

One valuable thing about AP Physics 1 is the hands-on laboratory work. You'll get to conduct experiments and investigate different phenomena. This hands-on approach helps you apply what you learn in the classroom and develop practical skills in scientific inquiry.

Throughout the course, you'll explore important concepts like systems, fields, force interactions, change, conservation, and waves. These concepts form the building blocks of physics and help you understand how things work in the world.

In AP Physics 1, you'll learn the fundamentals of physics through topics like mechanics, waves, and circuits. You'll also get to do exciting experiments and discover how things work firsthand. It's a great way to start your journey into the fascinating world of physics.

Skills Required

To succeed in this AP course, mastering certain skills are essential. Strong math skills, including algebra and basic trigonometry, are important for solving physics problems. 

Critical thinking and analytical skills are also crucial, as you'll need to apply concepts to real-world scenarios and analyze experimental data. Additionally, having good study habits, time management, and the willingness to seek help when needed are important factors for success.

In conclusion, while AP Physics 1 can present challenges, it's important to consider factors such as the pass rate, content, and required skills. With dedication, consistent effort, and a proactive approach to learning, you can overcome the difficulties and excel in AP Physics 1. 

Remember, the journey may be challenging, but the rewards of gaining a deep understanding of physics and opening doors to future opportunities make it all worth it.

AP Physics 1 Exam

​​Is AP Physics 1 hard? This AP class can be a bit challenging, but don't worry! With dedication, effective studying, and some problem-solving skills, you can handle it. A good way to prepare is to go over the AP Physics 1 exam. Let’s jump in. 

math test


The AP Physics 1 exam is a comprehensive assessment of your knowledge and understanding of physics concepts. It consists of two main sections: multiple-choice questions and free-response questions.

The multiple-choice section contains a series of questions with answer choices. You'll need to analyze each question and select the best answer option based on your understanding of the topic. This section tests your ability to apply physics principles and solve problems.

The free-response section requires more in-depth responses. You'll be presented with a set of questions that may include qualitative analysis, mathematical calculations, and conceptual explanations. This section assesses your ability to think critically, articulate your understanding of physics concepts, and demonstrate problem-solving skills.

How Is The Exam Scored?

The AP Physics 1 exam is scored on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The exact scoring rubrics and criteria are determined by the College Board, the organization that administers the AP program. 

The multiple-choice section accounts for 50% of the total score, while the free-response section accounts for the remaining 50%.

Each section is scored independently, and then the scores are combined to determine the overall score. The scoring process considers the correctness and quality of your responses, as well as your ability to apply physics principles and solve problems effectively.

It's important to note that there is no penalty for incorrect answers in the multiple-choice section. So, it's always worth taking an educated guess if you're unsure about a particular question.

By understanding the exam format and scoring criteria, you can better prepare yourself for the AP Physics 1 exam. Remember to practice with sample questions, review key concepts, and develop problem-solving strategies to maximize your chances of achieving a favorable score.

Tips to Prepare for the AP Physics 1 Exam

Preparing for the AP Physics 1 exam doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right approach, you can tackle it like a pro. Here are some straightforward tips to help you prepare effectively.

Understand the Content

Start by understanding the key concepts covered in AP Physics 1. Review your class notes, textbooks, and any additional study materials. Focus on topics like mechanics, waves, and circuits. Make sure you have a solid understanding of the fundamental principles before diving into more complex areas.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions you might encounter on the exam. Practice with past AP Physics 1 exams to get a feel for the level of difficulty and the time constraints. This will help you become more comfortable with the exam structure and improve your test-taking skills.

Work on Practice Problems

Physics is all about applying concepts to solve problems. Work through a variety of practice problems to reinforce your understanding and develop your problem-solving skills. Look for resources that offer a range of difficulty levels to challenge yourself and ensure you're fully prepared for any type of question.

Explore Online Resources 

Don't limit yourself to just your textbook. Explore online resources, video tutorials, and interactive simulations to enhance your understanding of challenging topics. These resources can provide alternative explanations and visual demonstrations that can guide your learning process.

Reach Out for Help

students solving equations on chalkboard

Physics can be tough, so don't hesitate to collaborate with classmates or seek help from your teacher or peers. Join study groups, participate in online forums, and ask questions when you're stuck. Explaining concepts to others or hearing different perspectives can deepen your understanding and clarify any doubts you may have.

Take Time to Review and Revise

Focus on time management. Set aside dedicated time for review and revision. Create a study schedule and allocate specific time slots for each topic. Use concise summaries, flashcards, and concept maps to reinforce your knowledge. Regularly review your notes and practice problems to keep the information fresh in your mind.

Preparing effectively is all about putting in consistent effort and practice. Stay organized, manage your time wisely, and remember to take breaks when you need them. 

Keeping a positive mindset and using a strategic approach will boost your confidence as you take on the AP Physics 1 exam and demonstrate your physics skills. You've got this!

Should You Take AP Physics 1?

Start by asking yourself if you have a strong interest in physics. If you find the subject fascinating and enjoy exploring the laws that govern the universe, AP Physics 1 could be a great fit for you. 

If you're comfortable with these mathematical concepts or willing to put in the effort to strengthen your skills, then AP Physics 1 might be worth considering. Taking AP courses requires dedication and a significant time commitment. It is also known for its challenging curriculum and demanding workload. 

Reflect on whether you have the time and energy to devote to this course alongside your other academic and extracurricular activities. If you're already heavily involved in other commitments and are concerned about spreading yourself too thin, it might be wise to assess if you can manage the workload effectively.

Don’t forget to consider your future academic and career goals. If you plan to pursue a degree or career in a STEM field, AP Physics 1 can provide a solid foundation and potentially earn you college credit. This course can be valuable if, for instance, you aspire to become an engineer, astrophysicist, or researcher. 

Ultimately, the decision to take AP Physics 1 should be based on your interest in the subject, your mathematical aptitude, your availability to manage the workload, and your long-term goals. 

Take the time to consider these factors and discuss your options with teachers or academic advisors who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. Remember, it's important to challenge yourself academically while finding a balance that allows you to succeed and enjoy your high school experience.

FAQs: AP Physics 1

“How hard is AP Physics 1?” is a question on the minds of many students. Keep reading to find your answers.

1. How Hard Is AP Physics 1?

AP classes, in general, are difficult, and AP Physics 1 is no walk in the park. It's known to be a challenging course that requires some serious brainpower. You'll learn various physics concepts and apply math skills like algebra and trigonometry. 

But don't worry; with proper preparation, dedication, and support, you can conquer AP Physics 1. It won't be a cakewalk, but it's definitely doable!

2. What Is Harder AP Physics 1 or 2?

Compared to AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2 takes things up a level in terms of complexity. It delves deeper into topics like electricity, magnetism, optics, and modern physics. So, if you found AP Physics 1 challenging, be prepared for an extra challenge with AP Physics 2. 

However, it's important to remember that everyone's strengths and interests differ, so what may be difficult for one person could be easier for another.

3. Is AP Physics 1 Harder Than AP Bio?

AP Physics 1 and AP Biology present different challenges, so it's hard to definitively say which one is harder. AP Physics 1 focuses on physics concepts and math applications, while AP Biology covers various aspects of living organisms. 

The perceived difficulty can vary based on individual strengths, interests, and aptitude for math or biology. Consider your personal preferences and abilities when choosing between the two courses.

4. What Is the Pass Rate for AP Physics 1?

The pass rate for AP Physics 1 is 43.3%, which may seem low. However, AP courses are meant to challenge and assess college-level skills. The pass rate depends on factors such as exam difficulty, preparation, and study habits.

5. Is AP Physics 1 Mostly Math?

AP Physics 1 goes beyond math. While math is crucial for problem-solving, the course also emphasizes understanding physics principles. It covers topics like mechanics, thermodynamics, and waves to develop a comprehensive understanding of the subject and its real-world applications.

Final Thoughts

Is AP Physics 1 hard? The answer is yes; AP Physics 1 is considered a challenging course. It covers a wide range of physics concepts and requires a strong understanding of math. However, with proper preparation, it’s possible to succeed in AP Physics 1. 

It's important to stay focused, seek help when needed, and make use of the resources around you. While it may be difficult at times, approaching the course with determination and a growth mindset can lead to a rewarding learning experience.

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