MH2020

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2018
Messages
5
I am a junior in high school interested in USNA currently taking Physics Honors.
Would it be better to take AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C as a senior next year?

Does USNA value AP Physics C significantly higher than AP Physics 1?
I am also currently taking Pre-Calculus and will take AP Calculus AB my senior year.
(AP Calculus AB is a co-requisite to AP Physics C)

Since I heard AP Physics C is a calculus-based course, and I only have Pre-Calculus experience right now as of my junior year, would AP Physics C be too difficult to get a high grade?

Thanks
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
89
I can't speak to the admissions side of things, but I have a couple of friends who are in C, and it's a ton of work. To have that class your senior year would be a real bummer.
 

jhc23

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
29
I took both AP Physics I and AP Physics C. It’s practically the same class, C is calc based and I is algebra based. I did, however, hear that C is more valuable to colleges, but I wouldn’t give it too much thought. They are both classes that will look good on a transcript and help prepare you for similar classes at the academy.
 

jhc23

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
29
Those in my class that took Physics C without prior physics or calculus experience are struggling the most. It’s nothing you can’t handle, just a LOT of things coming at you at once.
 

klk2272023

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Messages
21
I am taking AP Physics C right now and am Honors Calculus. It is hard work, but the math was not the problem for me. Timing is what is very difficult. You are given a test every few weeks in a time slot that is not long enough to finish the test, unless you work for hours each night preparing. There is a bump to count for this time issue. In my opinion, it is not big enough to count for it. I really enjoy physics and am planning to be majoring in physics at USNA, but this course was not my favorite just because of how much time is needed to be put in just so you can finish the test and get a decent grade. This is the advice I tell everyone that asks me about physics C: if you are looking to major in a physics field, it is worth it. However, if you are looking to fill a spot on your transcript with an AP course, C is probably not the course to choose. Also, friends of mine who are in AB Calculus also struggle, as they are not even at the right pace with this course math wise.
 

Tbpxece

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
770
So, a tip from someone else well on the other side of all this...

If you have to take Calculus-based physics as a prerequisite for your intended major (engineering, some sciences, some maths), AND you can guarantee you will receive credit for it in the college you are going to attend, then take it in high school and be happy with whatever C+ grade you get.

If you don't need Calculus-based physics, do not take it in high school. Take algebra-based physics or something else instead.

If you will not be able to get credit for your Calc-based Physics in the college of your choice, then do not take it in high school .

Calc-based physics is a common weed-out class at most schools for engineering, science, and math students. Engineering Technology students typically do not need to take it.

Lastly, if you get creamed in calc-based physics-- don't worry, nearly everyone does. Once you take Dynamics, you will realize you ultimately don't really need it anyway-- at least for anything that is moving. In the same way that Calculus is a replacement for Algebra (in large part), Energy-based Dynamics is a replacement for most of Calculus-based Physics-- and it is MUCH easier. Thank Einstein, et al. for that.

Of course, it will still be used in statics, solid mechanics, beam theory, etc.

I do not know why you would take a calculus-based anything without knowing how to integrate and derivate, though. So, if you don't have Calc 1 and 2 under your belt, it's not worth the time. Take Calc 1, 2, and (maybe) 3 (vectors) first.
 

HJUfutbol40

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2018
Messages
14
I am a junior in high school interested in USNA currently taking Physics Honors.
Would it be better to take AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C as a senior next year?

Does USNA value AP Physics C significantly higher than AP Physics 1?
I am also currently taking Pre-Calculus and will take AP Calculus AB my senior year.
(AP Calculus AB is a co-requisite to AP Physics C)

Since I heard AP Physics C is a calculus-based course, and I only have Pre-Calculus experience right now as of my junior year, would AP Physics C be too difficult to get a high grade?

Thanks

My son did the same, Pre-Calc junior year and AP Calc and AP Physics C this year. He is doing well in both, but even better in Physics than Calc. It is a lot of work but can be done. (He also works a PT job). Good luck to you.
 

5centsmom

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2018
Messages
158
Tbpxece +1

Several 1st year college courses are “weeder” classes, separating wheat from the chaff. Look up the progression of courses for your intended college major to get an idea of where you need to be upon entering the program. Some programs may be difficult to squeeze into 4 years if you don’t enter with the correct base. Nailing Calculus down at each level is key.

I’d only add that you need to go talk to the Math dept and Physics instructor(s) at your school. Teachers are very good at knowing YOU and where you are in the process, and can advise you. Huge help to our DS, and even the occasional conflicting advice helped him figure it out.
 

sa_applicant2023

USNA 2023
Joined
Dec 19, 2017
Messages
102
I am a junior in high school interested in USNA currently taking Physics Honors.
Would it be better to take AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C as a senior next year?

Does USNA value AP Physics C significantly higher than AP Physics 1?
I am also currently taking Pre-Calculus and will take AP Calculus AB my senior year.
(AP Calculus AB is a co-requisite to AP Physics C)

Since I heard AP Physics C is a calculus-based course, and I only have Pre-Calculus experience right now as of my junior year, would AP Physics C be too difficult to get a high grade?

Thanks

I am a senior taking AP Physics C with PreCalc Juniors in my class. They are doing just fine.

AP physics C is a demanded course you have to take if pursuing any STEM major. Its challenging and I think one of the things that helped me get into USNA was my ability to take this class and balance it with everything else (including two other AP classes)

Theres a lot of self study though. You have to find out why you are making mistakes. In physics C the teacher does not have time in class to tell you everything about why you got a kinematics / particle motion question / statics question wrong. Youtube was my teacher this year, and finished off my first semester in that class with an A.

Then again, you should never anticipate what your experiences will be based on other people’s opinions without finding out how good you are at physics and how much you like it. If you a want a challenge that will impress the admissions committee more, then take physics C.
 

ders_dad

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2017
Messages
762
Engineering programs do not expect incoming freshmen to have calculus-based physics. That is typically a sophomore class, taken concurrently with static’s and depending on your specific major, strength of materials. You will need to have taken Calc-based physics before dynamics and before fluids. You are FAR BETTER OFF taking (and understanding) algebra-based physics, which is what differential equations evolve to after limits are set. Understanding projectile motion etc. using algebraic equations is what you need to know.

In practice, engineers rarely employ calculus (but it is important to understand, in my opinion). Complex differential equations are solved numerically. Numerical approximations, based on finite differences, use math you learned in second grade.
 

Tbpxece

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
770
In practice, engineers rarely employ calculus (but it is important to understand, in my opinion).

I'd disagree with this statement. Some engineering disciplines do not require much calculus, true. Some use it daily. Otherwise, well said.
 

Tbpxece

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
770
I am a senior taking AP Physics C with PreCalc Juniors in my class. They are doing just fine.

AP physics C is a demanded course you have to take if pursuing any STEM major.

Engineering Technology (part of the "T" in STEM) degrees typically do not require calculus or calculus-based physics as a part of most curriculums. That is one of the defining differences between ET and full Engineering. Similarly, some maths and sciences will not require it.

Glad to hear those PreCalc Juniors are doing just fine. That is certainly atypical (or you have an excellent teacher). Good luck!
 

ders_dad

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2017
Messages
762
I'd disagree with this statement. Some engineering disciplines do not require much calculus, true. Some use it daily. Otherwise, well said.

Good point - did not want to imply this as a blanket statement.

I still use calculus daily (35 years into my career) but I use the same few differential equations daily. I may have posted this before in this forum, but there has been an on-going debate in engineering education about the need to emphasize calculus in this day and age of numerical analysis (i.e. MatLab etc.). I have always fallen in the camp of "calculus is very important". If nothing else, it trains the mind. But you can't begin to formulate numerical approximation without a good understanding of calculus.

When I was an engineering professor, I spent inordinate amounts of time teaching things that students should have had in high school (or even grade school). Many were fine with differentiation and integration but were a deer in the headlights when asked to do dimensional analysis and conversion of units. One of my sons is currently a grad school TA and the stories he tells me... Let's just say high school students would benefit greatly from spending more time on algebra-based physics and get the fundamentals down.
 
Top