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Best AP Physics 2 Quizlet Decks by Unit

⏱️  11 min read

written by

Brandon Wu

brandon wu

October 7, 2020


If there was a holy trinity for AP study sites, Quizlet would most certainly be in it. Its easy to use interface combined with its multi-purpose functionality helps students of all different learning styles in endless subject areas. However, it can sometimes be challenging to find the best flashcard sets, especially for a highly mathematical subject like Physics. 

Fiveable’s AP Physics 2 teachers & students have compiled the best Quizlet study decks for each unit. The AP Physics 2 exam covers a wide range of topics, so make sure to understand the base concepts for each unit. It’s important to note that the Quizlet decks don’t always cover EVERYTHING in that unit, so make sure you have additional study materials! Bookmark this page to use throughout the year!

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Unit 1: Fluids: Pressure and Forces (10-12%)

AP Physics 2 Unit 1 is all about fluids. You learn the characteristics of fluids, and how those characteristics are affected by the interactions and internal structure of the fluid. A good portion of this unit extends concepts from Physics 1 into the realm of fluids-- like systems, forces, and conservation of energy-- and then spices it up a bit with new topics like buoyancy, pressure, and conservation of mass flow.

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Physics 2 Unit 1: Fluids by William_Whitney1

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Fluid systems – As with all physics topics, half the battle is defining your system appropriately. Make sure you get practice recognizing what things belong in your system, and what things belong outside.
  • Density – All matter has a density, which can change under the influence of external effects. You’ll need to know how to calculate density and predict changes to density under different conditions, like an increase in temperature.
  • Pressure and forces – Just like in Physics 1, you’ll be dealing with forces. The only difference is that now there are more sources of force. Also note that a force can be distributed over an area, which is what we call pressure. 
  • Fluids and free body diagrams – Thought you were done with FBDs, did you? Learn how to apply FBDs to fluid situations.
  • Buoyancy – or the force of a fluid keeping you afloat. Know how to calculate buoyancy and how to integrate it into your FBDs.
  • Conservation of energy in fluid flow – Energy is conserved, just like in Physics 1. For fluids, we use Bernoulli’s equation and deal with energy densities instead of straight energy. 
  • Conservation of mass flow rate in fluids – Mass is also a conserved quantity, which you can use to help solve for unknown variables involving fluid flow. 

Note:  Not all of these topics are included in the Quizlet deck, otherwise it would be a million cards long. Make sure you study up using other sources!

Unit 2: Thermodynamics (12-18%)

Unit 2 revolves around thermodynamics. You get to learn the REAL meaning of heat 🔥, temperature 🌡, and thermal energy in the contexts of heat engines, pumps, and refrigerators. You’ll also get a dash of probability to prep you for the wild world of statistical mechanics when you inevitably become a physics major 😜.

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Physics 2 - Thermodynamics by ehwd

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Thermodynamic systems – Strengthen those system defining muscles by applying them to thermo problems.
  • Pressure, thermal equilibrium, and the ideal gas law –You’ll need to know how temperature relates to the kinetic energy of the molecules that make up the gas. Additionally, you can relate those things to pressure and volume using the ideal gas law. 
  • Thermodynamics and forces – Learn how to apply your force toolbox to thermodynamic situations. 
  • Heat and energy transfer – is essentially an extension of conservation of energy, only now we can actually explain how the heat dissipates via energy transfer, and predict the resulting temperature changes using Q=mCΔt.
  • Thermodynamics and collisions – Remember those inelastic collisions where momentum was conserved but kinetic energy wasn’t? Well, now you explain why.
  • Probability, thermal equilibrium, and entropy – AKA the molecular nitty-gritty of thermodynamics. You’ll need to be able to explain what entropy means, and how probability relates to thermodynamic quantities.

Note: Again, I couldn’t find a deck that covered all the essential material of unit 2. Make sure you cross-study.

Unit 3: Electric Force, Field, and Potential (18-22%)

This unit covers electrostatics, which covers A LOT. You get to learn about Coulomb’s law, which is cool because it looks EXACTLY like the law of gravitation, but with Q’s instead of M’s and k’s instead of G’s. You learn how charges move in electric fields, how to actually charge up objects, and how those charges attract or repel each other. Plus, you get ANOTHER conservation law. 

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Physics 2 - Electrostatics and Electric Potential Review by jmarble09

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Electric systems and charge – Again with the systems! The ever-pervasive essential knowledge point of “how to define a system” strikes again, but with electric charges. 
  • Charge distribution: friction, conduction, and induction – i.e. know how to charge up various objects lying around your house, and how each type of charging mechanism works. 
  • Electric permittivity – is a property of matter that describes how it interacts with electric fields. 
  • Electric forces and free body diagrams – extend your FBD and force toolboxes to include electric forces.
  • Gravitational and electromagnetic forces – You learned all about gravitation in Physics 1-- it has some fun parallels with Coulomb’s law.
  • Electric charges and fields – You should be able to draw the electric field lines for any charge configuration and understand how field lines add or subtract.
  • Conservation of electric energy – YAY a new conservation law, which we will use all the time in the next unit.

Note: This deck does a pretty solid job of covering all the material, but as always, make sure to cross-study. 

Unit 4: Electric Circuits (10-14%)

Bust out those lightbulbs, wires and colored pencils, because it’s about to get real. Learn all about series and parallel resistors and capacitors, then put that knowledge to the test with Kirchhoff’s rules.

Best Quizlet Deck: Electric Circuits: AP Physics 2 by danielllsanchez

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Definition and conservation of electric charge – You touch on this briefly in unit 3, but it becomes super important in unit 4. 
  • Resistivity and resistance – resistivity is a property of the material. Combined with the geometry of the material, you can create different resistances. 
  • Resistance and capacitance – Resistance pulls energy out of the circuit, usually via heat dissipation. Capacitors are more or less rechargeable batteries, capable of storing charge and energy. 
  • Kirchhoff’s loop rule – This rule helps you analyze circuits by exploiting conservation of energy. If you make a complete loop around the circuit, accounting for all voltage drops and gains, it should equal zero.
  • Kirchhoff’s junction rule – This rule helps you analyze circuits by exploiting conservation of charge. Whatever current comes INTO a junction, must also LEAVE the junction.

Note: This is a pretty solid Quizlet deck, but I recommend supplementing with some circuit diagrams to make sure you really know how to identify series and parallel components. I’m a big fan of using colored pencils to help you learn. Kirchhoff’s rules are also notorious for being confusing until you get the hang of them (darn plus and minus signs!) For extra practice with Kirchhoff’s rules, check out this video and this video.

Unit 5: Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction (10-12%)

What happens when charges start to move? What even is a magnet? Time to flex that field and force knowledge by applying it to magnetic systems. Learn how to calculate magnetic fields of all different shapes and sizes, and how to create your own electricity like a mini Nikola Tesla.

Best Quizlet Deck: Magnetism Review AP Physics 2 by Heather_Miller49

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Magnetic systems – Catching a trend, yet?
  • Magnetic permeability and magnetic dipole moment – like electric permeability, matter also has a magnetic permeability. Matter also has a magnetic dipole moment, which is the fundamental source of it’s magnetic behavior.
  • Vector and scalar fields – You’ve seen vector fields before, with electric and gravitational fields. These have a magnitude and a direction. Scalar fields are like electric and gravitational potential-- they don’t have a direction, just a value. 
  • Monopole and dipole fields – You should know how to calculate a monopole field if you know how to calculate the electric field from a point charge. To make it a dipole, stick in the opposite charge and use vector addition. Magnetic monopoles don’t exist in nature.  
  • Magnetic fields and forces – You should know how to calculate the magnetic field for various shapes, and how those fields affect different objects (like moving charges, current carrying wires, or other magnets).
  • Magnetic flux – Flux can be thought of as “how much stuff is going through an area”. When the magnetic flux through a conducting loop changes, it pushes the charges around, inducing a current. Lenz’s law and Faraday’s law are how a LOT of modern electronics work. 

Note: Probably my favorite fun fact--the foot pedal in the “Rock Band” drum set works via magnetic induction. The pedal has a magnet on it, and when you step on it, it moves in and out of a wire coil, sending a signal to the game that you have stepped. NEAT.

Unit 6: Geometric and Physical Optics (12-14%)

In unit 6, we learn all about light and how it acts like a wave. Throw in some lenses, mirrors, and diffraction gratings for good measure, and you’re all set to learn about the fun properties of electromagnetic waves. 

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Physics 2 Optics by cookiesandcreme_

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Waves – A wave is a traveling disturbance that transfers energy and momentum. 
  • Electromagnetic waves – in this unit we focus on the treatment of light as a wave, even though it can act like a particle (that’s in unit 7)
  • Periodic waves – A periodic wave is one that repeats as a function of both time and position and can be described by its amplitude, frequency, wavelength, speed, and energy.
  • Refraction, reflection, and absorption – when a wave encounters an object, it’s behavior can change. With refraction, it is bent off course according to Snell’s law. Reflection changes the direction of the wave, and absorption means the obstacle stole the energy. 
  • Images from lenses and mirrors – You’ll need to know how to draw lens and mirror diagrams to determine where a real or virtual image will appear. The equations for calculating the actual heights and locations of images are included in the Quizlet deck.
  • Interference and diffraction – Only waves exhibit interference and diffraction. Constructive interference occurs when the waves are in phase, adding their amplitudes. Destructive interference occurs when the waves are out of phase, a crest meets a trough, and they subtract. Diffraction is a special case of interference that makes sweet patterns (and is how we discovered that DNA was a double helix!)

Note: You’ll want to really focus on the conceptual understanding of HOW waves interact with these materials. It’s very easy to get mixed up in the equations, since they rely on you knowing what to input. 

Unit 7: Quantum, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics (10-12%)

Or as I like to call it, “where physics gets weird”. This unit serves as an introduction to all the fun and crazy stuff that Einstein and Schrodinger always talked about, where massless particles have energy and cats are both dead AND alive in a box at the SAME TIME??? 🙀 Light waves become light particles, matter particles become matter waves, and everything you thought you knew about physics gets turned upside down. I ended up choosing two decks for this unit, since most folks split them into “nuclear” and “quantum” instead of making one big deck. The “AP physics 2 unit 7” deck covers nuclear physics quite nicely, and the “Physics A-level” deck rounds off unit 7 with photoelectric effect and quantum phenomena.

Note: Quizlet decks for this unit are pretty scarce, so I ended up choosing two: one for nuclear stuff and one for quantum stuff. Lucky for you, there are tons of resources to help explain the quantum stuff at the conceptual level on the internet.

Best Quizlet Decks: ap physics 2 unit 7 by zaymas01 and Physics A-Level (AQA) : 2.2 Electromagnetic radiation and quantum phenomena by SeanCollins48 

Most important topics to know for the unit, straight from the AP Physics 2 guide:

  • Systems and fundamental forces – Again. But this time, this also includes knowing the history of the atomic models, from Bohr to plum pudding, as well as the atomic structure and how to read the periodic table.
  • Radioactive decay – charge, momentum, and nucleon number are conserved. You should be able to predict the outcome of various decays and calculate the energy transfer.
  • Energy in modern physics – is quantized. Nuclei can only gain or lose energy at specific energy levels.
  • Mass-energy equivalence – aka the famous E=mc2. Photons carry energy, even though they don’t have mass. Also, energy can be converted into mass and vice versa, like with pair production and electron-positron annihilation.
  • Properties of waves and particles – Classical mechanics can’t explain all of the crazy stuff we observe in nature, like light behaving as a wave sometimes and a particle some other times. Turns out, matter can behave as both, too!
  • Photoelectric effect – is more or less how we can trade light (photons) for electricity (electrons). When a photon transfers its energy to an electron, that electron can escape the atom it’s stuck to (it overcomes the work function or binding energy). We can then collect those free electrons and make electricity!
  • Wave function and probability – At the quantum scale, matter is described by a wave function, which leads to a probabilistic description of the microscopic world. 

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