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2021 AP Physics 2 Exam Guide

7 min readmay 12, 2021


AP Physics 2 🧲

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Your guide to the 2021 AP Physics 2 exam

We know that studying for your AP exams can be stressful, but Fiveable has your back! We have created a study plan that will help you crush your Physics 2 exam. We will continue to update this guide with more information about the 2021 exams, as well as helpful resources to help you score that 5. Create a Fiveable account and join our Discord to stay involved in all things AP exams! 😁

Resources:

Format of the 2021 AP Physics 2 exam

This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 Physics 2 exam is a total of 3 hours and the format will be:

Early May/ Late May (paper)

  • Section 1: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 50 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Section 2: Free Response (50% of score)
    • 4 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes
      • Experimental Design (1 question)
      • Qualitative/Quantitative Translation (1 question)
      • Short Answer (2 questions)

Early June (digital)

  • Section 1: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 50 questions in 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Section 2: Multiple Choice and Free Response (50% of score)
    • Multiple Choice
      • 25 questions in 45 minutes
    • Free Response
      • 2 questions in 45 minutes
        • Qualitative/Quantitative Translation (1 question)
        • Short Answer (1 question)

When is the 2021 AP Physics 2 exam and how do I take it?

There are three different exam administrations this year and the tests will be taken in person at your school unless your AP Coordinator has indicated otherwise. Here is what we know from College Board so far:
  1. The first administration offers the exam on paper, in school, on Monday, May 7, 2021, at 12 PM, your local time.
  2. The second administration offers the exam on paper, in school, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at 12 PM, your local time.
  3. The third administration offers the exam digitally, in school and at home, on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 4 PM, EDT.
Create a Fiveable account to get updates on the latest 2021 exam news. 

How should I prepare for the exam?

  • First, download the AP Physics 2 Cram Chart PDF - a single sheet that covers everything you need to know at a high level. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses!
  • Review every unit and question type, and focus on the areas that need the most improvement. We've put together this plan to help you study between now and May. This will cover all of the units and essay types to prepare you for your exam.
  • Additionally, create your schedule ahead of time so that you can connect with other students instead of just studying alone! Join our Discord channel to talk to real students just like you studying for this exam.
  • Resources:

    Pre-work: set up your study environment

    Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means you’ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual. 
    🖥 Create a study space.
    Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space. 
    📚 Organize your study materials.
    Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get yourself set up!
    📅 Plan designated times for studying.
    The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.
    🏆 Decide on an accountability plan.
    How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!
    🤝 Get support from your peers. 
    There are thousands of students all over the world who are preparing for their AP exams just like you! Join our Discord channel to chat, ask questions, and meet other students who are also studying for the spring exams. You can even build study groups and review material together! 

    2021 AP Physics 2 Study Plan

    💧 Unit 1: Fluids

    The very first unit of AP Physics 2 begins with a look at fluids. In the first-year physics course, we mostly looked into the kinematics, dynamics, and interactions of solids. We often ignored the internal aspects of the system and considered the object as ideal and non-deformable. We begin this course by looking at fluids, which consist of gases and liquids, and their interactions🌪️

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    🔥 Unit 2: Thermodynamics

    Now we turn our attention towards energy ✨You are probably already familiar with many types of energies like kinetic, potential, and gravitational. In this unit, we will introduce the idea of thermal energy. We will learn about heat, pressure, and volume. Gases will finally get a chance to shine, and solids and liquids will get some rest. Without thermodynamics, we would not have refrigerators or air conditioners. So, it is safe to say that it is a very important topic to study🤓

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    ⚡️ Unit 3: Electric Force, Field, and Potential

    In a general physics course, there are 2 broad topics that you cover: Mechanics️ and Electromagnetism. In between, or in other classes, you might also learn about thermodynamics, fluids, sound, waves, optics, modern physics, etc. In AP Physics 2, you're supposed to learn a lot about electromagnetism 🔋 along with fluids, thermodynamics, optics, and modern physics. Electromagnetism is an incredibly important topic in Physics. That's why we will break it down and learn about it in 3 units: electricity, circuits, and magnetism.

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    💡 Unit 4: Electric Circuits

    Electric Charge is a property of matter that causes it to feel a force in an electromagnetic field. The electric charge must be conserved. The entire topic of current and circuits is based upon the principle of conservation of charge. We learned about the charge and its conservation in the last unit. In this unit, we will focus more on current and how it relates to conservation of charge. There are 2 other important quantities used along with voltage to describe the features of a circuit: current and resistance

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    🧲 Unit 5: Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction

    Welcome to Unit 5! Here we'll take a look at how magnets work, as well as investigate the relationship between electricity and magnetism. This topic is the foundation of most of our modern world. It allows us to create electricity, use electric motors, and make speakers, computers, and cell phones all work.

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    🔍 Unit 6: Geometric and Physical Optics

    Waves! If you’ve taken AP Physics 1, chances are that you’re pretty familiar with the subject. In Physics 2, Unit 6 focuses on electromagnetic waves, primarily light (which, yes, is technically considered both a wave and a particle). For this unit, we’ll mainly explore the different ways light can be thought about and modeled.

    📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    ⚛️ Unit 7: Quantum, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics

    You made it to the very last unit of AP Physics 2. Congrats!

     📚Definitely read these study guides:

    Resources:

    Check this out!

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