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How to Get a 5 in AP Physics C: E & M

4 min readโ€ขdecember 21, 2020

Riya Patel


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Searching for that 5? Put the flashlight down and try this instead! Image Courtesy of Unsplash

Are you searching for a 5๏ธโƒฃ in AP Physics C: E&M? This exam is one of the most difficult in the AP catalog, but if you get a 5, it has immense benefits! Only a select group of students earn this score on the exam. In 2020, 40% of exam takers scored a 5. Here are a few tips to become part of that percentage! ๐Ÿคซ

1. Know the Exam Format ๐Ÿ“–

Before starting your preparation for the exam, it is important to know what is tested. Hereโ€™s an overview!
Section 1: Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) ๐Ÿ‘†
  • You have 45 minutes to answer 35 MCQs
  • These will count as 50% of your total exam score
Section 2: Free Response Questions (FRQ) ๐Ÿ“
  • You have 45 minutes to answer 3 FRQs
  • These will count as 50% of your total exam score
Here is also a quick breakdown of what units are on the test:
Disclaimer: this information is found from College Board's website

Course content ๐Ÿ“š

UnitExam Weighting
Unit 1: Electrostatics26-34%
Unit 2: Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics14-17%
Unit 3: Electric Circuits17-23%
Unit 4: Magnetic Fields17-23%
Unit 5: Electromagnetism14-20%
As we look at the course content breakdown, you can identify the units which you should prioritize over others. For example, since 17%-23% of the multiple choice score focuses on Unit 3: Electric Circuits and 4: Magnetic Fields, you should make sure you nail that section down๐Ÿ”จ

2. Don't Procrastinate! Study All Year! โœ๏ธ

Prioritizing the AP exam throughout the year is important!
AP Physics C: E&M: Mechanics is one of the hardest AP courses offered at a high school level, so preparation throughout the year is a must to get that 5! Start practicing the concepts early, and donโ€™t procrastinate and cram the day before the exam ๐Ÿ˜–!
Throughout the year, as you learn the units, try and practice these concepts a little more until you gain mastery. Your unit exams will help you in applying these concepts and practicing early on!
In short, if you study a little bit every day, you'll be one step closer to that 5, and it'll be worth it! ๐Ÿ˜Š

3. Practice, Practice, and Practice! โœ๏ธ

As I said earlier, start practicing! Be consistent and set a timeline for yourself! ๐Ÿ“†Through this, youโ€™ll be able to be more comfortable with the examโ€™s format, especially the timing. Make sure you use questions and prompts from previous exams so that youโ€™re able to build upon your knowledge of the material. This will help you review everything you know and have learned in terms of physics!
๐Ÿ‘‰AP Classroom

4. Analyze Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To do exceptionally well on this exam, you will need to know how you learn and what's best for you. As you learn, make sure you analyze both your strengths and weaknesses.

What are you most comfortable with? ๐Ÿ™ƒ

  • As you study, write down topics that you feel you've mastered. By doing this, you are identifying what you already know, which can be a morale booster as well as it helps you know what you don't need to practice as much as other topics.

What do you need more time to practice? ๐Ÿคจ

  • Make sure to analyze which topics you need to practice more as you study. You can do this by writing down which topics you have the most trouble with when you take a unit test, practice AP test, or are just studying from a textbook.

How do you learn? ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

  • Are you someone who needs to watch videos and read content to help you learn? Do you need to practice the same method a few times to understand? Try to get a grasp of how you learn, which will help you personalize your learning in AP Physics C: E&M.

5. Know the FRQ Rubrics ๐Ÿ“‘โœ”๏ธ

Having a basic understanding of the FRQ rubric will help you greatly on the AP Physics C: E&M test, as the 3 FRQs are 50% of your test score. ๐Ÿ˜ณ You will need to make sure that you understand and can apply every aspect of this rubric on your test, as well as practice tests, to ensure you can get the highest score that you are capable of achieving. This is also very important as it is the same rubric that AP readers use to grade, which determines your score โ€ผ๏ธ๐Ÿคฏ

Final Thoughts

Some of these tips can help you start as you prepare for your AP exam! Remember to keep a schedule and balance your studying, as well as practice using real College Board tests and rubrics. Although this will seem intimidating at first, if you donโ€™t procrastinate and start the review process from the beginning of the year, youโ€™ll achieve your goal! ๐Ÿฅณ You can definitely get that 5, but always keep in mind that the end score doesn't define you! Good luck, you got this! ๐Ÿคฉ

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