2021 AP Physics C: E&M Exam Guide

6 min readmarch 1, 2021

Your guide to the 2021 AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 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 C E&M 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! 😁

Format of the 2021 AP Physics C: E&M exam

This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 Physics C: E&M exam will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and the format will be:
Early May/ Late May (paper)
  • Section 1: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 35 questions to complete in 45 minutes
  • Section 2: Free Response (50% of score)
    • 3 questions to complete in 45 minutes
Early June (digital)
  • Section 1: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 35 questions to complete in 45 minutes
  • Section 2: Multiple Choice (50% of score)
    • 35 questions to complete in 45 minutes
    • The digital exam does not include any free response questions!

When is the 2021 AP Physics C E&M 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:
  • The first exam date is May 3, 2021 at 2 pm, your local time—this will be a paper test at your school.
  • The second exam date is May 25, 2021 at 8 am, your local time—this will be a paper test at your school.
  • The third and final exam date is June 10, 2021 at 12 pm EDT—this will be digital, in school or at home. 
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 C: Electricity and Magnetism 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 and practice. 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
  • Join our Discord channel to talk to real students just like you studying for this exam! We have TAs in each subject channel to support you this Spring. 
  • Finally, check out our live 5-Hour Cram Finale so that you can review for the AP Physics E&M exam with a rockstar teacher and study socially among other students! 🤓

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! 

AP Physics C E&M 2021 Study Plan

⚡️ Unit 1: Electrostatics

Electricity is everywhere! But what actually is electricity? In this unit, you’ll cover the basics of charge, and introduce the concepts of electrostatic force and electric potential difference. If you've taken AP 1 (or another physics course before) some of these concepts may be familiar, but this is the foundation for the entire course, so make sure to get it down!
📖Read these Fiveable study guides:
🎥 Watch these videos from College Board:

🔋 Unit 2: Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics

In this unit, you’ll cover how charge can move through an object. This includes covering conductors, which transfer charge, capacitors, which store charge, and dielectrics, which are insulators that become polarized in an electric field.
📖Read these Fiveable study guides:
🎥 Watch these videos from College Board:

🔌 Unit 3: Electric Circuits

Unit 3 is all about connecting electrical devices together. We'll look at different types of circuits, how to calculate the flow of electricity through a circuit, and do some analysis of the current, power, and potential difference in various locations in a circuit.
📖Read these Fiveable study guides:
🎥 Watch these videos from College Board:
✍️Practice using the progress check on AP Classroom!

🧲 Unit 4: Magnetic Fields

In previous units, we looked at how the electric field allows charged objects to interact without contact. In Unit 4, we'll take a look at magnetic fields, how they are created, and how they interact with electric fields. We'll cover how magnetic fields impact motion and interact with other magnetic fields.
📖Read these study guides:
🎥 Watch these videos:

⚛️ Unit 5: Electromagnetism

In this final unit, you’re going to take a look at how electric circuits can be used to create magnets. We'll look at several applications including motors, rail guns, and transformers. You’ll also take a brief look at Maxwell's Equations, four equations that set the basis for all of the E&M concepts we've covered in the course.
📖Read these study guides:
🎥 Watch these videos:

More Resources:

📖Read these study guides:

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