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The complete calculator policy and a list of acceptable models is available for viewing. In , the AP Physics 1 exam held the distinction of having both the lowest pass rate and the lowest high-score rate of any other AP exam. Only Nearly a third of all test-takers received the lowest score possible, a one. For this reason, you will need to make sure that you study the material thoroughly, using all possible means to master your skills and grasp the big ideas before exam day. A full course description that can help to guide your studying and understanding of the knowledge required for the exam can be found in the College Board course description.

You can find sample questions with scoring explanations included in the course description and more available in a separate Sample Questions AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 Exams booklet. You may also find practice or diagnostic exams in many of the commercial study guides. The theory that you will need to know for AP Physics 1 ranges in depth from very broad topics to the application of specific equations. To focus your studying, you should begin with the big ideas and narrow in on each one individually. The following are the big ideas for the AP Physics 1 exam:.

You will use these big ideas in conjunction with the seven science practices. Teachers use these practices and inquiry-based learning to promote a more engaging and rigorous experience for AP Physics students. Using the science practices, you will establish lines of evidence and use them to develop and refine testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena.

The seven science practices challenge you to:. For a more specific idea of where to focus your studying, you may consider using an updated commercial study guide. Because the AP Physics 1 course was redesigned in , you will need to use material produced since then to get the most accurate idea of course curriculum and design.

Additionally, there are a number of free study resources available online. Many AP teachers have posted complete study guides, review sheets, and test questions. There are also video tutorials for each unit and free response explanations available for free from Khan Academy. Another new, fun way to study is to use one of the recently developed apps for AP exams. Make sure you read reviews before choosing one — their quality varies widely.

One that does receive good reviews is the McGraw Hill 5 , which also saves you some money by covering 14 different AP subjects. Finally, make sure to familiarize yourself with the tools that will be available to you during the exam. Make sure that you know how to use your calculator effectively. Also, review the table of equations that will be furnished to you during the exam. Practice some multiple-choice questions to put your knowledge to the test and to fine-tune your test-taking skills. You can find these in most study guides or through online searches.

You could also try taking the multiple-choice section of another practice exam. The College Board Course Description includes many practice multiple-choice questions along with explanations of their answers. As you go through these, try to keep track of which areas are still tripping you up, and go back over this theory again. Focus on understanding what each question is asking, and keep a running list of any vocabulary that is still unfamiliar.

There are three different types of questions in the AP Physics 1 free-response section. The first type consists of short-answer questions, one of which will demand a paragraph-length response. This is a specific clue from the College Board about the type of response you will need to produce for full credit.

A handout from the College Board explains that paragraph-length responses ask you to demonstrate an ability to communicate your understanding of a physical situation in a reasoned, expository analysis. In AP Physics 1, the argument may include diagrams, graphs, equations, and perhaps calculations to support the line of reasoning, but it should be based primarily on strongly written analysis without extraneous detail.

Another portion of the free-response section tasks you with evaluating an experimental design. You will need to be familiar with your own lab investigations and draw upon your real world experience in inquiry-based instruction to design an experiment, justify your design, describe your measurements, and critique the value of your hypothetical results.

In this section, you will make a qualitative judgment about which physical principles apply to a given situation, and then use these principles quantitatively to solve an equation. Often, you will take your thinking one step further and infer how the equation might apply to other, similar situations. Exam readers will expect that you pay close attention to the task verbs used in the free-response prompts.

On the AP Physics 1 exam these most commonly include: describe, explain, justify, calculate, derive, determine, sketch, plot, draw, label, design, or outline. Know precisely what each one of these words is asking you to do. The definitions of these words can be found beginning on page of the course description. Underline each section of the question, circle the task verb, and check them off as you write. Many students lose points by simply forgetting to include one part of a multi-part question.

Remember that credit for the answers depends on the quality of the solutions and the explanations given; partial solutions may receive partial credit, so you should show all your work. Correct answers without supporting work may not earn full credit. But if you get tripped up. All the result of feeling the pressure of being JUDGED on your ability to write a few things on a piece of paper in the correct manner. This means: practice exams replicating, as closely as possible, the exact conditions you expect to see on the exam.

To see how, check out Day 5 of the 5-Day Study course. Time Warrior , by Steve Chandler. How to wake up early using Buffer. Beeminder and CIG podcast with their team. How to break down practice problems. How We Learn , by Benedict Carey. A Mind for Numbers , by Barbara Oakley. Pyramid vs. Fork Classes. Better Explained from Kalid Azad. Reverse Learning Technique Example. The part of this article that really stood out to me was the types of classes.

I do really well in a pyramid class because I build metaphorical momentum really easily.


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When I have to start over from scratch with every new chapter, I burn out really fast, especially in technically intense classes like physics. Learn how to beat procrastination, get focused, and put in the work, knowing it will pay off on your next exam. A repeated mistake is the worst kind. Mind relaxed. Outside every day working.

Much more hellish and stressful. The pain of being stuck in a bad cycle, physically and mentally, despite my best efforts. You just came off of exams and got your final grades for better or worse. We start to mentally move on — to the things summer is made of: friends, family, internships, summer jobs, vacations… A much needed break from the intensity of focus from the semester. Or will you forget all of the mistakes you made and problems you created for yourself?

Yes vacations and jobs are awesome! But in many ways they distract us from what happened last semester. We start to feel okay again, and assume that things will be better. Have you made any changes to your schedule?

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Have you invested in creating productive habits and routines? Or are you just hoping that things will be different this time around? The problem sets were starting to pile up. The projects were starting. And, surprise surprise, the first set of exams were right around the corner… Photo: memeblender This is what happens: Get super enthusiastic at the beginning of the semester.

Everyone else is energized too, so you start talking about doing cool side projects, landing jobs at the career fair. So many cool opportunities. In comparison, studying seems so… blah. And despite your best interests, your friends start to dictate your schedule. Browsing reddit and Facebook have started to creep their way in to your study sessions, looking to keep that cycle of excitement going… Your professors start introducing the big projects, and make first mention of what will be on… wait for it… EXAM 1.

How can we have an exam already? It hits you like a ton of bricks. Anxious panic. Jump right back in to what you know best — i. Here come the cram sessions at the library , late nights finishing project reports and problem sets, and the cycle starts all over again. How would it feel? You want to do well in classes. Other answers from your fellow readers include… Reading hundreds of books Time to go to the gym Actually making a schedule that I follow through the semester instead of getting off track Spending the time to make a condensed notebook with all the important formulas and other key concepts Understanding any given topics fast enough and keep up in class, and being able to APPLY any of those topic Getting admitted to the best graduate institutions in the country Time to dedicate to volunteer work and charity Time to expand my network Damn that would be nice!

I knew my friends were struggling with the same thing. We start to lose motivation. Photo: memestorage Which is exactly what I did at the start of Sophomore year. The problem is, succeeding in your classes each semester is a long game.

Simple enough to say, but hard as shit to actually do. So what to do? Well to start off, why does motivation matter in the first place? In a way, we sabotage ourselves with our own story we create for ourselves in our head. Tools and Tricks Now, principles are great, but where would we be without some super-sweet tools to help us get it done. Is your professor simply unbearable? Is the textbook super boring? His conclusion? So what? Seems weird. But even if we agree, why should we care? Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right. Think for a minute.

What happens in lecture though? No challenge. No mystery. Lessons Learned Your brain is not designed for learning. Slow down and stop trying to rush through to the answer. So funny thing? Yeaaaa… would have been nice to know thattttt. The theme for this section? Like we said before, change grabs your attention. You actually benefit from switching it up. Sounds stoic. Such a noble sacrifice in the name of learning. Diffuse thinking, on the other hand, is more loosey-goosey.

There you go. License to procrastinate productively … Quitting on Your Schoolwork Similarly, it might also be a good idea to not finish your work. Lessons Learned Much of the guilt we feel about not concentrating, not feeling like we understand the material well enough, procrastinating, and being distracted is actually misplaced. Instead, we should focus on being honest with ourselves and strategically employing testing, breaks, and distractions to our benefit.

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Flipping between different subjects can actually aid the learning process , creating more robust knowledge than focusing just on simple repetition. Procrastination is an effective problem solving strategy if used at the right time. A big assignment or project is much better served by working on it in fits and starts than setting aside long periods of work to get it all done at once. The Trifecta of Building Knowledge: How to think about thinking Now yes, a lot of our issues have to do with motivation, energy, and procrastination, but what about the subject matter itself?

So real quick. Not to brag, but I did pretty well in engineering school… Want to know a secret though? And how do they know so much more than me? I never really saw them in any of my classes… Then I started listening a little more closely. Why does this happen?

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But when it all comes down to it, as Mr. Factual knowledge allows you to more quickly whip out symbols and equations, which enables you to… Accumulate more procedural knowledge by breaking down problem-solving methods and solving your own problems from scratch. Lesson Learned Understanding something in theory says nothing about your ability to use in in practice.

You need both in order to be successful in your classes. Some, like Calc 1, can follow a fairly logical and flowing progression… Limits lead to derivatives, lead to more complex derivatives, eventually giving way to anti-derivatives and integrals. Others, like Physics 3, are all over the place.

Because once you move past the fundamentals, it starts to build up fast. Lesson Learned Different courses fit different models. How will your approach change depending on which type it is? Baseline vs. What if instead, you had a nice framework to fit it into? Lessons Learned We often fall into the trap of going to class and passively letting the professor dictate notes to us, that we copy into our notebook without second thought. This keeps us aware of the big picture as we learn what to do solving practice problems and which equations and variables are used when writing it out mathematically.

Afterwards check your understanding… How does it compare to what you thought you understood before? So what gives? Gimme the juicy stuff. Okay, okay… fine. The Consolidation Method… Turning traditional note-taking and studying on its head, into an efficient, semi-automated process for getting the stuff from lecture and the textbook into your head in an organized and effective way.


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Most note-taking is truly a complete waste of time. This is what I call Reverse Learning. But understanding is not enough. No textbooks, no example problems, no notes. This will be painful. This will be difficult. But this is the deep practice the experts in any field put in to build their skills. We also cover this on Day 3 of the 5-Day Study Course. Ah yes… The final leg of our journey. The thing we allll fear and obsess about. Photo: quickmeme All the result of feeling the pressure of being JUDGED on your ability to write a few things on a piece of paper in the correct manner.

First Semester Physics Survival Guide | T.H. Cooke

Ultimately I gutted it out. But it was far from enjoyable. You spend your afternoons working through homework problem sets in short bursts, stopping when you get stuck, switching topics, and possibly even returning to it the next day, letting your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting instead of banging your head against the wall. You get super interested in the research one of your engineering professors is doing on piezoelectric materials, and volunteer to go help out.

You also start reading more widely about new renewable technologies and exciting new applications. And ultimately, your grades and assignments are no longer these high-energy, somewhat-terrifying events, but are just part of the process. You know if you keep following your routine, and stick to the learning principles you now embody, everything will fall into place in due course.