AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

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AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is an Advanced Placement science course about electromagnetism. Methods of calculus are used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. It is supposed to be equivalent to an introductory college course in electricity and magnetism for physics majors. This course, taken along with courses covering other areas, such as mechanics, waves, thermodynamics, and modern physics can help prepare students for the SAT Subject Test in Physics, also administered by College Board. This course is often combined with AP Physics C: Mechanics to make a unified Physics C course that prepares for both exams, or it may be a separate course. In the former scenario, Electricity and Magnetism is typically taught second, as it requires much of the knowledge gained in the Mechanics course.


The exam is configured in two categories, a thirty-five (35) question multiple choice section and a three (3) question free response section.[1] Test takers are allowed to use a calculator on the entire AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism exam – including both the multiple-choice and free response sections.[2] The test is weighted such that each section is worth fifty percent (50%) of the final score. It is the shortest AP exam currently administered, with total time at 90 minutes.

The topics covered by the exam are as follows:[3]

Topic Percent
Electrostatics 30%
Conductors, insulators, capacitors, dielectrics 14%
Electric circuits 20%
Magnetic fields 20%
Electromagnetism 16%


According to the College Board web site, "This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering."[4]

Grade distribution

The grade distributions for the Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism scores since 2010 were:

Score 2010[5] 2011[6] 2012[7] 2013[8] 2014[9] 2015[10] 2016[11]
5 32.0% 32.0% 35.1% 31.7% 33.5% 28.5% 32%
4 25.2% 24.5% 24.0% 24.1% 25.1% 24.9% 22.6%
3 13.1% 14.1% 13.9% 13.7% 12.2% 13.7% 13.5%
2 17.4% 17.7% 16.5% 19% 17.6% 19.8% 19.3%
1 12.3% 11.7% 10.5% 11.6% 11.6% 13.1% 12.6%
Mean 3.47 3.47 3.57 3.46 3.51 3.36 3.42
Number of Students 14,191 15,185 17,380 19.380 20,765


Recently changed from 2006, College Board requires test-takers to pay separately for the Mechanics part and the Electricity and Magnetism part. Previously, test-takers paid only once and were given the choice of taking either one or two parts of the Physics C test.


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