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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Revamped AP Physics approved by College Board

After much deliberation about the Advanced Placement Physics course at the school last year, the school appealed to the College Board and was approved to teach a two-year AP Physics course in one year.

“We weren’t certain the College Board would approve us teaching [AP Physics] in one year because they made it a two-year class,” said AP Physics teacher Kirk Davis. “Plus, the previous plan to open a two-year course would have deterred students mainly interested in taking the class for some exposure to physics.”

The class syllabus was submitted to the College Board in March, and while waiting for approval, the school submitted Physics Honors in case the preferred plan didn’t work out.

The next step was discussing with the University of California to see how it and other colleges would view the class, said Davis.

In order to clarify to colleges that students have taken both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 in one year, each semester of the class will show up separately on students’ transcripts.

Davis said the UCs and other colleges will give the student only one year of physics credit, but a student’s transcript will show that he or she has taken two full years of content.

Also, according to Davis, the curriculum of the course has not gone through much change from previous years. The only change is that an additional chapter about rotational dynamics will be taught and tested this year.

Not only did the College Board separate the AP Physics B course into a two-year class last year, but the board also split the AP Physics test into two separate tests.

Other than the addition of rotational dynamics to the curriculum, the only other change is the structure of the AP test itself. Now, students will no longer have to memorize 40 formulas; rather, they will be given the formulas and have to apply them to more advanced, two-step problems. And a calculator may be required.

The number of problems on the AP test has also been cut from 70 questions to 50.

“There was real time pressure [on the old AP test], and you had to recall all the formulas,” Davis said. “It was an exercise not in pure physics in many ways. They are trying to make it much more physics based.”

The goals of the class have also changed; now, students start with big ideas and have to learn to apply them, Davis said. But he said they are not as technical as they used to be.

In the free-response portion, for example, there will be more questions in which students have to justify answers in a paragraph.

AP Physics students feel most strongly about the split of the AP test. Some agree with the decision to split the test in two and believe it will be beneficial.

I think the two tests make it better because then each test will concentrate on sections of physics that are closely related to another. This would help me do better on the test,” junior Josh Dey said.

Junior Maya Sripadam thinks the changes to the testing are somewhat unfair.

“I'm not a fan of the situation because as far as I know we are still getting the same amount of credits as any other AP level science — and they are only taking one test,” Sripadam said.

How does Davis feel about the testing changes?

“Instead of three hours of fun, they get six hours of fun now at the end of the year,” Davis said.

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