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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

03165 AP Physics 1

Field of Study

Physics is the study of matter and energy and their behaviors and interactions.

Material Covered

The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It also introduces electric circuits. The content for the course is based on six big ideas:

  1. Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure. 
  2. Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.
  3. The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces. 
  4. Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems. 
  5. Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws. 
  6. Waves can transfer energy and momentum from one location to another without the permanent transfer of mass and serve as a mathematical model for the description of other phenomena.

Student Expectations

Students will complete a variety of assignments throughout the course. They will participate in discussion boards, interact with simulations, complete practice problems, and perform hands-on and virtual labs that meet the laboratory objectives for AP Physics as required by the College Board. Student work will be required outside of class time.

Additional Information

AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based course equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics, but designed to be taught over a full academic year to enable AP students to develop deep understanding of the content and to focus on applying their knowledge through inquiry labs.

Related Requirements

At the end of this course, students will be prepared to take the AP Physics 1 test, and are expected (but not required) to do so.


  • Required: Successful completion of Geometry and concurrent enrollment in Algebra II.

Course Texts and Materials

  • Either of the following:
  • An AP review book. Two good examples:
    • 5 Steps to a 5 AP Physics 1
      Author: Greg Jacobs
      ISBN: 1259863332
      Publisher: McGraw Hill Education
    • AP Physics 1 Essentials
      Author: Dan Fullerton
      ISBN: 0990724308
      Publisher: Silly Beagle Productions
    • Note: Any edition or even a different review book will work. Just be sure it is for AP Physics 1 and not AP Physics B.
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