AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based is a second-year
physics course designed for high school students in grade 12 who
have completed AP Physics 1. The course covers topics and
concepts typically included in the second semester of an
algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course. Topics
include fluid statics & fluid dynamics, thermal physics &
thermodynamics, electricity & magnetism (including RC circuits
and electromagnetic induction), light & optics, and modern
(quantum, atomic & nuclear) physics. The course focuses on
high-level understanding of concepts, experimental design and
critical thinking, and prepares students for the AP Physics 2 exam
The purpose of this chapter is to familiarize you with mathematical concepts and skills that will be needed in physics.
Standard Assumptions in Physics discusses what you can and cannot assume to be true in order to be able to solve the problems you will encounter in this class.
Assigning & Substituting Variables discusses how to determine which quantity and which variable apply to a number given in a problem based on the units, and how to choose which formula applies to a problem.
The Metric System and Scientific Notation briefly review skills that you are expected to remember from your middle school math and science classes.
Trigonometry, Vectors, Vectors vs. Scalars in Physics, and Vector Multiplication discuss important mathematical concepts that are widely used in physics, but may be unfamiliar to you.
Depending on your math background, some of the topics, such as trigonometry and vectors, may be unfamiliar. These topics will be taught, but in a cursory manner.
Skills learned & applied in this chapter:
Estimating uncertainty in measurements
Propagating uncertainty through calculations
Identifying quantities in word problems and assigning them to variables
Choosing a formula based on the quantities represented in a problem
Using trigonometry to calculate the lengths of sides and angles of triangles
Representing quantities as vectors
Adding and subtracting vectors
Multiplying vectors using the dot product and cross product
Massachusetts Frameworks (2006):
No MA curriculum frameworks are specifically addressed in this chapter. However, this chapter addresses the following mathematical understandings explicitly listed in the MA Curriculum Frameworks as prerequisites for this course:
Construct and use tables and graphs to interpret data sets.
Solve simple algebraic expressions.
Perform basic statistical procedures to analyze the center and spread of data.
Measure with accuracy and precision (e.g., length, volume, mass, temperature, time)
Convert within a unit (e.g., centimeters to meters).
Use common prefixes such as milli-, centi-, and kilo-.
Use scientific notation, where appropriate.
Use ratio and proportion to solve problems.
In addition, this chapter addresses the following mathematical understandings. The MA frameworks state that “the following skills are not detailed in the Mathematics Framework, but are necessary for a solid understanding in this course.”
Determine the correct number of significant figures.
Determine percent error from experimental and accepted values.
Use appropriate metric/standard international (SI) units of measurement for mass (kg); length (m); time (s); force (N); speed (m/s); acceleration (m/s2); frequency (Hz); work and energy (J); power (W); momentum (kg·m/s); electric current (A); electric potential difference/voltage (V); and electric resistance (Ω).