— Understanding connections of physics to other disciplines and to societal issues The first three of these goals are appropriate for the AP and introductory-level college physics courses that should, in addition, provide a background for the attainment of the fourth goal . The AP Physics Exams have always emphasized achievement of the first two goals . Over the years, the definitions of basic knowledge of the discipline and problem solving have evolved . The AP Physics courses have reflected changes in college courses, consistent with our primary charge . We have increased our emphasis on physical intuition, experimental investigation, and creativity . We include more open- ended questions in order to assess students’ ability to explain their understanding of physical concepts . We structure questions that stress the use of mathematics to illuminate the physical situation rather than to show manipulative abilities . The committee is dedicated to developing exams that can be graded fairly and consistently and that are free of ethnic, gender, economic, or other bias . We operate under practical constraints of testing methods, allotted time and large numbers of students at widely spread geographical locations . In spite of these constraints, the committee strives to design exams that promote excellent and appropriate instruction in physics . T H E C O U R S E S The AP Physics Exams are designed to test student achievement in the AP Physics courses described in this book . These courses are intended to be representative of courses commonly offered in colleges and universities, but they do not necessarily correspond precisely to courses at any particular institution . The aim of an AP
5 © 2012 The College Board. Visit the College Board on the Web: . secondary school course in physics should be to develop the students’ abilities to do the following: 1 . Read, understand, and interpret physical information — verbal, mathematical, and graphical 2 . Describe and explain the sequence of steps in the analysis of a particular physical phenomenon or problem; that is, a . describe the idealized model to be used in the analysis, including simplifying assumptions where necessary; b . state the concepts or definitions that are applicable; c . specify relevant limitations on applications of these principles; d . carry out and describe the steps of the analysis, verbally, or mathematically; and e . interpret the results or conclusions, including discussion of particular cases of special interest 3 . Use basic mathematical reasoning — arithmetic, algebraic, geometric, trigono- metric, or calculus, where appropriate — in a physical situation or problem 4 . Perform experiments and interpret the results of observations, including making an assessment of experimental uncertainties In the achievement of these goals, concentration on basic principles of physics and their applications through careful and selective treatment of well-chosen areas is more important than superficial and encyclopedic coverage of many detailed topics . Within
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