Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to take a course?
How long does it take to complete a course?
What is the difference between taking these courses and hiring an online tutor?
How do I know if I'm ready for AP* Physics?
When should I begin a course?
How many hours per week should I plan to spend on each course?
If I don't need instruction on the entire course, can I purchase one unit at a time? 
What are the computer requirements for the courses?
What kind of calculator will I need?
Is there a lab component to the courses?
Should I take notes when I'm watching the presentations?
Do I receive a grade for these courses?
How are the assessments (quizzes and tests) evaluated?
Do I need to purchase a textbook to take a course?
What should I expect when I take an AP* Physics Test in May?
How are the AP* Physics Exams structured?

 

How much does it cost to take a course?
     The price for the Physics 1 course is $150 for one year of access to the course materials. This course has 7 units of study. The price for the Physics 2 course is $150 for one year of access to the course materials. This course has 5 units of study.
     The price for either of the Physics C courses is $150 for one year of access to the course materials. The Physics C Mechanics course has 7 units of study, and the Physics C E/M course has 6 units of study.
     Discounts are available for multi-user subscriptions as would be appropriate for high schools and homeschool associations.

How long does it take to complete a course?
     The Physics 1 course is designed to be completed over approximately 27 weeks. The Physics 2 course takes about 25 weeks to complete, but dedicated students can easily take both Physics 1 and Physics 2 in the same school year. Each of the Physics C courses is designed to be completed in one semester. Of course, the rate at which a student moves through a course can be quite variable. It would be unwise to rush through any of the courses, as long term comprehension will suffer if the concepts are learned at too quick a pace.  Remember it's the "Big Ideas" that you want to absorb.

What is the difference between taking these courses and hiring an online tutor?
     The biggest differences are effectiveness, quality, and cost.  Online tutoring is hit and miss when it comes to qualifications of the tutors.  Some companies hire tutors from outside the United States who are not certified to teach in this country and have had no experience in an actual classroom.  Others hire what are the equivalent of substitute teachers.  Teaching AP* Physics is a highly specialized skill that can only be mastered after many years presenting the material to various types of learners. Additionally, when you hire an online tutor, you generally pay by the hour. In order to learn all the information needed to do well on the AP* Physics exams, you would have to spend thousands of dollars to cover all the topics called for by the College Board...and even then you might not be guided by someone who has actually taught these courses over many years.

How do I know if I'm ready for one of these Physics courses?
     There are three important qualifications for taking these courses.  The first is mathematical proficiency.  In order to do well in Physics 1 or Physics 2 the student must be able to manipulate equations algebraically, be comfortable with introductory level trigonometry, and understand foundational math concepts like logarithms.  These are topics usually covered in a traditional high school Algebra 2 course. The Physics C courses require a working knowledge of calculus.  The student must be comfortable with basic differentiation and integration like that learned in AP* Calculus AB or an equivalent course.  To determine your mathematical preparedness you can take our math proficiency tests (click here).  The second qualification is a basic knowledge of atoms and molecules such as that learned in a high school chemistry class.  The final qualification is the willingness to work hard.  Learning physics is a challenge for many students. And it's easy to give up before the rewards of knowledge kick in...but if a student is willing to keep trying, even when the work is challenging, the benefits are numerous and long-lasting.

When should I begin a course?
     A student can begin a course any time during the year.  But since the AP* Physics test is usually administered during the second week of May, it would be wise to begin far enough in advance of that date to be fully prepared. If you plan to use our course as support for a traditional course you are currently taking, then you can begin the courses when needed. 

How many hours per week should I plan to spend on each course?
     Typically students taking an AP* Physics course spend 4 to 5 hours per week in the classroom and an additional 3 to 4 hours per week doing homework.  Since our prep courses are modeled on actual AP* Physics courses, you should expect to spend around that same amount of time.  Each student is unique, however, and has their own level of efficiency when learning physics, so the time frames given above should only be considered average. 

If I don't need instruction on the entire course, can I purchase one unit at a time?
     The website is not set up to handle individual unit purchases. The courses are integrated unit to unit and require access to, and knowledge of, all previous units to make complete sense.  There may be some students who are taking our course at the same time they are taking a traditional high school or college course and want to experience only selected lessons at our website as a supplement. That would probably work fine, but in order to obtain this sort of support at any point during the semester, you need to have access to our entire course, as you never know where the "sticking points" will pop up.

What are the computer requirements for the courses?
     There are three types of files your computer needs to process if you are to get the most out of our courses.  They are streaming video files, Flash animations, and Java-based animations. You can test your computer's capabilities by clicking here.  If you cannot utilize the streaming video files, you should not sign up for any of our courses. 

What kind of calculator will I need?
     Although not required, a graphing calculator (such as the one shown below) is suggested.  This type of calculator can perform all the calculations needed for our courses.


Is there a lab component to the courses?
     There are two types of lab exercises you will be asked to do during the work flow of our courses.  The first type is a virtual lab experience.  During these activities you will be directed to manipulate objects on the computer and measure the results of the interactions that you see.  You should record your results in a lab notebook and perform the analysis called for in the activity as you would during an actual lab.  Additionally, you will be asked to perfom lab activities with common items usually found in the home. It is very important that you perform all the labs requested in each unit. The College Board has placed a greater emphasis on lab work over the past few years and suggests that students maintain a working lab notebook that can be shown to college officials to ensure that lab work was a part of your preparation for the exam.

Should I take notes when I'm watching the presentations?
     Yes, you should treat the presentations as live lectures.  Nothing replaces the act of writing for long-term storage of ideas. Additionally, it is much easier to refer to your notes when preparing for a quiz, test, or even the AP* exam.  The advantage of having the video presentations is that you can watch them as often as you like in case some aspect of the lecture was not clear the first time. To fully engage in the learning process, however, a student must actively take notes. 

Do I receive a grade for these courses?
     No, you don't receive a grade for our self-pace online courses, but you can keep track of your progress and determine a "virtual grade" by taking the quizzes and summative tests associated with each unit. If you are interested in earning a grade as a homeschooler, click here.

How are the assessments (quizzes and tests) evaluated?
     After each assessment you will be shown the score you earned on any multiple choice questions and the solutions to the problems. For any test that has a "free-response" section you will be shown a scoring rubric that will help you determine the score you earned. 

Do I need to use a text book to take a course?
     It is highly recommended that you use a text book to supplement your work in this course.  Many appropriate physics text books can be puchased online (both "new" and "used") at many sites on the internet such as www.textbooks.com.  We recommend that you use the freee online physics texts at OpenStax, but as long as the book is meant for a college level course of the right type (Physics 1 and 2 with algebra and trigonometry or Physics C with calculus), you can find many end-of-chapter problems on which to practice.  The vast majority of books show the answers to the odd-numbered questions in the back of the book.  Because the topics covered in our courses have been taught for many years, even books that are decades old might still be appropriate as sources of practice problems.  We also strongly encourage you to consider purchasing an AP Physics soft-cover preparation book such as those published by the Princeton Review or Barron's. These are generally less expensive than a hard-cover physics text, but still provide lots of problems to practice what you learn during our presentations (along with sample AP* Tests that allow for simulated exam taking).
     The extra problems you will find in any suitable companion text are invaluable.  The workflow of our courses will give you the guidance that you will not find in any text or prep book, but to gain the confidence needed to score well on the AP* Physics test you must have access to lots and lots of practice problems. To see a list of suggested text books click here.

What should I expect when I take an AP* Physics Test in May?
     If you successfully complete all the activities called forth in the workflow of each unit of our prep course, you will definitely be prepared to perform at a high level on the AP* Physics exam. 

How are the AP* Physics Exams structured?
     The AP* Physics exams are a combination of multiple-choice and free-response questions.  They are timed and considered to be difficult.  The AP* Physics 1 and AP* Physics 2 tests are three hours in length and composed of 50 multiple-choice questions (90 minutes) followed by 5 free-response questions for Physics 1 (90 minutes) or 4 Free-Response questions for Physics 2. The scores for each section are equally weighted and then combined to produce a raw composite score with a maximum value of 180 points. Both AP* Physics C exams are composed of 35 multiple-choice questions (45 minutes) followed by 3 free-response questions (45 minutes). Thus the maximum raw composite score on each is 90 points. The questions on the tests are designed to assess the knowledge of the learner objectives published by the College Board. 

     Because there are a great number of objectives associated with each course, the breadth of the exams can be overwhelming for unprepared students.  Scores are given based on the following scale:
5 = Very Well Qualified
4 = Well Qualified
3 = Qualified
2 = Possibly Qualified
1 = No Recommendation
     These scores are based on a "scoring curve" that changes slightly from year to year. The College Board sets the testing policies of which you should be aware in a detailed way. It is stongly advised that you spend time at their website (click here to visit) prior to taking any AP* Test.
 

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