AP Physics B Preview

What is the difference between AP Physics B and C?

  • B covers all (=about 5) topics shallowly.  C covers only two topics deeply
  • B uses only algebra and trigonometry.  C uses calculus (derivatives and integrals)
  • B covers everything that appears in the SAT Physics.  C does not.

What is the difference between Honor Physics and AP Physics B?

Theoretically, what is taught in Honor Physics should cover all the topics that appear in the SAT Physics.  Honor Physics does not have a test in May therefore teacher/students can adjust the pace and depth of their studies to suit everyone’s learning speed and style.

This flexibility always ends up reducing the scope and depth of the course.  In fact, Sabio Academy has never seen any Honor Physics course teaching even half of what appears in the SAT Physics test.  If you are in Honors Physics, you will be introduced to the world of physics.  But don’t expect to show your knowledge in any of the standardized tests.  If you are aiming for top universities, you should go straight into AP Physics B.  If you feel you have no talent for physics, then prepare yourself with a course like this one during the summer.

I heard that Physics is hard.  Is that true?

Anyone who can ride a bicycle have mastered Mechanics which is about 1/4 of Physics B.  And you already know a great deal about fluid dynamics as well as thermodynamics at a similarly intuitive level.  This would add up to about 1/3 of Physics B as a “common sense.”

However, you will need to express this common sense in a new language: mathematics.  It is here that many students stumble.  If you were bad with word problems, you will have difficulties in physics because physics problems are 100% word problems.

Make sure you master first and second degree equations, trigonometry, and parametric equations before you start physics.  And also, make sure to find a teacher who can connect all these equations to your common sense.  If the teacher is good, you will find yourself saying “obviously.”

Why is this course called “preview”?

Because this course is meant to introduce you to physics during the summer.

Physics and Geometry are two courses that some students unexpectedly hit a block.  It is hard to predict who will be caught because even those who were getting straight “A”s in math often fall in this trap.  Worse, usually it is too late when you find out because physics would just march on changing its topics radically every few weeks.  Soon as you think you got a hang of mechanics, the topic will change into electricity, then onto fluid, then onto heat, then onto optics…

The best way is to preview these two courses before you take them at school, preferably with a teacher who connect your common sense knowledge to these formulas and equations.

Once you learn how to run thought experiments, then you will be able to turn the rest of your common sense into the language of physics on your own.

 How is this course taught?

This course is taught as a live class via the Internet.  You will see and talk to the teacher and your classmates as if everyone is in the same room by using WebEx software and webcams.  This means you can take this course anywhere in the world that the Internet access.

All classes are recorded and provided for download/replay by the students.  By downloading it, you can keep and review the lectures indefinitely.

We also offer pre-recorded lectures we call e-Learning.  These are lectures are short (under 5 minutes) and to the point without any distractions.  These lectures also use animations and simulations extensively to make understanding intuitive and instinctive.  A large part of teaching will be done by this e-Learning and students are expected to study them before joining the class.

Students learn physics entire year in school.  How can you cover everything by teaching only for a few weeks?

This course does not intend to teach all topics. And this course is not meant to replace school’s course.  This is only a preview.

We will cover the first and the most mathematical part Mechanics.  This will teach you how to transform common sense into equations.  You can apply this knowledge for the rest of the course in your school.

Will there be homework?

Most definitely.  Some will be online homework that is automatically graded and others will be graded manually.

How many hours each day do I need to spend to study for this course?

Learning happens not when you are listening to lectures, but when you are thinking for yourself. We expect students to spend from 1 to 2 hours a day on their own to study outside the class time.

Will I be able to get a 5 (perfect score) after taking this course?

No, not with this preview course.  You will need to continue learning the rest of Physics B to score a 5.

What are the requirements for this course?

  1. You must have a headset communicate with the teacher.
  2. You must have a tablet to write during the class
  3. You must have a webcam (any brand will work) to show your attitude to the teacher and classmates.
  4. You must have finished Trigonometry and Precalculus.  You must be particularly strong in Logarithms, Polynomials and Trigonometry.

Who is teaching this course?

The instructor is James Choi.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

Yes. they are listed below.  We use three low priced books to encourage students to own a handy physics library as explained this column: Have a Personal Textbook Library On The Cheap

The materials taught in AP Physics B didn’t change much for the last 50 years.  Thus using a book published 20 years ago won’t make any difference.  All of the books below are under $5.  It is always to better have multiple reference books because invariably you will find some book easier to understand than others depending the chapter.

  1. Physics: Principles with Applications by Giancoli 5th Edition
  2. College Physics by Serway 6th Edition
  3. College Physics by Knight

Are there any supplementary materials that you recommend?

Yes, we recommend the following courses from The Great Courses.  These two video courses are great in showing what physics is about and what physics can do.  However, they do not use any mathematics because it is intended for the general audience.  Therefore, these two won’t prepare you for any tests.

Do I need to use Mathematica for this class?

No.  Mathematica is not used by students in this course and you are not expected to know how to use it or have it.  But the teacher will use it to show animations to explain concepts.

How long is the course ans when does it start?

They are 20 sessions  (= 5 times a week for 4 weeks) of 90 minutes each (30 hours)

How much is the tuition and how do I enroll in this course?

This course is currently not scheduled.  We will announce via our newsletter when this course is scheduled to run.  Subscribe for free now.


  1. Describing Motion: Kinematics in One Dimension
  2. Kinematics in Two Dimensions; Vectors
  3. Dynamics: Newton’s Laws of Motion
  4. Circular Motion; Gravitation
  5. Work and Energy
  6. Linear Momentum
  7. Rotational Motion
  8. Vibrations and Waves