AP Physics 1 Exam Format

Do you want to understand about the format and organization of the AP Physics 1 exam? One of the primary reasons students perform well on the AP Physics 1 exam is their familiarity with the exam structure. The AP Physics 1 exam structure, like other AP exams, is aligned with the course curriculum.

You can better prepare for the exam if you know what to expect in terms of the number of sections, amount of questions, time given, and weighting of the individual components. Knowing what to expect on the exam prevents you from being taken off guard. To perform well on the exam, you must be familiar with its format. You may approach it with complete confidence in what you have learnt and anticipate to confidently answering each question.

Registration Course List / AP Physics

What is the format of the AP Physics 1 examination?

The AP Physics 1 exam will assess your understanding of three key parts of the course: scientific methods, significant ideas, and unit teaching. Each question on the exam focuses on one or more science practices, assessing your grasp of the numerous ideas covered in the course. The AP Physics 1 exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and free response questions (FRQs). Each component contributes 50% of the overall exam score.

The AP Physics 1 exam will examine your knowledge of three major course components: scientific techniques, significant ideas, and unit teaching. Each test question focuses on one or more science activities, evaluating your understanding of the many concepts presented in the course.

The AP Physics 1 exam is broken into two sections: multiple choice questions (MCQs) and free response questions (FRQs). Each component accounts for 50% of the overall exam score.

Section Number of question Score weight Total time
Section  1A:

Single-Select MCQ

45 50% 1 hour and 30 min
Section  1B:

Multi-Select MCQ

5 50% 1 hour and 30 min
Section  2

Free response question

5 50 1 hour 30 min


Now that you’ve got a quick introduction to the AP Physics 1 exam style, let’s look more closely at each area of the exam.

Section I: Multiple-choice.

The multiple-choice part is the first one you’ll see on the AP Physics 1 exam. Unlike most other AP science tests, this part has two types of multiple-choice questions. There are two types of multiple-choice questions: single-select and multiple-select. Both questions have four possible answers.

Single-select MCQs will have only one correct answer choice from the available possibilities. This sort of inquiry might be discrete, i.e., one question, or a collection of two or three questions. A set of questions presents a specific scenario with supporting data, such as tables or graphs, when appropriate, and then asks two or three related discrete questions based on that information.

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Multiple-select MCQs will have two correct answer selections from the options provided. Questions of this sort are always discrete, which means you will only have one question to answer depending on the information provided.

As previously stated, the questions in this exam portion assess your proficiency in the science techniques taught throughout the course. The following is the weighting of each scientific exercise in Section 1 of the AP Physics.

Science Practice Exam Weight
1. Modeling 28–32%
2. Mathematical Routines 16–20%
3. Scientific Questioning N/A
4. Experimental Method 2–4%
5. Data Analysis 10–12%
6. Argumentation 24–28%
7. Making Connections 10–16%ics 1 test.


In addition to assessing your abilities in science procedures, you will be assessed on your understanding of the themes and ideas taught in the course’s seven modules. The following is the weight of each unit in Section 1 of the AP Physics 1 exam.

Unit Exam Weight
1. Kinetics 12–18%
2. Dynamics 16–20%
3. Circular Motion and Gravitation 6–8%
4. Energy 20–28%
5. Momentum 12–18%
6. Simple Harmonic Motion 4–6%
7. Torque and Rotational Motion 12–18%


Remember to keep these weightings in mind while studying and reviewing for the exam. With this knowledge, you may priorities which units and science activities to focus on. You may also plan how much time you’ll need for each unit depending on its relevance.

Given that you will have 50 questions to complete in 90 minutes, the maximum amount of time you may spend on each question is around a minute and a half. However, it is recommended that you answer each question in this part within one minute.

Pacing oneself for one minute every question ensures two things:

  1. You will have adequate time to devote to questions in sets since you may need to refer back to the provided material for clues.
  2. You will leave ample time at the conclusion of the session to go back and double-check your answers or retake any questions you may have missed.

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Remember that there are no penalties for wrong answers on Section 1 of the AP Physics 1 test. So, try to answer every question or at least estimate. You never know you could get it right and gain a point!

Check out our post on how to approach multiple-choice problems in AP Physics 1 to get a sense of what a question in this section may be like and to learn some useful tips and strategies.

Section II: Free-Response

The second component of the AP Physics 1 exam is the free-response section. This part has five free-response questions, which you must answer within 90 minutes. Answers in this area must be handwritten. The five questions will include two 12-point questions and three 7-point ones.

Unlike the MCQ portion, you will not be given any response options, and the only information you will need is provided in the question. Your responses will be examined and assessed by an AP Reader.

The AP Physics 1 exam includes four types of free-response questions. Here’s a breakdown of each sort of question, what it will assess, and how many points you may get.

Question Type & Parts No. of


Skills Assessed Points per



Experimental Design 3-5 question parts


  • Design and describe scientific investigations.
  • Analyze laboratory data.
  • Identify patterns
  • Explain phenomena


12 points
Qualitative/Quantittive Translation

3–5 question parts

  • Translate justifications and reasoning from Quantitative to qualitative and vice versa.


12 points


Paragraph Argument Short Answer

Question 1–3 question parts

  • Use paragraph form answers with coherent flow to arrive at a conclusion.
  • Questions will be based on physical phenomena So your understanding of it will be tested.
  • You must use information given in the question
7 points


Short Answer Question

1–3 question parts

  • Consists of two short-answer questions.
  • Will test your science practice skills and Theoretical knowledge.
7 points



Remember that these questions might appear in any sequence on the exam, not necessarily in the exact order that we have posted them. Except for the short-answer questions, which will be two in number, you will be given one of each category.

As previously stated, each question in this AP Physics 1 exam area will assess your proficiency in the approved science methods. Understanding the weighting of each science exercise in this part will help you prepare for the test. Here’s a table outlining the science procedures and weightings to expect.

Science Practice                            Exam Weight
1. Modeling                                                     22–36%
2. Mathematical Routines                               17–29%
3. Scientific Questioning                                 8–16%
4. Experimental Method                                  2–4%
5. Data Analysis                                              6–14%
6. Argumentation                                            17–29%
7. Making Connections                                    2–9%


You will need to create a study plan that effectively covers these courses and science methods well in advance of the exam. Remember to consider the weightings of science practices in each portion of the test when preparing.

You can prepare more effectively now that you are familiar with the AP Physics 1 exam format. When creating your AP Physics 1 exam study plan, refer back to this page for information on the different weightings in each unit.

You may also utilize online AP Physics 1 practice tests to evaluate your performance and discover areas for improvement. Each question on our practice exam has a full answer explanation. You may also highlight questions that you believe are significant and create flashcards to help you recall vital facts.