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The Best AP Physics C: Mechanics Books for 2019

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Monday, Oct 15, 2018.

AP Physics C: Mechanics Overview

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a half-year course equivalent to a 1 semester introductory calculus-based college course. It covers kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum. AP Physics C: Mechanics is intended for students interested in pursuing a degree in physical sciences or engineering.

The AP Physics C: Mechanics course uses an extensive amount of calculus, so students should have taken or currently be enrolled in calculus courses.

We’ll cover the course, exams, and our picks for the best AP Physics C: Mechanics books, Flashcards, and Review Guides for test year 2019 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a great way to get a jump start on required Physics course requirements or general education credits for motivated students. Whatever your reasons for studying AP Physics C: Mechanics, we’re here to help you succeed!

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Course Summary

A full Course Description for AP Physics C: Mechanics is available from collegeboard.org.

AP Physics C: Mechanics students study 6 areas of content including:

  • Kinematics
  • Newton’s laws of motion
  • Work, energy and power
  • Systems of particles and linear momentum
  • Circular motion and rotation
  • Oscillations and gravitation

The course includes a strong lab component in which students develop skills in creating testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena. The development of these skills is achieved through requiring students to:

  • Design experiments
  • Observe and measure real phenomena
  • Organize, display, and critically analyze data
  • Analyze sources of error and determine uncertainties in measurement
  • Draw inferences from observations and data
  • Communicate results, including ways to improve experiments and questions for further study

AP Physics C: Mechanics courses are jam packed with information, so students are strongly advised to supplement their other course books with an AP specific prep book where possible.

Exam Summary

Students taking the AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam must demonstrate knowledge of the above mentioned concepts and themes.” The student’s mastery is assessed through a 90 minute exam containing questions in multiple choice and free response format. The exam is broken up into 2 sections (Multiple Choice and Free Response), each of which account for 50% of the final score.

Section 1: Multiple Choice

Part A (Multiple Choice):

  • 45 minutes long, with 35 multiple choice questions.
  • Questions are arranged both individually and in sets.
  • Accounts for 50% of the total score.

Points are awarded for each correct answer, and no points are subtracted for incorrect or unanswered questions.

Section 2: Free Response

  • 45 minutes long and contains 3 questions.
  • Laboratory based.
  • All questions are discrete and unrelated to each other.
  • Accounts for 50% of the total score.

Students are allowed to use a 4 function, scientific, or graphing calculator on the exam. See the Full College Board Calculator Policy for more information.

For exam dates, refer to The College Board AP Calendar.

Best AP Physics C: Mechanics Books

AP Physics C: Mechanics has several strong contenders for the best textbooks and review guides which we’ve ranked for you above. Continue on for detailed information on each one!

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C
2019 Edition
by Greg Jacobs
Price:$12.23
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Best overall resources.
Cons: Fewer practice tests than some books on this list.
Best For: Year-long supplement for other course texts.
Our Rating: 5 / 5

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C is our top pick for AP Physics C: Mechanics review guide. It takes our top spot due to its detailed and focused information, access to bonus online content, and realistic practice tests. The full list of features include:

  • 3 full-length practice exams.
  • Hundreds of practice exercises with thorough answer explanations.
  • Comprehensive overview of the AP Physics C exam format.
  • Free AP Planner App to help you plan your studies.

This subject has a number of strong entries on this list, but we feel 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C is your best bet all around. If you’ve used and enjoyed other 5 Steps to a 5 books, then we think you’ll love this one too.

Cracking the AP Physics C Exam

Cracking the AP Physics C Exam
2019 Edition
by Princeton Review
Price:$7.81
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Great self-assessment materials.
Cons: Wording can be confusing in some sections.
Best For: Complimenting required course textbooks for study throughout the course.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Cracking the AP Physics C Exam takes our second place spot on the list, and is another great resource for AP Physics C students. The full list of features for this book includes:

  • 2 full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations.
  • Diagnostic questions help you assess your current understanding to focus your study time.
  • Practice drills at the end of each content review chapter.
  • Test taking strategies to help you score as high as possible.

This book has some of the best self assessment and chapter review questions of any on this list, which can be a big help in focusing your time. Princeton Review typically produces strong review content, and this book is no exception.

Barron’s AP Physics C

Barron's AP Physics C
4th Edition
by Pelcovits & Farkas
Price:$6.00
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Strong organization and comprehensive coverage.
Cons: Limited practice test resources.
Best For: Additional review material leading up to the exam.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

Barron’s AP Physics C is another great resource for students preparing for the AP Exam. It has a decent set of practice materials, and does a good overall job of covering the relevant material. Features include:

  • 2 Full length practice tests (plus 1 diagnostic test).
  • Tips for focusing your study efforts and succeeding on the exam.
  • Comprehensive appendix of Physics equations needed for the exam.

When it comes to choosing a book for AP Physics C review, personal preference and how you like to study plays a big role. We don’t rate this as our top pick, but Barron’s is still a great resource - especially for students who like to read and absorb material systematically.

The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics

The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics
1st Edition
by Dan Fullerton
Price:$15.99
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Tons of example problems with clearly illustrated solutions.
Cons: Not a full fledged review guide (e.g. no practice tests)
Best For: Drilling on key course concepts
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics is a slightly different entry on this list. It’s not a full fledged review guide with full length practice tests written in the same style as the AP exam. That said, it’s still a fantastic compliment to your study materials. Features include:

  • 350 worked-out problems with full solutions.
  • Covers all major topics of the AP Physics C Mechanics course.
  • Lays out basic physics principles as quickly and clearly as possible.
  • Demonstrates principles with hundreds of example problems solved in detail

The strength of this book is its massive number of example problems with fully detailed answers. It’s perfect for drilling in the days leading up to the test, but we also recommend you pick up one with full length tests in the same format as the exam.

Wrapping Up

AP Physics C: Mechanics is a popular choice for high school students looking to either get a jump start on college level science requirements or an interest in Physics or Engineering. Unlike some subjects, the top review guides for AP Physics C are all particularly good - and we think you’d do well with anything on our list.

Our comprehensive list of top AP Physics C: Mechanics books are outlined above. Which one is right for you will depend heavily on your specific circumstances. To recap our list of recommendations:

Top Overall Recommendation5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C
Top Pick For Course Supplement5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C
Top Pick For Last Minute PrepThe AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics

5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics C is our top pick overall and our highest recommendation for general course supplemental guide. It has a strong layout, comes with good online resources, and covers all the important information needed for the test.

For students facing less of a time crunch, The AP Physics C Companion: Mechanics is great as a last minute review and for drilling on important concepts. It doesn’t have any practice tests formatted in the same way as the AP Exam, so consider picking up another book on the list in addition to this so you know what to expect.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best AP Physics C: Mechanics resources available. Good luck, and study hard!

Sources and Further Reading

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