AP Physics 2 Exam: 2021 Results
The following data reflect the 18,449 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics 2 Exam prior to June 12.
AP Physics 2 Score Distributions, 2019 vs. 2021
The following table enables comparisons of student performance in 2021 to student performance on the comparable full-length exam prior to the covid-19 pandemic.
Out of these 18,449 students, 1 answered every multiple-choice question correctly and received perfect scores on all 4 free-response questions by every college professor and AP teacher who scored their work.
The May 7 In-School Paper Exam
The largest exam date for AP Physics 2 was May 7, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.
Students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.
- Course Units:
- AP Physics 2 students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 1, Fluids. 15% of students answered every question about this unit correctly. Unit 6, Geometric and Physical Optics, was the next strongest unit.
- AP Physics 2 students scored least well on questions about Unit 3, Electric Force, Field, and Potential. 2% of students answered every question about this unit correctly; 14% of students answered 20% or fewer of these questions accurately.
- Science Practices:
- AP Physics 2 students’ strongest skills were demonstrated on questions related to Science Practice 5, Data Analysis, followed by Science Practice 6, Argumentation, and 7, Making Connections.
- AP Physics 2 students generally performed best on Question 1. Approximately 18% of students earned 8–10 points out of 10 possible.
- By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 3. About 5% of students earned 10–12 out of 12 points possible; 17% of students earned 0 points on it.
The Digital Exams
To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:
- Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
- Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
- The net result for this year’s AP Physics 2 Exams is that out of 80 points possible, some of the digital versions were slightly easier than the paper versions and some of the digital versions were slightly more difficult than the paper versions. Accordingly:
- Students taking one of the slightly easier digital versions needed to earn 1–2 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 7.
- Students taking one of the slightly more difficult digital versions needed to earn 2 fewer points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 7.