AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam: 2021 Results
The following data reflect the 48,171 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam prior to June 12.
AP Physics C: Mechanics 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 48,171 students, 2 answered every question correctly, earning every point possible.
The May 3 In-School Paper Exam
The largest exam date for AP Physics C: Mechanics was May 3, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.
- Course Units:
- AP Physics C: Mechanics students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 1, Kinematics, and least mastery of Units 5–7.
- Science Practices:
- AP Physics C: Mechanics students’ strongest skills were demonstrated on questions related to Science Practice 1, Visual Representations; 12% of students answered all of these questions correctly.
- The most challenging questions required Skill Category 4, Mathematical Routines; 1% of students answered all of these questions correctly.
For exam security, several different sets of free-response questions were administered. The following analysis focuses on one of the most widely administered, Set 2.
- AP Physics C: Mechanics students demonstrated very strong knowledge and skills on Question 1, Experimental Design, Kinematics. 25% of students earned 12–15 points out of 15 possible.
- By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 2, Rotation. About 2% of students earned 12–15 points out of 15 possible.
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 C: Mechanics Exams is that most of the all-multiple-choice digital versions were slightly easier than the traditional paper versions and one of the digital versions was slightly more difficult than the paper versions. Accordingly:
- Students taking one of the slightly easier digital versions needed to earn 2–3 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 3.
- Students taking the slightly more difficult digital version needed to earn 2 fewer points to earn a score of 3+ than students who took the paper exam on May 3.