Physics Placement Exam

Incoming freshmen who scored a 5 on the AP Physics C Exam in Mechanics are eligible to take the physics placement exam for Ph112 (Physics I). Incoming freshmen who scored a 5 on the AP Physics C Exam in Electricity and Magnetism are eligible to take the physics placement exam for Ph213 (Physics II). Transfer students will consult with the Physics Department Chair.

Cooper Union’s placement exams in physics are each offered once per year, at the start of the semester in which the associated course runs. Hence, incoming students qualified to take the Mechanics placement exam may take the exam in January of their freshman year, and those qualified to take the Electricity and Magnetism exam may take the exam in September of their sophomore year. No physics placement exams are given during orientation.

Each placement exam is administered on the second Tuesday of the semester in which the course is offered, during “Club Hours.” You may only take each placement exam once. If you pass the exam you may drop the course and receive 4 credits, but not a grade. You may also choose to continue taking the course for a grade. The exam is typically graded, and each student notified if they passed or failed, within 1 – 2 days.

To prepare for the mechanics placement exam a student should have mastered the “2 and 3 dot problems” in Halliday, Resnick, Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, any recent edition – Chapters 1-13 and 15. (There is no coverage of fluids on the placement exam, the subject of Chapter 14.)

Numerical values are never used in the introductory physics courses – all calculations are done symbolically, hence calculators are neither required nor permitted during the placement exam.

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