Ap physics vs Ap chemistry: which is better?

Ap physics and AP chemistry are more interesting for college students. but the main question is to choose wisely the right Ap class. So what we’re going to talk about in this post.

In this post, we’re going to discover which Ap course you should take, and also give you some tips about a subject. So keep reading until the end to know more details about the subject.

Students are taking AP biology more than AP chemistry

If we take the difference between AP Physics and AP Chemistry we don’t find a big difference in enrollment numbers.  In the previous year, the number of students who enrolled in AP physics exams were about 150,000,  while 134,156 were in chemistry courses.

 chemistry and physics AP exams are hard both,  chemistry students focus on biology and chemistry aspects while physics courses focus a lot on math and its applications for physics subjects. 

But if we make a detailed difference between physics and chemistry,  we can say that AP Physics courses are harder than chemistry according to so the last AP exam results that we’re going to discover in the next paragraph.

Ap physics is harder than AP chemistry

Before discovering why is AP Physics harder than chemistry you can have look at these official AP exam results comparing physics AP exams and chemistry.

Exam score54321
AP Chemistry11.2%16.4%23.7%24.7%23.9%
AP Physics 16.9%16.3%18.9%26.4%31.4%
AP Physics 215.4%17.9%32.0%27.0%7.6%
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism32.6%23.1%13.8%18.0%12.5%
AP Physics C: Mechanics23.5%28.6%21.3%14.9%11.6%

If we compare AP Physics and chemistry exam tests we find big similarities except for the AP Physics 1 exam which shows modest results in the last year.  in other words, it’s got the highest numbers rate of failures compared to the rest mentioned AP exams.

 Even AP Physics 1 is easier than AP Physics 2,  but the problem that makes students fail in AP Physics 1 exams is they aren’t used to studying complex physics subjects like in high school.  Physics subjects in high school are so easy compared to college o rAP Physics 1 classes. So this is an important factor in this failure.

 The People who succeed in the AP Physics 2 exam are more experienced than people who pass the AP Physics 1 exam. As a result, this is what makes them be prepared by working hard and finally getting good results.

So if you are in high school and thinking about passing the AP Physics 1 exam you have to prepare well for it, so as to not get surprised at the exam. AP Physics is more concentrated on math than chemistry. Therefore this is what makes the majority of people fail them.

But it doesn’t mean that chemistry doesn’t have math subjects you would be also demanded to use mathematics equations,  but memorization is more required in AP Chemistry than physics. 

AP Physics and Chemistry curriculum

As a student who asked what to choose between AP Physics and AP Chemistry,  in this case, you would not have two things to choose between.  To clarify you will need to decide to choose between

  • AP Chemistry 
  • AP Physics 1
  • AP Physics 2
  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics

Simply because AP Physics exams are 4 categories, before telling you which one to choose for you you have to discover the curriculum of each one to finally know why you will choose one over the other. 

Ap physics 1

In AP Physics 1 you will study the following subjects:

  • Kinematics and introduction to dynamics
  • Newton’s laws
  • Circular motion and gravitation
  • Energy and momentum
  • Simple harmonic motion and rotational motion

These subjects are the equivalent of the first-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics

Ap physics 2

In ap AP physics 2 you will study the following subjects:

  • Fluids
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electric charge, field, and potential
  • Circuits
  • Magnetic forces, magnetic fields, and Faraday’s law
  • Electromagnetic waves and interference
  • Geometric optics
  • Quantum Physics

These subjects are the equivalent of a second-semester introductory college course in algebra-based physics.

Ap physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

In ap AP physics C (electricity and magnetism ) you will study theses following subjects:

  • Electrostatics
  • Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics
  • Electric Circuits
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Electromagnetism

These subjects are the equivalent of a semester-long, introductory calculus-based college course in physics.

Ap physics C Mechanics

In ap AP Physics C (Mechanics) you will study theses following subjects:

  • Kinematics
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Work, Energy, and Power
  • Systems of Particles and Linear Momentum
  • Rotation
  • Oscillations
  • Gravitation

These subjects are the equivalent of an introductory calculus-based college course in physics

while in there in one AP chemistry course

AP chemistry course:

In ap AP chemistry you will be studying theses following subjects:

  • Atomic Structure and Properties
  • Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties
  • Intermolecular Forces and Properties
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Kinetics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Equilibrium
  • Acids and Bases
  • Applications of Thermodynamics

These subjects are the equivalent of a one-year, introductory college general chemistry course

What to choose AP physics or AP chemistry

As a student who is lost between AP Chemistry and physics classes you would have 3 options:

we will give you the 4 options to choose between for your career.

1 – When you should choose the AP 1 and AP 2 physics exam

If you are interested to major in physics, then is better to choose AP exams by beginning with the AP 1 exam and then going to the next one which is an AP 2,  this will save you a lot of headache and time, especially the first you physics algebra-based subjects. 

2 – when you should choose Ap Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

for Students who should take AP Physics C exams, they must have an intent to Major in electrical engineering or even phsyics. But this course is more useful for electrical engineers than physicists.

  Ap electricity and magnetism course is going to be helpful to have a solid background if you want to become an electrical or electronic engineer.

3 – when you should choose Ap Physics C Mechanics

 The student who should take AP Physics C mechanics must have an interest and intent to major in mechanical or aerospace engineering,  taking these AP courses is going to be helpful to build solid foundations in calculus-based physics courses And learn the complex physics subject mechanical engineers use.

4- when you should choose AP chemistry 

The last thing, is AP Chemistry,  taking  AP  chemistry courses is the step that you should do if you have an interest to Major in biology, chemistry or even nuclear engineering.  It is also interesting to have a solid background to Prepare you for pre-med school classes.


Choosing between AP Chemistry and physics depends on your ambitions for your career. if you want to major in physics or mechanical or electrical engineering so you have to look at AP physics. But if you like to work in biology, nuclear or chemistry engineering Ap chemistry will be a good option to opt for.

it should not be taken based on what is hard or easy.  Stem courses are hard so if you aren’t interested in the major you chose you will be fine in a lot of difficulties that will increase the odds of dropping and losing a lot of time and money.

So chose what you find comfort in, because easy might be hard for you and hard might be easy for someone.

you could read this related article: AP bio vs Ap chemistry: which one is the best?


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.