The SAT physics subject test is an hour-long algebra-based physics exam with 75 multiple-choice questions. It covers a broad range of topics, primarily:
- Modern physics
If you want to take the SAT physics subject test but aren’t sure if you are going to be prepared for it by the end of the school year, then you might want to start by comparing the course syllabus for your physics class in school with the topics on the SAT physics subject test.
The AP Exam
Notably, the AP Physics 1 exam tests Mechanics, some Waves, and some Electricity. It does not test Magnetism, Optics, Thermodynamics, or Modern Physics, and only tests some of the Electricity concepts that can appear on the SAT physics subject test. So, if you are in an AP Physics 1 course that will be covering only content tested on the AP Physics 1 exam, then you will have been taught roughly 50% of the content tested on the SAT physics subject test by the time you take the AP Physics 1 exam in May.
On the other hand, if you are taking an AP Physics 2 course, you will likely have been taught all of the content tested on the SAT physics subject test by the time you take the AP Physics 2 exam in May. The AP Physics 2 exam tests essentially all of the topics on the SAT physics subject test (plus fluids) except mechanics and some wave concepts, which students are expected to have learned prior to taking an AP Physics 2 course.
Lastly, the two AP Physics C exams cover mechanics (with calculus) and electricity and magnetism (with calculus) respectively. If you take an AP Physics C course that prepares you for both the AP Physics C mechanics exam and the AP Physics C electricity and magnetism exam and doesn’t cover additional topics, then you will have learned roughly 60% of the content tested on the SAT physics subject test by the time you take the AP Physics C exams in May.
The official College Board links to pages with information about topics tested on both exams can be found below:
If you are interested in taking the physics subject test but have content gaps, please feel free to reach out to us for a consultation!