How to Use This Course
This is a self-paced course that you can use to learn algebra-based mechanics on your own, or as a resource to help with a class that you're taking. This page provides some guidance on how everyone can use the course, and some specific suggestions based on your situation.
Many concepts in the course build on previous concepts so it's best to go through the pages in order. Try to fully understand a topic before moving on so that you don't have any gaps, and the rest of the course will be easier.
It's also important that you watch the videos and read through the study guide on a page before trying the practice problems. While solving problems is necessary to reinforce your understanding of a topic, many students get stuck while solving problems because they don't fully understand the concepts yet.
Go through the sections of each page in the order they're listed:
- Introduction - This will give you an introduction to that topic and includes some of the key concepts in bold. It's a quick read so don't skip it!
- Lesson videos - Watch the lesson videos to learn the underlying physics concepts for that topic so that you can develop an intuition for how things work. It will also explain what the equations mean and how to use them. Many students like to jump ahead to the practice problems but they often get stuck because they don't fully understand the concepts. So make sure you watch this first (and maybe more than once).
- Study guide - After watching the lesson video read through the study guide to review the key concepts and equations from the video. You'll probably want to use this as a reference when working on practice problems, and as a quick refresher for the topic later on.
- Example problem videos - After watching the lesson videos and reading the study guide, watch the example problems video to learn how to walk through and solve physics problems for that topic. This will show you how to find the important information in the question, how to draw a picture, how to decide which equations to use, and how to work through the problem. It also includes specific tips for that topic.
- Practice problems - After watching the videos you're ready to try solving problems! Work through the practice problems on your own and check your answers when you're done (you can do all of them first or check your answer after each question). The practice problems are organized into sections so you can focus on practicing one concept at a time. Each question includes a solution that explains how to solve it.
- AP® exam-style questions - If you're taking AP® Physics 1, or just want more practice, work through these multiple-choice questions that are intended to reflect the style of the AP® Physics 1 exam. Note that all of these questions are also compiled into 4 multiple-choice practice tests.
- Other resources - There are links to other useful resources at the bottom of each page. Feel free to explore these if you want to understand the topic a bit better. They include links to other videos, website, interactive simulators and more.
Prerequisites for this course:
- Algebra - This course is algebra-based (no calculus) so you'll need to be comfortable with the order of operations, rearranging and simplifying equations, solving for unknown variables and working with graphs. The Basics section includes a page to help you refresh on Algebra, Order of Operations & Solving Equations.
- Geometry and right triangle trig - You should be comfortable with basic geometry and right triangle trigonometry. The trig functions (sin, cos, tan and their inverses) and the Pythagorean theorem are used throughout the course when working with vectors. The Basics section includes pages to help you refresh on Trig Functions & Geometry and Vectors.
Other materials that you'll need:
- Scientific calculator - You'll need a scientific calculator (a calculator with sin, cos and tan functions) or you can use an online calculator like WolframAlpha.
- A notebook, paper or a tablet - The practice problems can be printed out and worked on directly but you may want a notebook, some paper or a tablet to have more room to work through the practice problems.
The course is flexible - it can be completed over the course of a full school year (like a 9-month high school physics class) but it can also be completed in less time (like a 4-month college physics class).
Some topic pages are longer than others and different people work at different paces, so it's recommended that you spend as much time as you need on each page until you understand the topic well. But here are some general estimates for the average amount of time you may spend on each part of the course:
- Lesson videos: about 20-40 min per page
- Study guides: about 15-30 min per page
- Example problem videos: about 20-40 min per page
- Practice problems: about 30 problems per page, 60-120 min per page
- AP®-style quesitons: about 6 problems per page, 15-30 min per page
- Total time per page: about 2-4 hours
- Total time for the course: about 80-120 hours
You can use the tool below to create a custom weekly schedule based on what units and content you want to cover and your start/end dates. This schedule attempts to spread out the course evenly over the selected time period, and is meant to be a guide and not a strict schedule. Note that the schedule will reset if you reload or leave this page, but you can download your schedule as a .csv file using the link below.
*The AP® Physics 1 exam is Friday, May 16, 2025.