- Course type: Self-paced
- Available Lessons: 81
- Average Lesson Length: 8 min
Eligible for Certificate: Yes
Certificates show that you have completed the course. They do not provide credit.
Watch a preview:chapter 1 / lesson 1What is Energy? - Definition and Significance in Nature
Course SummaryIncrease your confidence ahead of taking the SAT Subject Test in Physics by reviewing topics in mechanics, waves and optics, and heat and thermodynamics with this engaging course. Use our self-paced video lessons and quizzes to identify which topics need further study and see which ones you've mastered.
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About this Course
Even if you're not hoping to attend a school that requires the SAT subject tests, you can still take one of them to showcase your skills in a particular subject area. In fact, many schools recommend taking one of the subject tests as part of your admissions process. Taking and passing one of these tests can help you stand out from the field of applicants and might be useful for earning credit in introductory courses.
If you have strong knowledge of physics, you can take the SAT subject test in physics, which has 75 multiple choice questions. This test has to be completed in one hour and is only available in paper form. You can choose from six different test dates annually. When you start preparing for the test, you'll be able to utilize the video lessons and quizzes found in this study guide. The topics found in the lessons are the same as those on the test and cover:
- Electricity and magnetism
- Waves and optics
- Heat and thermodynamics
- Modern physics
- Analytical skills
- Contemporary physics
The test features questions in six different content areas, each making up different percentages of the entire test. You should be able to use the metric system and apply the basic physics principles and skills you learned in your high school lab to common physics problems. Concepts that you will be tested on include dynamics, energy and momentum, magnetism, electric fields and wave properties. You will also encounter questions on reflection and refraction, the laws of thermodynamics, nuclear physics and relativity. A miscellaneous content area tests your analytical skills and might ask you about the history of physics or concepts like chaos theory. Some questions overlap the different content areas.
Preparing and Registering for the SAT Subject Test - Physics
Our study guide has video lessons that focus on the principles and concepts tested on the subject exam. You'll also be able to utilize self-assessment quizzes to gauge your understanding of the topics. These quizzes can also be used to prepare you for the style of questions you'll see on the test. Links to text lessons offering additional details on key terms can also be found in the lesson transcripts.
If you plan to take additional subject tests besides this physics test, you will have the option of taking two additional subject exams on the same date as your physics test. However, you can't take your SAT and a subject test on the same date. Plan to register about a month before your selected test date in order to avoid paying a fee for late registration.
The registration process is available online and allows you to get your confirmation right away. You'll just need to select your test date and testing center when you register, along with uploading a photo of yourself. This is also the time to choose which schools you want to receive your test scores. Your admission ticket will be available after you register, and you'll need to bring this with you on the day of your test. Note that you can't use a calculator for this test, but you will need to bring pencils and a photo ID.
Scoring the SAT Subject Test - Physics
You'll find your scores online a few weeks after your test date. Content area tests are scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. You get one point for each correct score, and fractional deductions are made for each incorrect score. No points are deducted for questions that you leave blank. The score report is also sent to your high school and the colleges you selected at registration.
You'll see questions covering kinematics, dynamics and circular motion. You'll also need to apply basic physics principles to problems on energy and momentum, simple harmonic motion and gravity. You'll want to be familiar with formulas for speed and velocity, and you should be able to define acceleration and recognize its formula. You'll also need knowledge of the differences between potential and kinetic energy. You might be asked to apply Newton's laws of motion or explain laws like Kepler's laws of planetary motion or the law of gravitation.
Electricity and Magnetism
In this section of the test, you'll be asked about electric fields, capacitance, circuit elements and magnetism. You'll need to know how Coulomb's law is used to explain the relationship between force, distance and charge and what the equation and uses are for Ohm's law. You'll need to be familiar with the definition for magnetic force, and you might need to explain what a magnetic field is. You can expect to see questions on electric potential, electric force fields, parallel-plate capacitors and Faraday's law.
Waves and Optics
This section asks you to apply physics properties to questions on reflection and refraction, physical optics and ray optics. You should be familiar with the methods used to measure waves and know how to measure wavelength and wave speed. You could also be asked about applications for the Doppler Effect or how color and light are related. This section will also test your knowledge of how images are formed in mirrors and lenses and why Snell's law is used to determine how light waves are bent. Other concepts covered in this section include single-slit diffraction and polarization.
Heat and Thermodynamics
This section focuses on thermal properties and laws of thermodynamics. You'll need to know how temperature is expressed and what happens to a substance's temperature when heat is added or removed. You could be asked about the calculation for specific heat or the process of thermal expansion. You should be familiar with the first and second laws of thermodynamics and prepared to apply these laws to different problems.
In this section, you'll see questions on Quantum phenomena and relativity. You should be prepared to answer questions on atomic theory and nuclear and particle physics. You might be asked about the importance of the Bohr model and its connection to earlier theories, like the Rutherford model. You'll need to be familiar with the different types of nuclear reactions and be able to explain various theories on relativity.
This section features questions on the historical aspects of physics and focuses on your ability to perform graphical analysis or use math to solve problems. Be prepared for questions on astrophysics and applications for chaos theory in addition to questions focused on the phenomenon of superconductivity.
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