Exam Procedures

Team Facts & News

From 1986 to 2017, the United States Teams have brought home: 61 Gold Medals, 43 Silver Medals, 29 Bronze Medals, and 11 Honorable Mentions. — AAPT.ORG

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Exam Procedure for Selection of the U.S. Physics Team

There are two exams: the preliminary "F= ma" exam consisting of multiple-choice questions, and the USA Physics Olympiad exam for the top 300 to 400 students from the "F= ma" exam.

Preliminary Exam: The F=ma contest.

Multiple-choice only, focusing on mechanics; problems can be solved without the use of calculus. Exam time: 75 minutes (allow 90 minutes total to administer the exam). We strongly encourage you to have your physics students participate in this part of the contest and are certain that they will benefit from participating in an international educational forum.  NOTE: Any student may take the F=ma exam regardless of their citizenship, they may also take the USA Physics Olympiad exam, but they will be asked to provide their citizenship status for team selection purposes.

USA Physics Olympiad Exam

The top 300 to 400 students based, on the score on the preliminary exam, will be invited to take this exam. This is a free response exam and may require the use of derivatives or simple integration. The exam covers all topics in introductory physics: Mechanics, E&M, Thermodynamics and Fluids, Relativity, Nuclear and Atomic Physics, and Waves and Optics. Part A: 4 problems, 90 minutes. Part B: 2 problems, 90 minutes. Allow 3.5 hours to administer the exam.


PLEASE NOTE: Students taking the USA Physics Olympiad Exam may be invited to be a part of the US Physics Team. Students accepting invitations to be a part of the US Team must be willing and able to attend the entire training camp.  They must be able to compete internationally as representatives of the US Team. This requires that they are US citizens or hold a green card and have attended school in the US for at least three years.

Contact Information

For more details and information about the US Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or programs@aapt.org