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In 1986, under the direction of the AAPT Executive Officer, Jack Wilson, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) organized the United States Physics Team for the first time. — AAPT.ORG



  • Students must be either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to participate in the F=ma or USAPhO exam.
  • If necessary, the F=ma exam may be taken at exam sites outside the U.S., subject to additional proctoring regulations. However, the USAPhO exam may only be administered in the U.S.
  • Students must be eligible to compete at the International Physics Olympiad to be invited to U.S. Physics Team training camp. This requires that they are U.S. citizens, or hold a green card and have attended school in the U.S. for at least three years.
  • Due to the nature of the training program, students must be able to attend the U.S. Physics Team training camp for its full 10 days, and cannot attend camp more than twice.

Qualifying Exam Procedures

  • Two versions of F=ma exams will be given on two dates in order to accommodate a larger number of participants.
  • Both the F=ma and USAPhO exams must be proctored. It is expected that competitors will take the exam at their local school, though they may travel elsewhere if needed.
  • Homeschooled students should contact nearby high schools, community colleges, or universities to ask if they can take the exam there. Parents or relatives of homeschooled students are not acceptable proctors. Parents of homeschooled students may register their children for the exam, but they must provide information for an alternative proctor.
  • For both the F=ma and USAPhO exams, a handheld calculator may be used. Its memory must be cleared of data and programs. You may use only the basic functions found on a simple scientific calculator.
  • Only scratch paper provided by the proctors may be used in both the F=ma and USAPhO Exams. The proctors must collect it immediately after the exam, along with the exam booklets. None of these materials may be returned to students until after public discussion is allowed.
  • To verify the identity of exam proctors, we ask that email addresses be official school email addresses, associated with a school district or accredited private school. If this is not possible, proctors must provide additional contact information for their organizations to verify their identity and the identity of the organization. In particular, testing centers must provide a web address to verify their status.
  • All students taking the F=ma or USAPhO exam at a given school must take the exam at the same time.
  • Proctors cannot be relatives of the student(s) taking the exam. Proctors should have at least a 2 year degree, though this degree does not need to be related to physics. Libraries may proctor the test at a public library, provided they can observe the test to ensure the integrity of the process.


Contact Information

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