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Did you know?

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



For Students

Past Exams

Team Qualification

There are several rounds of exams.

  1. The F=ma exam is a 75-minute exam with 25 multiple choice questions focusing on mechanics. Two versions of the exam are given, the F=ma A and F=ma B.
  2. Approximately 400 students will be invited to take the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) exam, based on their scores in the F=ma exam. The USAPhO is a 3 hour free response exam where students are required to justify their answers. The exam is divided into two parts of 90 minutes each.
  3. Approximately 20 students will be invited to be a part of the U.S. Physics Team, based on their USAPhO and F=ma scores, and attend a ten day training camp at the University of Maryland. At the end of the camp, five will be selected to represent the team at the International Physics Olympiad.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the scope of the F=ma exam?
A: The F=ma exam focuses on mechanics, including kinematics, statics, Newton’s laws, momentum and energy, oscillations, orbital mechanics, fluids, and elementary data analysis. All problems can be solved without the use of calculus.

Q: What is the scope of the USAPhO exam?
A: The USAPhO exam covers all topics in introductory physics, including mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, relativity, nuclear, atomic, and particle physics, waves, optics, and data analysis. Problems may require the use of calculus.

Q: Can I take both F=ma exams?
A: Yes, as long as you meet the citizenship or permanent resident criterion.

Q: How do the two F=ma exams differ?
A: The F=ma A and F=ma B are designed to cover the same topics and have the same difficulty, but will have completely different questions.

Q: How do I qualify for the USAPhO exam?
A: You will qualify for the USAPhO if your F=ma exceeds the cutoff score. If you take both F=ma exams, you will qualify if either exceeds the cutoff.

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