# Chief Reader Report on Student Responses:

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1 Chief Reader Report on Student Responses: Number of Students Scored 170,447 Number of Readers AP Physics 1 Free-Response Questions Score Distribution Exam Score N %At Global Mean , , , , , The following comments on the 2017 free-response questions for AP Physics 1 were written by the Chief Reader, Peter Sheldon, Professor of Physics, Randolph College. They give an overview of each free-response question and of how students performed on the question, including typical student errors. General comments regarding the skills and content that students frequently have the most problems with are included. Some suggestions for improving student preparation in these areas are also provided. Teachers are encouraged to attend a College Board workshop to learn strategies for improving student performance in specific areas.

2 Question #1 Topic: DC Circuits Max. Points: 7 Mean Score: 2.38 What were responses expected to demonstrate in their response to this question? This question assessed learning objectives 5.B.3.1, 5.B.9.3, and 5.C.3.1. The responses to this question were expected to demonstrate the following: The ability to analyze series and parallel circuits and to compare potential difference, energy, and power. The ability to apply Kirchhoff s loop rule to rank the potential differences across lightbulbs. Recognition that each circuit draws a different amount of power and the ability to correlate circuit power (or energy or current) to battery life. The ability to give a coherent and correct argument to support their reasoning. How well did the responses address the course content related to this question? How well did the responses integrate the skills required on this question? Responses that correctly identified the series and parallel circuits from the images provided, and then ranked the potential difference across the lightbulbs in the context of the diagrams showed an understanding of the underlying concepts. The explanations went beyond identifying the circuit configurations as series or parallel. Responses that correctly linked potential difference, current, or resistance to the power output of the different circuits, and then implicitly or explicitly showed that power output was dependent upon the configuration of the lightbulbs or the equivalent resistance of the entire circuit revealed understanding of how these concepts are linked. The responses expressed clear thoughts for a cohesive explanation. Completely qualitative arguments were presented by some responses, while others used rationales that included quantitative reasoning, and both were acceptable. What common student misconceptions or gaps in knowledge were seen in the responses to this question? Common Misconceptions/Knowledge Gaps Responses that Demonstrate Understanding Increased resistance results in increased power when the battery potential and lightbulb resistance are fixed quantities. Circuits with higher equivalent resistance draw lower current, resulting in lower power consumption. The power consumed by the circuit is proportional to the energy the battery could provide; hence, high power would result in long battery life. A circuit with a higher power will run out of energy faster than a circuit with lower power. Linking the power consumption to the number of lightbulbs rather than the wiring configuration. The total power consumed depends on the configuration of the lightbulbs, equivalent resistance, and battery voltage.

4 Question #2 Topic: Lab question, friction Max. Points: 12 Mean Score: 5.47 What were responses expected to demonstrate in their response to this question? This question assessed learning objectives 2.B.1.1, 3.A.1.2, 3.B.1.1, 3.B.1.2, 3.B.1.3, 3.B.2.1, and 3.C.4.1. The responses to this question were expected to demonstrate the following: The ability to design an experiment, indicate measurements and equipment required, and describe a valid procedure. The ability to identify the forces acting on an object in contact with a surface and resolve all forces into components parallel and perpendicular to the surface. Understanding how to apply Newton s second law to an object in order to arrive at a coefficient of friction between two surfaces. Understanding how to differentiate between static friction and kinetic friction. Recognizing that the coefficient of friction describes only the properties of two surfaces in contact resulting from interatomic forces. How well did the responses address the course content related to this question? How well did the responses integrate the skills required on this question? Students who were able to design an experiment to measure the coefficient of static friction understood that they needed the block to interact with the board in such a way that it went from a state of rest to a state of motion. Students were generally able to draw appropriate diagrams and describe the experimental procedure. Students understood how to apply Newton s laws in two dimensions in order to derive an expression for a coefficient of friction. Students were able to analyze data, and identify and eliminate outliers. What common student misconceptions or gaps in knowledge were seen in the responses to this question? Common Misconceptions/Knowledge Gaps Responses that Demonstrate Understanding Not realizing the difference between static and kinetic friction. Students stated correctly that the maximum force just before the block starts to move identifies static friction. Many students used experiments with constant motion or even constant acceleration showing that they were trying to solve for the coefficient of kinetic friction. Lack of understanding that coefficient of friction describes two specific surfaces in contact, and proposed experiments in which data was taken for the block on two different surfaces. Most students properly described an experiment in which the block and the board were sliding or attempted to slide against each other.

6 Question #3 Topic: Conservation of Angular Momentum Max. Points: 12 Mean Score: 3.48 What were responses expected to demonstrate in their response to this question? This question assessed learning objectives 3.F.1.2, 3.F.2.1, 3.F.3.1, 4.D.2.1, 4.D.3.1, 5.E.1.1, and 5.E.1.2. The responses to this question were expected to demonstrate the following: Understanding how to connect principles of physics (torque, angular momentum, and impulse) to observed behavior of a physical system. The ability to derive a relationship using conservation of angular momentum. Understanding how functional relationships in an unfamiliar equation connect to physical reasoning. How well did the responses address the course content related to this question? How well did the responses integrate the skills required on this question? Many responses clearly discussed and internalized the meaning of torque and rotational inertia, and their relationship to a change in angular speed. Many responses showed work at some level with angular momentum conservation. The biggest content issue was a misunderstanding of the vector nature of momentum, in particular why a bouncing object delivers more impulse than a sticking object. A reasonable number of students earned a point for addressing functional dependence of an unfamiliar equation. Many responses didn t distinguish between deriving a relationship from first principles vs. plugging a bunch of variables into an equation and solving for one of those variables. For derivations, the responses we ve seen show students focused on getting an answer by any means necessary, without thinking about the starting point for the chain of reasoning that could lead to a correct conclusion. What common student misconceptions or gaps in knowledge were seen in the responses to this question? Common Misconceptions/Knowledge Gaps Responses that Demonstrate Understanding Students do not show an understanding that the analysis of collisions requires starting with conservation of momentum, not conservation of energy The rebounding disk changes its momentum more than does the sticking disk. Students do not start derivations from first principles Angular momentum is conserved: L = L Students do not show an understanding that analyzing an equation for physical plausibility begins with addressing functional dependence direct or inverse relationships not with which variables should or should not be associated with other variables In this equation, the angular speed varies inversely with the mass of the disk. This doesn t make physical sense because

8 Question #4 Topic: Conservation of Energy Max. Points: 7 Mean Score: 2.01 What were responses expected to demonstrate in their response to this question? This question assessed learning objectives 3.A.1.1, 4.C.1.1, 4.C.1.2, 5.B.3.3, 5.B.4.1, 5.B.4.2, and 5.B.5.4. The responses to this question were expected to demonstrate the following: Understanding conservation of energy for an object moving through a height change. Recognizing when to treat a problem from an energy point of view. Recognizing that the time of flight for a horizontal projectile depends only on the height at launch. Understanding that the change in gravitational potential energy is path independent, dependent only on net height change. The ability to select an appropriate reference point for potential energy. How well did the responses address the course content related to this question? How well did the responses integrate the skills required on this question? Most recognized that this could be solved with an energy approach. Most recognized that the energy changes from potential to kinetic, but that the total amount remains constant. Most showed an understanding that potential energy was related to the height and that kinetic energy was related to the velocity. Many did not address that the time of flight for the projectile is the same if launched from the same height, with the same vertical velocity. Most recognize that if the height change is the same then the blocks have the same velocity, but don t explicitly connect it to potential energy. The responses showed a struggle with reasoning in terms of fundamental physics principles. Many responses did not focus on the big ideas and how they were applied to the problem. What common student misconceptions or gaps in knowledge were seen in the responses to this question? Common Misconceptions/Knowledge Gaps Responses that Demonstrate Understanding Many students don t distinguish between the potential energy and the change in potential energy Ignoring friction, the kinetic energy, and therefore the speed, at the bottom of the ramp depends only on the change in potential energy between the top and the bottom of the ramp, which depends on the height change between the top and bottom of the ramp. Many don t recognize path independence for conservative systems Since the change in the potential energy between the top and bottom of the ramp is the same for both ramps, the kinetic energy and therefore the speed at the end of the ramp will be the same for both blocks.

10 Question #5 Topic: Waves Max. Points: 7 Mean Score: 2.63 What were responses expected to demonstrate in their response to this question? This question assessed learning objectives 3.A.1.1, 6.A.1.2, 6.D.1.1, and 6.D.2.1. The responses to this question were expected to demonstrate the following: The ability to translate a position versus time graph to a velocity versus time graph. Understanding the difference between the speed of a pulse versus the speed of a point in the medium (string). The ability to apply the principle of superposition. Understanding the difference between constructive and destructive interference when two wave pulses overlap. How well did the responses address the course content related to this question? How well did the responses integrate the skills required on this question? The responses address the basic concepts of wave motion and can connect position correctly to velocity. The responses nicely integrated the skill of graphing to demonstrate understanding of wave motion. The responses were very clear on part b where students needed to demonstrate the principle of superposition. Overall the responses address the content appropriately and integrate the skills required to answer the question. What common student misconceptions or gaps in knowledge were seen in the responses to this question? Common Misconceptions/Knowledge Gaps Responses that Demonstrate Understanding Velocity of wave versus velocity of a point on the string. A graph of velocity as a function of time, which is the slope of the pulse identified Translating from a position versus time graph to a velocity versus time graph. Drawing two distinct, overlapping pulses. A single pulse that shows the superposition of the two given pulses at the time given

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