# Physics Subject Test

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Order the Official SAT Subject Test Study Guide in Physics and get two full-length practice tests, detailed answer explanations, tips, and more.

The Physics Subject Test assesses your understanding of concepts from one year of introductory physics on the college-preparatory level, as well as reasoning and problem-solving skills derived from lab experience. If you’re thinking about pursuing a math- or science-based program of study (such as science, technology, engineering, or math), taking the Physics Subject Test is a great way to demonstrate your interests on your college application.

## Video Lessons from Khan Academy

Use the free Khan Academy® lessons in this playlist to study for the Physics Subject Test.

## Test Basics

Scoring, Timing, Number of Questions
Points Minutes Questions
200-800 60 75 (Multiple Choice)
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### Important Notes

• Offered in August, October, November, December, May, and June.
• Calculator use not permitted
• Problem solving requires simple numerical calculations
• Measurements are expressed in the metric system

## Getting Ready for the Test

Skills Approximate % of Test
Fundamental concepts & knowledge 12%-20%
Single-concept problem 48%-64%
Multiple-concept problem 20%-35%
• Ability to recall and understand the major concepts of physics and to apply these physical principles to solve specific problems
• Understanding of simple algebraic, trigonometric and graphical relationships, and the concepts of ratio and proportion, and how to apply these to physics problems
• Familiarity with the metric system of units
• Ability to apply laboratory skills in the context of the physics content covered on the test
• One-year introductory college-preparatory course in physics
• Courses in algebra and trigonometry
• Experience in the laboratory
Content Approximate % of Test

Mechanics

• Kinematics, such as velocity, acceleration, motion in one dimension, and motion of projectiles
• Dynamics, such as force, Newton’s laws, statics, and friction
• Energy and momentum, such as potential and kinetic energy, work, power, impulse, and conservation laws
• Circular motion, such as uniform circular motion and centripetal force
• Simple harmonic motion, such as mass on a spring and the pendulum
• Gravity, such as the law of gravitation, orbits, and Kepler’s laws
36%-42%

Electricity and magnetism

• Electric fields, forces, and potentials, such as Coulomb’s law, induced charge, field and potential of groups of point charges, and charged particles in electric fields
• Capacitance, such as parallel-plate capacitors and time-varying behavior in charging/ discharging
• Circuit elements and DC circuits, such as resistors, light bulbs, series and parallel networks, Ohm’s law, and Joule’s law
• Magnetism, such as permanent magnets, fields caused by currents, particles in magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, and Lenz’s law
18%–24%

Waves and optics

• General wave properties, such as wave speed, frequency, wavelength, superposition, standing wave diffraction, and Doppler effect
• Reflection and refraction, such as Snell’s law and changes in wavelength and speed
• Ray optics, such as image formation using pinholes, mirrors, and lenses
• Physical optics, such as single-slit diffraction, double-slit interference, polarization, and color
15%–19%

Heat and thermodynamics

• Thermal properties, such as temperature, heat transfer, specific and latent heats, and thermal expansions
• Laws of thermodynamics, such as first and second laws, internal energy, entropy, and heat engine efficiency
6%–11%

Modern physics

• Quantum phenomena, such as photons and photoelectric effect
• Atomic, such as the Rutherford and Bohr models, atomic energy levels, and atomic spectra
• Nuclear and particle physics, such as radioactivity, nuclear reactions, and fundamental particles
• Relativity, such as time dilation, length contraction, and mass-energy equivalence
6%–11%

Miscellaneous

• General, such as history of physics and general questions that overlap several major topics
• Analytical skills, such as graphical analysis, measurement, and math skills
• Contemporary physics, such as astrophysics, superconductivity, and chaos theory
4%–9%