Exemption by Exam

Students and professor work in the lab

Are you planning to take an introductory Physics course (Physics 110, 115, 117, 120, and 125) this year? If so, please read on! This page covers the Physics Department policy on course exemption.

General Topics Covered in Physics 110/115: Vectors, Linear and Rotational Motion, Forces, Work and Energy, Gravitation, Linear and Angular Momentum, Conservation Laws, and Oscillations

General Topics Covered in Physics 120: Electric Charge, Electric Fields, Electric Currents, AC and DC Circuits, Magnetic Fields, Induction, and Electromagnetic Energy

General Topics Covered in Physics 117: Travelling and Standing waves, Superposition, Light, Ray Optics, Interference, Diffraction, Temperature, Heat, Kinetic Theory, First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, Thermal Properties and Processes. 

Most students should start with 110 (if you are interested in majoring in Physics or on the 3/2 Engineering programs), or 115 (if you are a Biology, Chemistry or Geology major).  If you have had significant experience with physics already and are interested in skipping over one or more of these courses, you may want to consider taking an exemption exam.

Did you get a score of 5 on either of the AP Physics C exams? If so, you have an automatic exemption for Physics 110 or Physics 115, if you took the Mechanics exam, or for Physics 120 or 125, if you took the Electricity and Magnetism exam.  If you wish to use this exemption, we encourage you to first consult with your academic advisor to make sure the exemption is appropriate for your major or program.  In particular, if your major or future plans (medical school, for instance) require any of these courses, you should check with your departmental and/or pre-professional advisor before opting for the exemption.  To receive the course exemption and register for the next physics course, bring proof of your AP exam score to the instructor who will sign the prerequisite override form. This exemption is for placement purposes only; you will not receive course credit for Physics 110, 115, 117, 120 or 125 specifically.

Have you passed a college-level Physics course elsewhere? If so, the credits may transfer if the course was calculus based and had a lab component.  Bring the transfer credit form from the Registrar and the catalog description of the course, and its math prerequisites, to the Physics Chair. In this case you will receive both exemption and course credit for the transferred course.

Exemption exams are available for Physics 110/115, and 120/125.  Passing one of these course-specific exams exempts you from the course.  For example, passing the Physics 110 exemption exam allows you to take Physics 120, for which Physics 110 is a prerequisite.  Again, this exemption is for placement purposes only; you will not receive course credit for Physics 110, 115, 117, 120 or 125 specifically.  You may take more than one exam and be exempted from more than one course.

It has been our experience that most people taking these exams do not pass them.  We encourage you to study. Bring a #2 pencil and eraser. Calculators are not allowed.  Equations are not provided. The exam lasts one hour.  You may not take the same exemption exam more than once.  We encourage you to study!

 Physics Exemption Exam dates and locations will be announced at the beginning of each semester.   If you have additional questions about the exams, please contact Professor Dennis Eggleston at eggleston@oxy.edu.