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Diagnostic and Advanced Placement Information

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All incoming freshmen are required to complete the Freshman Physics Diagnostic Exam. This exam assesses a student's background in physics. Access to the test, as well as relevant dates and deadlines can be found by logging into The scores on this test are used to determined placement in Physics 1a. Students are placed into 1 of 3 groups:

Sections 1 & 2: These sections are designed for students who were exposed to less physics in high school than is the norm. These sections provide extra review of basic physics, in order to bring everyone up to speed by the end of the term.

Sections 3 - 8: These are typical sections.

Sections 9 & 10: These are advanced sections for students who have already seen a lot of physics. They cover the material in more depth, and may include some additional special topics.

The Physics 1a advanced placement test will be available in the summer before freshman year through Information about dates and deadlines are available there. Placement out of Physics 1a is only available by successfully completing this tests in the summer. We do not accept grades in courses at other institutions. No additional opportunities to write these tests will be available. No student is required to complete any of these exams. Based on the results of your Physics 1a Advanced Placement exam and your background in physics, you may be invited to take the Physics 1b Advanced placement exam. Some students who have placed out of Physics 1b will be invited to take the Physics 1c Advanced placement exam. The Physics 1b and 1c Advanced Placement exams are written in person once you have arrived at Caltech.