Team Facts & News
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
Exam Procedure for Selection of the U.S. Physics Team
There are two exams: the preliminary "F= ma" exam consisting of multiple-choice questions, and the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) exam for the top 300 to 400 students from the "F= ma" exam.
Preliminary Exam: The F=ma contest.
Multiple-choice only, focusing on mechanics; problems can be solved without the use of calculus. Exam time: 75 minutes (allow 90 minutes total to administer the exam). We strongly encourage you to have your physics students participate in this part of the contest and are certain that they will benefit from participating in an international educational forum. NOTE: Any student may take the F=ma exam regardless of their citizenship, they may also take the USAPhO exam, but they will be asked to provide their citizenship status for team selection purposes.
USA Physics Olympiad Exam (USAPhO)
The top 300 to 400 students based, on the score on the preliminary
exam, will be invited to take this exam. This is a free response exam
and may require the use of derivatives or simple integration. The exam
covers all topics in introductory physics: Mechanics, E&M,
Thermodynamics and Fluids, Relativity, Nuclear and Atomic Physics, and
Waves and Optics. Part A: 4 problems, 90 minutes. Part B: 2 problems, 90
minutes. Allow 3.5 hours to administer the exam. Please note that although we allow students outside of the U.S. to take the F=ma exam, as of 2017 we are no longer allowing students who are not located in the U.S. to take the USAPhO exam.
PLEASE NOTE: Students taking the USA Physics Olympiad Exam may be invited to be a part of the U.S. Physics Team. Students accepting invitations to be a part of the U.S. Team must be willing and able to attend the entire training camp. They must be able to compete internationally as representatives of the U.S. Team. This requires that they are U.S. citizens or hold a green card and have attended school in the U.S. for at least three years.
For more details and information about the U.S. Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or firstname.lastname@example.org