
Content of SAT II Physics
Math and physics go hand in hand, right? You might be
surprised, then, to learn that you aren’t allowed to use a calculator
on SAT II Physics. The math required of you never goes beyond simple
arithmetic and manipulation of equations. You have, on average,
48 seconds to answer each question, and the people at ETS realize
that isn’t enough time to delve into problems involving simultaneous
equations or complex trigonometry. They’re more interested in testing
your grasp of the basic concepts of physics. If you’ve grasped these concepts,
your weakness in math isn’t going to hurt you.
ETS breaks down the concepts you need to know for the
test into six categories:
Topic  Percentage of the Test 

Mechanics  34–38% 
Electricity and Magnetism  22–26% 
Waves  15–19% 
Heat, Kinetic Theory, and Thermodynamics  8–12% 
Modern Physics  8–12% 
Miscellaneous  2–4% 
While these categories are helpful, they are also very
broad. You may be a whiz with waves but a loser with lenses, and
want to know how much of the waves portion of the test will be devoted
to optics. To help you out, we’ve broken the test down even further
so that you’ll know exactly where to expect to feel the squeeze.
(These figures are only approximations, and may vary from test to
test.)
Topic  % of the Test  Number of Questions 

Mechanics  34–38%  25–29 
Vectors  2%  1–2 
Kinematics  6%  4–5 
Dynamics  10%  7–8 
Work, Energy, and Power  6%  4–5 
Special Problems in Mechanics  5%  3–4 
Linear Momentum  2%  1–2 
Rotational Motion  1%  0–1 
Circular Motion and Gravitation  4%  2–4 
Thermal Physics  8–12%  6–10 
Heat and Temperature  4%  2–4 
Kinetic Theory and Ideal Gas Laws  2–3%  1–2 
Laws of Thermodynamics  1%  0–2 
Heat Engines  2–3%  1–2 
Electricity & Magnetism  22–26%  16–20 
Electric Fields, Forces, Potential  10%  7–8 
Magnetic Fields and Forces  6%  4–5 
Electromagnetic Induction  1%  1 
Circuits and Circuit Elements  6%  4–5 
Waves  15–19%  11–15 
Waves  10%  7–8 
Optics  7%  5–6 
Modern Physics  8–12%  6–9 
Special Relativity  1–2%  1–2 
Atomic Models  3%  2–3 
Quantum Physics  2%  1–2 
Nuclear Physics  3%  2–3 
Miscellaneous  2–4%  1–3 
Graph Analysis  1–2%  0–2 
Equation Manipulation  0.5–1%  0–1 
Significant Digits and Lab Skills  0.5–1%  0–1 
The chapters of this book are organized according to these
categories. If a physics topic is not in this book, you don’t need
to know it. Here’s some other helpful information:
You need to know: the formulas expressing
physical relationships (such as F = ma),
how to manipulate equations, how to read a graph
You don’t need to know: trig identities,
calculus, threedimensional vectors and graphs, physical constants
(such as G = 6.6710^{–11 }N·m^{2} ⁄
kg^{2})
