The College of Arts Sciences Search

Advanced Standing Exams

You are here


The Department of Physics offers Advanced Standing Examinations for incoming students once per year just prior to the beginning of instruction each fall semester. Each examination tests knowledge of the subject matter in one Cornell Physics course or pair of courses (course content is described below). Eligible students passing an examination will receive course credits equal in number to that usually given for completion of the Cornell course covered.

The exams are open to students who have previous physics instruction at the college level, but who have not qualified automatically for Cornell course credit through transfer credit, a CEEB Advanced Placement (AP) test, the International Baccalaureate Examination, or the General Certificate of Education (GCE) A Level Examination. See Advanced Placement.

Who should take the exams?

These Advanced Standing Examinations are taken primarily by students in one of two categories:

(1) Students with college-level physics preparation completed outside the United States, for whom it is uncertain whether course credit should be awarded at Cornell.

(2) Students in the Arts & Sciences or Engineering Colleges who have taken physics courses at 2-year community colleges. Transfer credit for A&S and Engineering is not ordinarily awarded for such courses, but credit can be earned by demonstrating mastery of the course material on a Cornell Advanced Standing Examination.

Who should not take the exams?

Students in the following categories should NOT take the Cornell Advanced Standing Examinations:

(1) Students who have already qualified for Cornell course credit in physics by virtue of a high score on one of the CEEB Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, the International Baccalaureate Exam, or the GCE A Level Exam. You have no need to take the Cornell Advanced Standing Exam.

(2) Students who have taken an Advanced Placement course but have not obtained a sufficient AP exam score to qualify for Cornell credit. The Cornell Advanced Standing Exams are not offered as a “retake” of the equivalent Advanced Placement examinations offered by the College Board.

(3) Students whose prior physics preparation consists only of high-school-level physics courses. We have found that a good high school course is not sufficient preparation for the Cornell Advanced Standing Exams, even if students have a high score on the ETS Physics Achievement Test or other examinations.

(4) Students who have taken a previous CASE exam at Cornell and did not pass.  Retakes of the same CASE exam are not permitted by the Physics department and the results will be discarded.

Students select the examinations that best fit their plans for study at Cornell. A departmental representative will be available to advise students at the exam room, approximately 30 minutes prior to testing; or one can contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies in physics at after July 1.

To be eligible for Advanced Standing Credit in Physics, based on Departmental Examination, you must both:

A. have taken in secondary school either a college-level introductory physics course or have completed independent study of physics at the college level with a physics teacher (you will be asked for the names of the school and the teachers), and

B. take and pass the appropriate physics examination.

Available Exams

The available examinations are:
1. Physics 1112 (4 credits); Engineering mechanics; calculus-based; allow 60 minutes

PHYS 1112 Physics I: Mechanics
Primarily for students of engineering and for prospective physics majors.
Course Prerequisite: co-registration in second semester calculus, or substantial previous contact with introductory calculus, combined with co-registration in first semester calculus.
Mechanics of particles: kinematics, dynamics, conservation laws, central force fields, periodic motion. Mechanics of many-particle systems: center of mass, rotational mechanics of a rigid body, static equilibrium. At the level of University Physics vol. 1, by Young and Freedman.

2. Physics 1101 and 1102 (4 credits each); algebra-based; allow 60 minutes each

PHYS 1101-1102: General Physics I & II
General introductory physics for non-physics majors.
Prerequisites: Three years of high school mathematics, including some trigonometry.
Physics 1101-1102 emphasizes quantitative and conceptual understanding of the topics of introductory physics developed without use of calculus. Major topics for 1101: kinematics, forces and dynamics, momentum, energy, fluid mechanics, waves and sound, thermal physics, kinetic theory and thermodynamics. For 1102: electricity and magnetism, optics, relativity, atomic, quantum and nuclear physics. At the level of College Physics by Giambattista, Richardson and Richardson.

3. Physics 2213 (4 credits): Engineering Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics; calculus-based; allow 60 minutes.

PHYS 2213 Physics II: Heat/Electromagnetism
Primarily for students of engineering and for prospective physics majors.
Course Prerequisites: Physics 1112 and co-registration in the continuation of the mathematics sequence.
Exam topics: Electrostatics, behavior of matter in electric fields, DC circuits, magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic oscillations. At the level of University Physics v. 1 and 2, by Young and Freedman. Note: P2213 taken at Cornell also includes Thermodynamics

4. Physics 2207 or 2208 addendum; allow 30 minutes.

PHYS 2207(8): Fundamentals of Physics I(II)
This is a calculus-based course, covering roughly the same syllabus as P1101(2). A student wishing to receive credit specifically for PHYS 2207(8) takes the PHYS 1101(2) exam and a supplementary exam that shows his or her ability to apply calculus to solving problems in physics.

5. Physics 2214 (4 credits): Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics; allow 60 minutes.

Physics III Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics
Covers physics of oscillations and wave phenomena, including driven oscillations and resonance, mechanical waves, sound waves, electromagnetic waves, reflection and transmission of waves, standing waves, beats, Doppler effect, polarization, interference, diffraction, transport of momentum and energy, wave properties of particles, and introduction to quantum physics.

We repeat that students who have earned AP credit DO NOT NEED to take an Advanced Standing Examination. Different AP tests/scores are required for credit equivalent to Phys. 1101, 1102, 1112, and 2213 at Cornell. The requirements are posted at under the section entitled Advanced Placement.

Exam Schedule

The exams will next be given on Monday, January 23, 2017 in room 294D Clark Hall at 3:00 pm. Students who have been given prior permission to take the exam by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics should arrive at this time. Other students who wish to take the exam should arrive at 2:45 pm in order to check for eligibility, and/or email