UT Austin Exam in Physics: Mechanics

The UT Austin Physics: Mechanics exam for credit can enable students with eligible scores to test out of PHY 301 and 101L; OR 303K and 103M; OR 317K and 117M.

The total working time for the exam is 90 minutes. Calculus is used freely in formulating principles and in solving problems.

Essential elements to be studied in preparation for this exam are mechanics, fluids, and waves, specifically:

  • Vectors (vector algebra, components, coordinate systems)
  • Kinematics (calculus of velocity and acceleration vectors, projectile motion, circular motion)
  • Particle dynamics (Newton’s laws and their application, frictional forces, centripetal forces)
  • Work (integral form of the work-energy theorem, potential energy, conservative forces)
  • Momentum (conservation of momentum, center of mass)
  • Collisions (impulse, isolated systems, and momentum conservation; elastic and inelastic collisions)
  • Rigid body motion (torque, moment of inertia, angular momentum, and its conservation)
  • Gravitation and planetary motion
  • Oscillations (simple harmonic motion, energy in oscillations)
  • Fluids (static and dynamic)
  • Waves (mechanical and sound)

Where and When to Take the Exam

This exam is given on the UT Austin campus only, and it is offered just before the first summer session, just before the fall semester, and just before the spring semester. Visit the Test Registration System to view and register for upcoming test dates.

Exceptions: 

The use of a hand calculator or any formula sheet is not permitted for any part of the examination. The questions are designed and graded to minimize the amount of arithmetic computation required.

Registration Fee: 

The total of the fees for the test is $85. When you register for a test, you will immediately be billed for the non-refundable test registration fee of $25. After you take the test, you will be billed for the test fee of $60. Payments are due within 14 days of the billing date. All fees are subject to change.

Course Description: 

UT Austin's Department of Physics has several sequences of introductory courses. The most appropriate sequence for you is determined, in part, by your major. Because these sequences cover similar material, the corresponding courses are considered to be duplicates; duplicate courses cannot be counted without prior approval of the department. Complete information about courses is available from the Student Office in the Department of Physics.

Course sequences for which credit may be earned through regularly scheduled tests are as follows:

General Technical Courses

Physics 302K, 102M, 302L, 102N: Technical courses for students who need general courses in physics. These courses are appropriate for Allied Health majors and pre-dental students but are not recommended for pre-med and pre-vet students. These courses are also required for architecture students. Architecture will also accept Physics 303K and 103M, and 303L and 103N.

Courses for Majors in Engineering, Computer Science, and Science, and for Pre-Med Concentrations (Calculus-Based)

Physics 303K, 103M, 303L, 103N: Physics for engineering and Bachelor of Science in geology

Physics 301, 101L, 316, 116L: Physics for majors in physics, astronomy, biochemistry, chemistry, computer sciences, geophysics, and microbiology

Physics 317K, 117M, 317L, 117N: Physics for pre-med and pre-vet students and students in other sciences.

Tests Used by UT Austin

Students who wish to attempt to earn credit by examination in physics have the following options:

Physics 302K, 102M and/or 302L, 102N

  • SAT Subject Test in Physics
  • AP Exam in Physics B
  • AP Exam in Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Exam in Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • IB Higher-Level Exam in Physics

Physics 301, 101L or 303K, 103M or 317K, 117M

  • AP Exam in Physics C: Mechanics
  • UT Austin Exam for Credit in Physics: Mechanics

Physics 316, 116L or 303L, 103N or 317L, 117N

  • AP Exam in Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • UT Austin Exam for Credit in Physics: Electricity and Magnetism

Physics 309K and 309L

  • IB Higher Level Examination in Physics

Study Aids: 

Although the UT Austin exam in Physics: Mechanics is not based on a specific textbook, the following books include material necessary to successfully complete the tests and would be appropriate for study and review.

For students seeking credit in Physics 303K:

Raymond A. Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Serway/Jewett, Physics for Scientist & Engineers, Saunders College Publishing, 6th or later editions, or

Douglas C. Giancoli, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Prentice Hall College Div., 3rd edition, 2000.

For students seeking credit in Physics 301:

Robert Resnick, David Halliday, and Richard Krane, Vols 1&2, 5th edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002, or later editions.

Test Results and Retakes: 

Test results are available within a few days after the test date, in time to register for classes.

You may take the UT Austin Exam in Physics: Mechanics test only once.

UT Austin CoursesNotes
PHY 301 and 101L; or PHY 303K and 103M; or PHY 317K and 117MNo cut scores are publicized for this test.