USAPhO

The United States National Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) is a physics competition run by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The competition consists of the preliminary F=ma contest in mechanics, followed by the USAPhO exam which covers nearly all areas of physics.


Preparation

F=ma

The number one recommended preparation book for the F=ma competition is David Morin's Problems and Solutions in Introductory Mechanics. Doing the problems in this book should prepare you to qualify for USAPhO, assuming you already have some background in mechanics. However, knowing the mechanics chapters in any standard calculus-based physics textbook well should ensure you get a decent score. It's also a good idea to do the past tests so you can get used to the competition format.


USAPhO

Books

For the USAPhO you will need a more general physics knowledge base. Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick, and Walker is recommended for breadth of knowledge. An alternative is Young's University Physics.

Once you have a solid foundation, move onto books like Kleppner and Kolenkow's An Introduction to Mechanics, Morin's Introduction to Classical Mechanics, Purcell and Morin's Electricity and Magnetism, and Fermi's Thermodynamics (first 4 chapters).

Problems

Do the past tests to get a sense of the types of questions asked, and time yourself so you know how long it takes you to solve each problem. POPTOR is another good resource for olympiad-style problems in almost all areas of physics.

Dates

F=ma

The registration deadline for F=ma is around the second week of December, so sign up well before that. The F=ma is administered in late January. In 2019 it will be administered on Wednesday the 23rd and Friday the 25th at LHS.

USAPhO

The USAPhO testing date was historically in mid-March, but has more recently been moved to early April. Check the website for details.

Camp

The training camp takes place at the University of Maryland, in late May. It lasts 11 days.

IPhO

This year, the 50th IPhO will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel from July 7-15.

LHS participation

The following past and present LHS students have qualified for the USAPhO semifinal exam. Many of them have also won medals on that exam since the practice began in 2013. A few have qualified for the training camp.

2003

2004

2005

None

2006

  • Malcolm Campbell

2007

  • Daniel Fudenberg

2008

2009

None (though some quarterfinalists)

2010

  • Jaeyoon Lee
  • Theodore Liu
  • Michael Watterson

2011

  • Kathleen Donahue
  • Keegan Go
  • Carl Lian

2012

  • Matthew Arbesfeld
  • Yoshiaki Kuida
  • Jason Li
  • Amy Zhang

2013

2014

2015

2016

  • Clive Chan (silver)
  • Maxwell Shen Molesky
  • Eric Xia (bronze)

2017

  • Anka Hu (honorable mention)

2018

  • Louie Golowich (silver)
  • Derik Kauffman (silver)
  • Joshua Park (gold)
  • Peter Rowley (bronze)

External links