top of page

Courses for USAPhO

USAPhO training course (2023 March-April)


Topics covered in this course: mechanics, electricity and magnetism (EM), special relativity


Teaching format: For mechanics and EM, we will go over some previous years problems. But we will provide insights into how to approach those problems and key problem-solving skills. For special relativity, we will start from beginning without assuming students to have any background.


Schedule 1pm - 2:30pm (Eastern time) on 03/11, 03/18, 03/25, 04/01.


Venue: Zoom

Who may consider to take this course:


  • 2023 USAPhO qualifiers (have received scores 18 or above in 2023 F=ma).

  • Do not qualifier for 2023 USAPhO. But the goal is to qualify for the 2024 USAPhO.

Why choosing us (Q&A format):

Question: I can find AAPT's official solutions of previous years problems. Is there any additional value I can derive from your course?

Response: Yes. Reasons are three-fold.


First, many AAPT's solutions are too brief. Many intermediate steps (essentially key steps) are missing. Many students do not know how to fill up those steps. Thus, if they independently solved those problems, they would be stuck in the middle.

Second, some solutions lack intuition. After reading them, we still have no idea where those creative ideas came from. That being said, when we see another similar problem, we still have no clue how to solve it.


For example, in 2020 A2 Part (a), the AAPT's solution just tells us the solution that the spherical pendulum's horizontal motion (when the z-component motion is small) is a two-dimensional harmonic motion with the same frequency. However, the AAPT's solution provides no reason how this is derived. It is not intuitive to easily realize this fact. Therefore, in our class, while teaching this problem, we will show students how to use physics intuition and laws and math reasonings to establish this result.

Third, we teach different problems in an integrated way, rather than treating them as individual and separate problems. Problems in different years and in different physics branches (mechanics, EM, etc.) may be intrinsically connected. They may share the same intuitions or similar problem-solving skills. In our training course, when we go through one problem, we will show students how the insights, knowledge and skills derived from a single problem can be applied to many other problems.

For example, (1) 2020 A2 and 2021 B3 are both dynamics problems with spherical coordinates. (2) 2020 A2 and 2021 B1 both require the skill of transformation between Cartesian and cylindrical coordinates. (3) 2018 B1, 2017 B1 and 2016 B2 are all dimensional analysis. (4) 2020 A1 and 2021 A3 are about energy and momentum in electromagnetic fields. In our course, we will integrate multiple problems in the same type together and explain their connections. 

Question: Why does your course have the special relativity topic?

Response: The special relativity problems frequently appeared in recent years' USAPhO contests. The physics diagrams and math tools for the special relativity problems are quite different from those canonical topics, such as mechanics, EM. It is not very likely that a student can independently solve these problems without learning new physics insights and math tools.



bottom of page