The Onsite Exam

The onsite portion of PUPC is an individual exam which contains several advanced mechanics problems. The exam challenges students to think out of the box and apply their knowledge at a deeper level than in conventional high school physics problems.

The 2018 PUPC Onsite Test will be held on Sunday, November 18, 2018.

In addition to the exam held on the campus of Princeton University, we have three international chapters which will host concurrent exams.


Only individual contestants will be allowed to participate in the PUPC onsite session.

Individuals must not be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary institution prior to the start of the competition (i.e., you are currently a high school student or have not yet begun undergraduate studies).

All individuals must be registered to compete.

Individuals may also choose to register for the online portion, if desired. The two parts are entirely separate and have no bearing on each other whatsoever.

Depending on the number of registrations it may be necessary to cap the number of participants or to hold simple preliminary rounds to assure the highest-quality competitors. It is to your advantage to register as soon as possible. Please note that if you register, you are expected to arrive on site on the day of PUPC; if your availability changes later, please notify us as soon as possible by e-mailing In case of a no-show without advance notice, there is a high chance you will not be permitted to participate again.

Coordination with PUMaC

PUPC and the Princeton University Mathematics Competition (PUMaC) are usually held on separate days of the same weekend. This will allow competitors to comfortably compete in both PUPC and PUMaC with no time conflicts. For those who intend to compete in both the PUPC Onsite Test and PUMaC, rest assured that you will have plenty of time to relax, cool down, and be prepared for a whole day of physics!


For the onsite exam, competitors may only use scientific calculators. The exam will not require heavy numerical calculation. Instead, it will focus on derivation and understanding the structure of the physics. Hence, computational tools beyond pure scientific calculators will be unnecessary.

Note: If you are unsure of what calculator is permitted, please e-mail us at


The onsite exam will be graded on the day of the onsite competition. Partial credit will be given and, in the case of a tie, preference will be given to the student with the more elegant solution.


We will be recommending hotels with discounted rates for competitors, please check back soon.

Princeton University also provides a list of nearby hotels.