Force Concept Inventory (FCI)

Developed by David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, Gregg Swackhamer, Ibrahim Halloun, Richard Hake, and Eugene Mosca

Purpose To assess students’ understanding of the most basic concepts in Newtonian physics using everyday language and common-sense distractors.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Mechanics Content knowledge (forces, kinematics)
Level Intro college, High school
Login or Register to Download Downloads are restricted to high school and college faculty.

Sample question from the FCI:


FCI Implementation and Troubleshooting Guide

Everything you need to know about implementing the FCI in your class.

Login or register to download the implementation guide.

D. Hestenes, M. Wells, and G. Swackhamer, Force concept inventory, Phys. Teach. 30 (3), 141 (1992).
more details
Gold Star Validation
This is the highest level of research validation, corresponding to all seven of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

About half of the questions on the FCI come from an earlier assessment called the Mechanics Diagnostic Test (MDT). Questions on the MDT were developed using students ideas from open-ended responses. These questions were then reviewed by experts, refined through student interviews and given to over 1000 students. Statistical analysis of the reliability of the MDT was conducted and the pre- and post-test were found to be highly reliable. For those FCI questions not taken directly from the MDT, open-ended responses and responses given by students in interviews were compared to ensure the questions were being interpreted correctly. Since its release, over 50 studies have been published using the FCI at both the high school and college level at over 70 institutions and including data on over 35,000 students. Most notable is the study by Hake (1998) comparing FCI scores based on instructional method for over 6500 students.


PhysPort provides translations of assessments as a service to our users, but does not endorse the accuracy or validity of translations. Assessments validated for one language and culture may not be valid for other languages and cultures.

Language Translator(s)  
Arabic Hisham A. Alhadlaq
Bengali Pradipta Panchadhyayee and Ananda Dasgupta
Catalan Carme Parellada and Joan Garin
Chinese Guo Chenyue (China - simplified); Hsing-Kuo (Taiwan - traditional)
Croatian Maja Planinic, Lana Ivanjek, and Ana Susac
Czech J. Burešová, D. Mandíková, Odborná revize překladu: L. Dvořák, V. Žák, E. Hejnová, J. Králík
Dutch Eddy Carette
Filipino Danilo A. Tadeo Jr
Finnish Ismo Koponen and Johanna Jauhiainen
French Nathaniel Lasry (Canada); Bernard Blandin, Research Director, CESI (France)
German Christian Kautz based on a translation of the first version by H. Schecker and J. Gerdes
Greek Constantine Naoum
Hebrew Kobi Shvarzbord
Hindi Himanshu K. Pandey and Vijay A. Singh
Hungarian Gergely Nádori
Icelandic Ragnheiður Guðmundsdóttir
Indonesian Syuhendri
Italian Leonardo Colletti
Japanese Ishimoto, Uematsu, Tsukamoto, Nitta and Lang
Malay Jaafar Jantan, Ph.D.
Norwegian Dr. Carl Angell & colleagues at English School Laboratory at University of Oslo
Persian Masoumeh Ghasemi
Polish Andrzej (Andrew) Lewicki, Ph.D.
Portuguese Inês Leitão and Luis Breda (Portugal); Debora Cantergi (Brazil)
Punjabi Kulwinder Singh Mann and Ashish Kapoor
Russian Igor Proleiko, modified by Jozef Hanc
Slovak Josef Hanč, J. Tóth
Spanish Enrique Macia-Barber, Maria Victoria Hernandez, and Jose Menendez
Swedish Jonte Bernhard ( to access, contact )  
Tamil Bergin.G and Uthra Dorairajan
Thai Pornrat Wattanakasiwich
Turkish Öğretme, Çiçek, Duran, Günneç, Köksal, Türkay

If you know of a translation that we don't have yet, or if you would like to translate this assessment, please contact us!

Login or register to download the answer key and an excel scoring and analysis tool for this assessment.

Score the FCI on the PhysPort Data Explorer

With one click, you get a comprehensive analysis of your results. You can:

  • Examine your most recent results
  • Chart your progress over time
  • Breakdown any assessment by question or cluster
  • Compare between courses
Typical Results

This figure from Von Korff et al. 2016 presents typical FCI normalized gains for two different teaching method types, interactive engagement and traditional lecture, for US and Canadian college students at a wide variety of institution and class types. Courses taught using interactive engagement methods have higher normalized gains than those taught using traditional lecture. These results are from a metaanalysis of FCI gains for 31,000 students in 450 classes, published in 63 papers. The FCI has also been given to tens of thousands of students in high school and outside of the US, who are not included in this study. The average normalized gain is 0.39 for interactive engagement and 0.22 for traditional lecture.

FCI Typical Results

The latest version of the FCI, released in 1995, is called v95. This version has 30 questions and fewer ambiguities and a smaller likelihood of false positives’ than the original version (Hake 1998). The original 1992 version has 29 questions (Hestenes et al. 1992). The 1992 version was a revision of an earlier assessment called the Mechanics Diagnostic Test (MDT) (Halloun & Hestenes 1985).

There are also several variations of the FCI. All of the following variations have the same answer key as v95:

Another variation is less similar to FCI:

  • The Representational Variant of the FCI takes nine questions from the original FCI and redesigns them using various representations (such as motion map, vectorial and graphical), yielding 27 multiple-choice questions concerning Newton's first, second, and third laws, and gravitation. (Nieminen 2010)


Representational Variant of the Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (graphing, kinematics, forces, multiple representations)
High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

Gender FCI

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces)
Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

Mechanics Baseline Test

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces, energy, momentum)
Intro college, High school

Simplified Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces)
High school, Middle school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

Familiar Context Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces)
Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

Half-length Force Concept Inventory

Content knowledge Mechanics (kinematics, forces)
Intro college, High school
Pre/post, Multiple-choice

PhysPort Data Explorer

Screenshot of the Data Explorer
Explore assessment data