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Acceleration Formula

What are the Formulas For Calculating Acceleration?

The formula for acceleration (a) is defined as the change in velocity (v) per unit of time (t) and is expressed as:

a = Δv / Δt


Δv = (v – u), and Δt = t

and we will now end up with:

a = (v – u) / t

where Δv is the change in velocity, and Δt is the change in time. v is the final velocity, while u is the initial velocity. Thus, the acceleration formula signifies how much an object’s velocity changes over a specific time interval, and the resulting acceleration is measured in units of meters per second squared (m/s2).

Acceleration Formula

Acceleration Formula: The formula for calculating acceleration depends on the information available to you from the question.

For instance, we use the acceleration formula, a = v / t when acceleration, velocity and time are involved.

We also use the acceleration formula, a = f / m in the case of force, mass, and acceleration.

Another prominent formula that can help us to determine acceleration is a = Δv / Δt which can also be written as

a = (v – u) / t.

Acceleration is a vector quantity and the unit of measurement is in meters per second square.

Acceleration Formula
Acceleration Formula

In physics, the knowledge of how to apply equations of acceleration and solve problems is very important. This is because it helps in comprehending the behaviour of the motion of objects.

Whether it’s a falling object, a speeding car, or a projectile in flight, acceleration plays a fundamental role in describing their movement. This article will provide you with insight as to how to use the acceleration formula, its definition, and its calculations.

When an object changes its velocity, be it an increase or decrease in speed or change in direction, we refer to this change as acceleration. Therefore, this helps us to understand and measure how quickly the velocity of an object is changing over time. Thus, by examining the factors that influence acceleration and studying its formula, we can gain valuable insights into the principles governing motion.

What is Acceleration?

1. Acceleration Definition

We can define acceleration as the rate at which the velocity of an object changes over time. It is a vector quantity, which means that it has both magnitude and direction.

Additionally, the magnitude of acceleration represents the change in velocity, while the direction indicates whether the object is speeding up, slowing down, or changing direction.

Additionally, we need to understand that the magnitude of the acceleration is the size of the acceleration, and the direction of acceleration is the direction in which the object is accelerating.

2. Calculation

We can calculate acceleration by dividing the change in velocity by the time taken to undergo that change. Mathematically, the formula for acceleration is:

a = (v – u) / t

acceleration = (final velocity – initial velocity) / time

3. Acceleration Formula

Formula Explanation

The acceleration formula provides a concise way of calculating acceleration. It enables us to determine how much an object’s velocity changes over a given time interval. The formula is:

Here is the the list of acceleration formula we use in physics:

  1. a = Δv / Δt

2. a = F/m

3. a = (v – u) / t


  • a represents acceleration
  • Δv is the change in velocity
  • Δt denotes the change in time
  • F is the force
  • m is mass of an object
  • t is the time taken
  • v is the final velocity
  • u is the initial velocity

When we insert the above quantities in the appropriate values, we can easily calculate the acceleration of an object.

Units of Acceleration

1. SI Units

In the International System of Units (SI units), acceleration is measured in meters per second squared (m/s²). This unit indicates the rate at which the velocity of an object changes in meters per second over each second of time.

2. Other Common Units

Apart from the SI unit, acceleration is also measured using other units. Some common ones include feet per second squared (ft/s²) and centimetres per second squared (cm/s²).

How to Use Acceleration Formula

Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity over time. In other words, it is how quickly an object is speeding up or slowing down. The equation for acceleration is:

a = Δv / Δt


  • a is the acceleration in meters per second squared (m/s²)
  • Δv is the change in velocity in meters per second (m/s)
  • Δt is the change in time in seconds (s)

For example, if a car starts at 20 m/s and accelerates to 30 m/s in 5 seconds, its acceleration is 2 m/s².

Acceleration can be positive, negative, or zero. Positive acceleration means that an object is speeding up, negative acceleration means that an object is slowing down, and zero acceleration means that an object is moving at a constant velocity.

Acceleration is an important concept in physics, and it is used in many different applications. For example, acceleration is used to calculate the speed of a car, the distance a car travels, and the force required to stop a car.

Acceleration Formula: Solved Problems

Here are some solved examples of how to calculate acceleration:

Problem 1

A car starts at 20 m/s and accelerates to 30 m/s in 5 seconds. What is the car’s acceleration?


Using the acceleration equation, we have:

a = Δv / Δt = (30 m/s – 20 m/s) / 5 s = 2 m/s²

Therefore, the car’s acceleration is 2 m/s².

Problem 2

A ball is thrown straight up into the air with an initial velocity of 20 m/s. After 2 seconds, the ball’s velocity is 10 m/s. What is the ball’s acceleration?


The ball’s initial velocity is 20 m/s and its final velocity is 10 m/s. The change in time is 2 seconds. Therefore, the ball’s acceleration is:

a = Δv / Δt = (10 m/s – 20 m/s) / 2 s = -5 m/s²

Since the acceleration is negative, we know that the ball is slowing down.

Problem 3

A motorcycle starting from rest moves with uniform acceleration until it attains a speed of 108 km/h after 15 seconds.Find its acceleration.

Data: The information from the question

Speed = 108 km/h = (108 x 1000) / (60 x 60) = 30 m/s

Initial velocity, u = 0

Final velocity, v = 30 m/s

Time, t = 15 s

Unknown: What we need to find

Acceleration, a = ?

Formula: The equation that will help us solve the problem

a = (v – u) / t


a = (30 – 0) / 15 = 2 m/s2

Therefore, the acceleration is 2 meters per second square.

Problem 4

A car accelerates from 0.54 km/h to 0.72 km/h in 10 seconds. It is acceleration is

Data: The information from the question

Initial velocity, u = 0.54 km/h = (0.54 x 1000) / (60 x 60) = 0.15 m/s

Final velocity, v = 0.72 km/h = (0.72 x 1000) / (60 x 60) = 0.2 m/s

Time, t = 10 s

Unknown: Unavailable information from the question

Acceleration, a = ?

Formula: Equation that will help us solve the problem

a = (v – u) / t


We will now insert our data into the formula

a = (v – u) / t = (0.2 – 0.15) / 10 = 0.005 m/s2

Examples and Applications

We will now have a look at a few examples and applications of acceleration to better understand its significance in various situations.

Example 1: Falling Object

Consider a free-falling object near the surface of the Earth. Due to the force of gravity, the object experiences a constant acceleration of approximately 9.8 m/s² downward. Therefore, this acceleration remains constant unless influenced by other factors such as air resistance.

Example 2: Car Acceleration

When a car accelerates, it experiences a change in velocity over time. The acceleration of a car depends on various factors, including the engine power, weight of the car, and road conditions. Thus, by applying the equation for acceleration, we can determine how quickly the car’s velocity increases or decreases.

Example 3: Projectile Motion

In projectile motion, an object is launched into the air and moves along a curved path under the influence of gravity. Understanding acceleration is essential in analyzing the motion of projectiles such as a thrown ball or a fired cannonball. Therefore, when we consider the vertical and horizontal components of acceleration, we can accurately predict their trajectory.

Relationship between Acceleration and Velocity

Acceleration and velocity are closely related in the context of motion. While velocity represents the speed and direction of an object’s motion, acceleration quantifies how quickly that velocity changes. If the acceleration is positive, the velocity increases; if it’s negative, the velocity decreases. A zero acceleration indicates a constant velocity.

Acceleration vs. Deceleration

Acceleration refers to any change in velocity, whether it’s an increase or a decrease. However, when the velocity decreases, it is often referred to as deceleration. Deceleration or retardation is simply a negative acceleration, indicating a decrease in speed or a change in a direction opposite to the initial motion. Additionally, it’s important to note that deceleration is still a form of acceleration with a negative sign.

Acceleration in Physics Laws

Acceleration plays an important role in several fundamental physics laws. For example, Newton’s second law of motion states that the force acting on an object is directly proportional to its mass and acceleration. This relationship, expressed as F = ma, highlights the significance of acceleration in understanding the dynamics of objects.

Factors Affecting Acceleration

Various factors influence acceleration:

  • Force: The application of a force on an object can cause it to accelerate.
  • Mass: Objects with larger masses require more force to accelerate compared to lighter objects.
  • Friction: Frictional forces can oppose the motion of an object, affecting its acceleration.
  • Air Resistance: In scenarios involving air, objects experience resistance, altering their acceleration.

Understanding these factors helps explain why different objects accelerate at different rates.

Importance of Acceleration

Acceleration is a fundamental concept in physics and has significant practical implications. It allows us to analyze and predict the motion of objects, design vehicles with optimal acceleration capabilities, and understand the forces at play in various physical phenomena. Therefore, mastery of acceleration is important for fields such as engineering, transportation, and sports.


Acceleration is a fundamental concept in physics that describes the rate at which an object’s velocity changes over time. By understanding acceleration and its applications, we can gain valuable insights into the behaviour of objects in motion. Whether it’s analyzing the movement of falling objects, cars, or projectiles, acceleration plays a crucial role in understanding and predicting their dynamics. By mastering the concept of acceleration, we can unlock a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the different units used to measure acceleration? Acceleration is commonly measured in meters per second squared (m/s²) in the International System of Units (SI). However, other units such as feet per second squared (ft/s²) and centimetres per second squared (cm/s²) are also used.

2. Can acceleration be negative? Yes, acceleration can be negative. A negative acceleration, often referred to as deceleration, indicates a decrease in velocity or a change in a direction opposite to the initial motion.

3. How does acceleration relate to force? According to Newton’s second law of motion, force is directly proportional to the product of an object’s mass and acceleration. In other words, a greater force results in a greater acceleration, given the same mass.

4. Are acceleration and velocity the same? Acceleration and velocity are related but distinct concepts. Velocity refers to the rate of change of displacement, while acceleration measures the rate of change of velocity. Velocity includes both speed and direction, whereas acceleration focuses on the change in speed or direction.

5. How is acceleration applied in real-life situations? Acceleration has numerous real-life applications. It is important in designing vehicles with efficient acceleration capabilities, understanding the motion of objects in sports, analyzing the forces acting on structures during earthquakes, and predicting the behaviour of celestial bodies in space.

Practice Questions

1. What is negative acceleration? Negative acceleration, also known as deceleration, refers to a decrease in velocity over time. It occurs when an object slows down or changes direction opposite to its initial motion.

2. Can an object have acceleration without a change in speed? Yes, an object can have acceleration without a change in speed. This occurs when the object changes direction while maintaining a constant speed. Acceleration, in this case, is due to the change in the direction of the velocity.

3. How does acceleration affect an object in circular motion? In a circular motion, acceleration is directed towards the centre of the circle and is responsible for changing the object’s direction. This type of acceleration is called centripetal acceleration.

4. What is the difference between average acceleration and instantaneous acceleration? Average acceleration refers to the total change in velocity divided by the total time taken. Instantaneous acceleration, on the other hand, refers to the acceleration at a specific moment in time.

5. How is acceleration measured in practical situations? In practical situations, we can use various instruments to measure acceleration. Accelerometers, commonly found in smartphones and vehicles, detect changes in acceleration and provide precise measurements. Other methods include using motion sensors, radar systems, and specialized equipment in scientific experiments.

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