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C+ in E&M1 and C in Mechanics, should I retake Mechanics or take E&M 2

  1. Jul 15, 2013 #1
    I have been learning a lot of the Math in parallel with Physics so I'm not sure how many of my issues are Physics issues or Math issues. I feel like some of my Physics issues could be Mechanics issues. Is it better to retake Mechanics or move on to EM 2.

    If I do take EM 2 I'm wondering specifically about what Math concepts I can go over to prepare. I felt very unprepared for solving second order non-linear partial differential equations in EM 1 since we only go up to ordinary differential equations at my school.

    Also, would taking a Math Proofs class help me in Physics? Because of all the derivations?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2013 #2


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    At what stage are you now? Have you taken vector calculus yet? How did you do in single-variable calculus? Was E&M1 in parallel with mechanics?

    Regardless, I recommend really getting to know the math well, so the physics comes easier for you.

    A basic proof course with logic and some combinatorics could be useful in general, but more specific proof courses like real analysis will be a complete waste of time for you, you just don't need to know them for what you are learning.
  4. Jul 16, 2013 #3
    I think you're missing something. A course in E&M 2 will generally assume that you have a good knowledge of E&M 1. If you had a C+ in E&M 1, then this indicates to me that your knowledge of the course isn't very sound.

    So the question is, do you know enough of E&M 1 to be capable of doing well in E&M 2?
  5. Jul 16, 2013 #4
    I'm a junior. I got a C in vector calculus and a B- in single variable. Mechanics was last fall and EM was last spring.

    Would it be more valuable to retake mechanics or study for EM2.

    In EM 1 I would usually have trouble starting problems.

    should I review mechanics for EM 2 as well because of em waves?

    I'm really wondering if I should retake Mechanics or just study up on it.
  6. Jul 16, 2013 #5


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    I got news for you. Solving second order non-linear PDEs is not something you can do at the drop of a hat. There seems to be something off with your school. It seems like the Physics department is running rings around the Math department.
  7. Jul 16, 2013 #6


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    2nd order nonlinear PDEs in EM1? What?
  8. Jul 16, 2013 #7


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    It's up to you if you think doing mechanics again will help. On the one hand, you know more math now, so it should sink in better this time. On the other hand, perhaps your school doesn't teach it that well and doing it a second time would leave you where you are now, I don't know.

    If it was me, I would buy the best book I could, find out what there is that I don't know, what there is that I could learn taking the course a second time, and then decide, or weigh it against some catching up in private. You have brilliant forums here to help you if you want to do some catching up.

    Ask for book recommendations if you need them.
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