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Calc 1 & Physics 1 Concurrently ?

  1. Jul 26, 2010 #1
    Hello all, I am heading back to school after 8 years to complete some Pre-Req course that will allow me to get into a Master's program. I have taken Pre-Calc over the summer and recieved an A. Is Physics 1 eaiser or harder, when you take Calc 1 concurrently?

    Thanks for any insight,

    Ernest G
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2010 #2
    Much easier, if it's a calculus-based physics program. It's no coincidence that the discovery of calculus occurred simultaneously with the beginnings of modern physics.
  4. Jul 26, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    At most US universities, the calculus-based intro physics course is taught under the assumption that many or most students are concurrently taking Calculus 1. You won't get any heavy calculus exercises that involve grinding out complicated derivatives or integrals. The calculus is mainly used for conceptual purposes, and to simplify derivations.
  5. Jul 26, 2010 #4

    In my physics one course it was possible to do everything without using calculus. Anything you don't get conceptually during physics, you'll learn in calc one anyway.
  6. Jul 26, 2010 #5
    You really don't need but a few things from calculus to understand calc-based physics. This is what you really should try to know beforehand:

    Concept of a limit
    Finding tangent lines/derivatives and what that means
    Figuring out how to write a sum and how that translates to an integral

    That's about it. The rest will be helpful, but those will help you the most in understanding why derivations work the way they do.
  7. Jul 26, 2010 #6
    What I really meant is do you recomend taking them the same semester, or take Calc 1 this fall and Physics 1 in the spring.

    Thanks for the response's already.

    Ernest G
  8. Jul 26, 2010 #7
    Sure, take 'em both. Loads of people do.
  9. Jul 26, 2010 #8
    calc 2 and physics 1 together makes more sense IMO
  10. Jul 26, 2010 #9
    At most colleges calc-based physics requires calc 1 as a co-requisite (not prerequisite). I took them both together at the same time and did fine. Yes, taking calculus 1 first would have some minor benefits, but nothing substantial you couldn't do in self-study anyway. This is at most colleges, as far as I know. Why don't you email the physics professor?
  11. Jul 26, 2010 #10
    I can't say so far as the difficulty, but I'm doing just that this fall...Calc 1 and Physics 1. :) I could have taken credit for calc though, so I guess I know some calc already.
    Edit-at my school the general idea is to take calc 1 in the fall and then calc 2 and physics 1 in the spring, for engineering majors.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  12. Jul 26, 2010 #11
    Assuming you aren't working full time, you could do both courses no problem. The catch with classes like Calculus and Physics are the time constraints. Where I went, you would need to spend more than 2 hours per credit hour outside of class studying. But, I was a Chem. major so what do I know.
  13. Jul 26, 2010 #12
    calc 1 is a prereq for Physics I here and calc2 is the coreq
  14. Jul 26, 2010 #13
    I'm taking Calc I this semester then Physics I and Calc II next semester. From what I've been told it's better to do it this way for the Physics II/Calc III (Intro E&M) lineup.
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