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Courses Can I catch up on physics 1 & 2 in 3 months?

  1. Jan 21, 2017 #1
    So I am currently an ME major at CC. I am probably going to transfer to a university to study physics next fall but there is one problem...

    I took physics 1 & 2 at a community college that is very heavily focused on their engineering program. Because of this, I only learned things in physics 1 & 2 that applied to mechanical and electrical engineering. I barely learned any theory, in fact, I am just now learning in my dynamics class that the kinematics equations are derived from the basic relations of acceleration, velocity, and position using calculus. Instead of explaining them, my professor just gave us the equations and told us to memorize them.

    I want to say that I know 50-60% of what I should know coming out of physics 1 & 2, and this is with my understanding of statics, dynamics, thermo and mechanics of materials from my engineering classes.

    As mentioned, I am behind because my teacher did not require us to learn all of the material. I got high A's in both classes and have a 3.97 GPA in my A.S. of Mechanical Engineering.

    My question is, do you think it would be possible for me to catch up on everything that I missed over the summer? I will not be working at all this summer; however, I will be taking linear algebra.

    Also, which textbook should I use to study calc based physics 1 and 2 over the summer? Apparently the one my school uses is horrible.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2017 #2
    Why can't you just retake physics in the university?
  4. Jan 21, 2017 #3
    because that would result in me spending an extra year at university for no reason

    well, not for no reason, I would obviously get caught up, but if I can just learn most of it in the summer and then catch all of the small things while I advance through my degree, I might as well do that.
  5. Jan 21, 2017 #4
    OK, good point. But we can't really give you an answer. Some people can catch this up in 3 months, other can't. It depends on you. You should definitely try it. Study a lot and try to get caught up. If it works it works. That's the best we can tell you.
  6. Jan 21, 2017 #5
    I think you could get caught up on the material in a year sequence Physics 1 and 2 in one summer, if you commit yourself to it. I do not know your financial situation but maybe you can employ a tutor, particularly, a tutor who has taught Physics 1 and 2 at the college/university level. That way, you would have some structure to do the preparation, and be confident that you are making good use of your time. If your estimate, that you already are comfortable with 50-60 % of the material is a good estimate, catching up on the remaining part over the summer sounds like it is doable, but I do think a tutor would increase your chances.
  7. Jan 21, 2017 #6


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    My opinion is that you cannot review Physics 1 & 2 in three months. You should be able to review Physics 1 (Mechanics?) in three months and maybe do the Physics 2 (Electricity & Magnetism?) again in the university.
  8. Jan 21, 2017 #7
    I think you're right. I don't think it would be a problem for me to get most of it done over the summer. It will just take a lot of motivation lol. And I actually teach myself nearly everything from the book, so the textbook will be my personal tutor!
    I'm really not trying to act like I already know the answer to my own question, because I just now thought of this, but if I actually am only 40% behind in those classes, and the summer semesters at my school are 10 weeks long as apposed to the 15 week semesters in the fall and spring, I would technically only need .4*(30 weeks) = 12 weeks to learn all of the material. And that is considering that I have the same course load as I do in the semester which isn't true; since I'm only taking 1 class this seems doable.

    We'll see if I can actually stay motived to study that much over the summer though lol.
  9. Jan 21, 2017 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    There's a book Tsokos on IB Physics that might get you there with concentrated study and independent research online:


    This is first year physics basically.

    Be aware that upper level physics courses are completely different stressing first principles and deriving the equations that are taught in physics 1 and 2.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  10. Jan 21, 2017 #9
    Shankar's Fundamentals of Physics lectures are on YouTube, and the Yale Open Courses site has .zip files with the exercises for the course. You can get help in the homework subforum here with any exercises you have trouble with.

    A suggestion: You could start now at a slow pace to get a head start. That would be helped by the fact that the easiest material is at the beginning of Fundamentals of Physics I. Then you could ramp up to a winter-term level pace of two or three lectures per day during the summer.
  11. Jan 22, 2017 #10


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    As an M.E. major, why are you overly concerned here (the strict time limit)? You'll likely never take a physics course from the physics department at university. Most of your courses there will probably be heavy into applications and calculations anyway.

    Not deriving the kinematic equations wasn't because it was an engineering focused course, it was likely you just had a poor teacher or a college that incorrectly set prerequisites, in my opinion.

    Learning more about physics is definitely something thats worth doing, I just wouldn't stress about doing it in three months.

    Edit: Never mind! I apparently can't read, I see you're transferring for physics. In that case, it would be helpful at this point to maybe review Feynmans lectures or one of the other suggestions here. If you have three months of dead time, you could probably make it through them.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2017
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