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Extent of importance of Year 1 Physics

  1. May 14, 2014 #1
    How important are first year undergrad physics courses (in the UK) in the larger scheme of things? Is it enough to have a general understanding of the concepts, or does one have to be able to solve very tough problems as well?

    Does an understanding of modern physics crucially depend on this? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2014 #2
    Im from the US, but I think that in either country or anywhere the ability to solve the very tough problems is crucial to future success in physics. Concepts are easy, anybody can get those. Real problem solving takes time and effort and slacking on that will get you nowhere in physics. (In addition, it can be argued that deep and meaningful understanding of concepts cannot happen without the ability to solve the tough problems. Concepts are easy at a superficial level.)

    Are you a physics major? If so then your goal should absolutely include being able to solve the tough problems in freshman physics. That's not to say it should be easy or come naturally. But having the interest and drive to figure it out and get it done is what will keep you going when the material actually gets hard.
  4. May 14, 2014 #3


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    "Very tough" is a relative standard.

    You need to be able to solve the sort of problem which will be on your first-year exams. It is in your interest to do as much practice in solving such problems as you reasonably can. The more practice you do, the more likely it is that these problems will become "straightforward" rather than "tough" or "very tough".

    Concepts build on concepts, so you will need what you learn in the first year later. The other factor is how much your first year results contribute to your final degree classification.
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
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