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GRE Physics Subject Test Course Equivalents

  1. Aug 17, 2015 #1
    I'm trying to make a check list of courses I need to study and review for the GRE Physics Subject Test. I have a few questions following the list. Thank-you for any help.

    Engineering Physics I
    Engineering Physics II
    Modern Physics
    Electricity & Magnetism
    Statistical Mechanics & Thermodynamics
    Quantum Mechanics

    The GRE says Electromagnetism. Do courses called Electricity & Magnetism usually cover the same thing? Is undergraduate Electrodynamics usually the same thing too?

    Are Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations learned from a specific course or learned spread out over several courses? I've seen some colleges with undergraduate courses titled Classical Mechanics, Physical Mechanics or Classical Dynamics. Which of these is for learning Lagrangian and Hamiltonian? Again, are dedicated courses over Lagrangian and Hamiltonian common, or are they spread out over many courses?

    Do I need to study both statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics, or just statistical mechanics and non-statistical thermodynamics (i.e. basic thermodynamic systems)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2015 #2
    Yes, Electromagnetism is the same thing as Electricity and Magnetism. Most undergrads offer two semesters of it - in my experience, except for a few rare questions only the first semester is needed for the pGRE.

    For Lagrangians and Hamiltonians, that's typically "Classical Mechanics". Whether these are learned in the first or second semester is heavily dependent on the school, it may be best to ask your CM professor about that. Although for the GRE, only a cursory knowledge of Lagrangians and Hamiltonians is required, you could easily learn it on your own (I am horrible at self-teaching, but I did this, and it is not difficult).

    For thermo, this is my own personal experience, but a basic knowledge of basic thermodynamic systems and stat mech will carry you far. You can do quite well just by memorizing equations, and the details of the beloved Carnot cycle.

    For the GRE, it may help you at this point to get a book like "Conquering the Physics GRE" as opposed to going over all the undergrad textbooks. This book gives a basic overview of all of the things that are on the test, and also includes practice tests. If nothing else, it will give you a good idea of what's on the exam, and then you can study in depth more on your own.

    Again, keep in mind I'm only an undergrad, and it does no good to answer your questions on "what courses cover what" since they vary between schools. Try asking your advisor.
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