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Studying How Can I go about learning physics in under 2 months? (starting undergrad in Feb 2018)

  1. Nov 9, 2017 #1
    I know it may sound ridiculous but I hope you can give me some great advice.

    I am starting undergrad school next year (end of feb). I’m doing a physics degree and well here’s my dilemma....

    I left school at 17 because of health issues and next year will be the first time I’ll be in education since leaving school. My math was poor in high school so over the past few months I’ve been refreshing and learning mathematics on my own. I still have a way to go but need some advice on how I can achieve an introductory understanding of physics (in order to breeze through when I start studying without complications)

    Do I study calculus first then physics? How will I know how much calculus is enough to move onto physics?

    How long should I study for?

    Thanks everyone
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2017 #2
    I was in pretty much the same situation as you were 12 months ago. My biggest reccomendation is study a lot of calculus, maybe a bit of linear algebra, and if possible it will be a huge advantage to use any elective units you may have to study an intro level maths unit. The guidance youll get from a university maths unit will be invaluable

    As far as physics goes. If your pretty on the ball you should be able to learn all you need in line with it being taught. You may just have some late nights here and there.
  4. Nov 9, 2017 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    This is less ridiculous as it is challenging. Calculus is certainly the basic tool for physics and you should have a good foundation in it. However, this depends on what can be considered as knowledge. Subjects learnt at school are often a bit differently presented at college or universities, so it doesn't need to be a disadvantage, but basic capabilities in calculations are normally assumed to exist. I usually recommend this website with open books, which in my opinion bridges the gap between school and university well:
    https://openstax.org/details/books/college-physics for physics and https://openstax.org/subjects/math for the mathematical part. Those books are quite thick, i.e. have really many pages. E.g. the physics book has more than 30 chapters, and the mathematics books have many parts, some of which are extensive as well.

    My suggestion is to look at or download them and see where you stand. This would allow you and us a better assessment of what has to be done. Basically you can learn everything from scratch at university, but if it is too far behind, you will run out of time. You don't need to fall in despair considering the volume of these books, because you probably don't need to know all of it. Take it as an overview and maybe as a source to refer to, if you don't understand a concept on your way, rather than studying all of them.
  5. Nov 10, 2017 #4
    While you typically don't need it for introductory 100 level physics courses, having a solid understanding of calculus will certainly help. Besides which you will need it eventually. Work on your understanding of derivatives and integrals. Those will be your bread and butter throughout most of your physics education. Of course I imagine you'll be taking a calculus series in your first year during which you'll learn all the nooks and crannies of the subject.
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