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Is General Physics II harder than General Physics I?

  1. Jun 6, 2014 #1


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    I am transferring from community college to university in the fall with only General Physics I completed, so I need to take General Physics II at university.

    I felt like I did okay in Physics I (I got a B), but I definitely would like to review some of the topics in that class, so what topics from that class would you say are most important for an EE major?

    Also, what class would you say was harder, Physics I or Physics II and why? Also, what skills for physics II will I need to do well in the class, considering I will be taking it my first semester at university. Should I retake Physics I or can I jump straight into physics II from Physics I at community college? What would you say?

    *By the way, I'm talking about Calculus based physics, not Algebra based*

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2014 #2


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    Since physics courses vary from college to college, I suggest you speak to a member of the physics department at the university that you are planning to attend.
  4. Jun 6, 2014 #3


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    The most common sequence is Physics I = mechanics: kinematics, forces, free body diagrams, pendulums, rotating bodies, moments of inertia, torque, etc.

    Physics II = waves, heat, electricity ... perhaps some optics, or else acoustics for the waves; an introduction to electromagnetism and Maxwell's equations, simple circuits; relationships between heat, temperature, and entropy; heat engines. There is a lot of possible variations in Physics II, often dictated by the available lab equipment.

    You can tell by looking at the course catalogs, or as mathman suggests: ask at the physics department; they will provide a copy of the latest syllabus.
  5. Jun 6, 2014 #4
    I don't think one is harder than the other. They cover different materials at similar level of difficulty. Of course the actual level of difficulty depends on the institution, professor, text book, etc...
  6. Jun 6, 2014 #5


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    Huge increase in difficulty from Phys1 to Phys2. More complicated Trigonometry in Electricity & Magnetism than what was needed for Phys1 Mechanics. You use tougher calculus skills than for Phys1.

    My impression from going though both courses was that, although Physics 1 for fundamental mechanics was very difficult, I was able to learn and to understand. The lab exercises also I could understand and did them fairly well. Physics 2, E&M was different. All the same knowledge was needed from Phys1, but now, vectors were happening which could not easily be seen. More new concepts that I could not understand; field diagrams and opposite charges and potential and "ground"; much more complicated calculus to analyze and solve problems; and ... laboraotry....? ...intellectually lost.

    Physics 2 E&M requires a student to be much stronger in Trigonometry than did Physics 1. Physics 2 also seemed to require more mathematical maturity.
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