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Need advice -- how much calc to know for calc-base physics?

  1. Mar 14, 2017 #1

    I need advice from someone knowledgeable in calc and calc-based physics.

    I moved to Canada a couple years ago and am trying to finish pre-med prerequisites and take the MCAT (I have a prior degree in another major that was not intro science/math-heavy).

    6 years ago I took the 1st quarter course of a 3 quarter calc series in my previous university in the USA. (1 quarter = 10 weeks of class) The calc I learned mainly involved simple derivatives. I do not remember learning about integrals at all.

    That one calc class was basically all I took in University for math and I got 3.5/4 for that... Now I am having to take calc-based physics. Canada only has calc-based physics in their university curriculum for pre-med majors.

    The issue is I don't remember anything from my calc class. Algebra is still fresh but trig.. not as much. Would it be feasible to reteach myself calc during the Summer before taking calc-based physics in the Fall? How much calc should I reteach?

    Or should I just retake calc I over the summer before I start calc-based physics??

    I also took physics in grade 12 and got an A but it was my least favorite class out of chem/bio/physics in high school as the concepts were difficult to learn for me. (not to mention it's been almost 10 yrs since I took it..)

    Any advice would be appreciated!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2017 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If you don't remember anything, retaking it is a good idea.
  4. Mar 14, 2017 #3


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    At the intro level for Physics , just basic integration and differentiation is all you need. More importantly is a knowledge of basic algebra and trig. Many of the problems in calc based physics will just require algebra and some trig. In many respects, calc based physics is easier than algebra based physics, because it helps you understand the derivations of the equations.
  5. Mar 14, 2017 #4
    It can vary with the physics course.

    Prolly ok if you take the online Coursera Calculus One and Calculus Two courses over the summer.
  6. Mar 15, 2017 #5


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    Just from my time when a student: Only a little bit of differentiation and integration was needed in Physics 1 Mechanics, but mostly algebra and basic Trigonometry. Nearly ALL of Calc 1 & 2 and some Vector skills/knowledge and not-so-basic Trigonometry for Physics 2 E & M. This Physics 2 was the tough course. Significant amount of Intermediate level Algebra, and somewhat more than just basic Trigonometry for Physics 3 "Modern Physics", and I cannot remember much of Calculus being used in this one.
  7. Mar 17, 2017 #6
    Depends on how far you're planning on going. If you only need first year physics, differentiation and integration are all you need. But of course, those are going to require a firm grasp of basic algebra, geometry, and trig. And if you plan on going into 2nd and 3rd year physics, you'll be needing everything up to Diff Eq, Multivariable, and Linear Algebra.
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