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Homework Help: Newtonian (Classical) Physics Course!: Best way to Prepare for it?

  1. Dec 22, 2009 #1
    Hello all,

    First and foremost, I want to apologize if I am posting in the wrong area. Please inform me if so.

    I am new to the forums (hence my first post), and will be doing my first Physics course this winter (starts after New Years) since 2002. I really need to do well, and I have the time and will power to do it.

    A series of questions...

    1. From your experience, what will be the general flow of the class? I realize that for each class and teacher, the course direction will usually vary, but is there a general flow that can be anticipated for me to encounter? (i.e., could I get a "head start" and start focusing on the beginning stuff?)

    2. I just finished taking a General Chemistry course, which is one of the hardest classes taken at the University I am attending, and was able to do very well. To what extent does Chemistry and the study habits needed for its success differ from Physics and the study habits needed for it? (i.e., is there a sea of formulas that Physics students need to memorize, or are formulas usually given in the problems and the work of the student is to find out where the information fits into the equation?)

    Thank you,

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2009 #2


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    Homework Helper

    With respect to your question #2 at least, the skills required for chemistry and physics would be a lot more similar to each other than either one would be to something like English or history. Basically it's about learning concepts and applying them. There are some equations that you'll have to memorize, of course, but not that many; the main skill is to be able to apply the concepts and equations to the problems. (And actually, in some introductory physics courses which are designed to be easier on the students, you may get a reference sheet with the equations)
  4. Dec 22, 2009 #3
    Do yourself a favour and instead of memorizing formulas or simply looking for the right formula to solve the problem think about what's actually going on and think about which relationship corresponds to what you're looking to solve and apply it.

    Remember, physics isn't about memorizing a set of formulas and simplying plugging numbers in.
  5. Dec 22, 2009 #4
    If you have not used your basic algebra in a while, and this physics course is not entitled "Physics for Poets", please brush up. Your teacher might ask for an answer in the form of variables and my experience with chemistry is they like numbers. As they should.

    Agreed with the posters on the learning the ideas first. The math will fit very nicely then. In Physics you can ask quite a few different questions over one particular situation, and if you dont understand the ideas, the plug and chug will be difficult as you will not know how to even begin a problem. The plug and chug really comes after the real physics has been done and the problem is basically finished.

    Is the class calculus based?
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  6. Dec 22, 2009 #5
    Yeah, the class is calculus-based. This leads me to another question, as to how much calculus I will need to remember? (I took AP Calc. my senior year in H.S., 2005. I remember basic derivatives, etc. but will I need to know more?)

    Thanks SO much guys. Keep it coming :)
  7. Dec 22, 2009 #6
    In the physics courses I was in, the emphasis wasn't on moreso the calculus part but rather the physics part. You do need an "basic" understanding of calculus for physics, but at the end of the day it is a physics course not a calculus course.

    For the most part you should only be dealing with standard ideal cases of derivatives and integrals.
  8. Dec 22, 2009 #7
    Sounds good buddy! Thanks again.
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