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Physics I and Calculus I Together

  1. Jul 25, 2013 #1
    I'll be taking these two classes together this fall (along with an intermediate college writing class and a one-hour-per-week mathematics computing lab).

    Am I biting off more than I can chew? I am getting an A- in precalculus, which I admit I only study the bare minimum and am about one or two correct answers from an A.

    Here are the descriptions of the two classes:

    Physics for Scientists and Engineers I: First semester of a two-semester sequence in calculus-based physics, primarily for students in science, math, computer science, and pre engineering. This semester covers topics in mechanics, including kinematics, Newton’s laws, and the conservation laws of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum. Also covered are topics in gravity, fluid mechanics, waves, and thermodynamics. Class meets five hours per week in lecture/discussion format. One 3-hour lab per week.

    Calculus I: Limits, continuity, differentiation, integration.

    P.S. I am a 30 year-old freshman trying to find time to start a business or get a job at the same time. Maybe that's more than I can chew. Thanks for your input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2013 #2


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    You need some basic Calculus skills, although not too many, for Physics 1. What you plan is a risk, but you may do just fine. You need some skills in Calculus, but you need MORE skill with intermediate level Algebra and basic Trigonometry. You MUST know how to differentiate and to integrate simple functions.

    Better would be study Calculus 1 BEFORE starting Physics 1.
  4. Jul 26, 2013 #3


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    Don't you have an academic advisor that can advice you on this? He or she would know more about the requirements and coverage of each course, AND if any other students have done what you are attempting to do, and the outcome.

  5. Jul 26, 2013 #4
    Just from my own personal experience...

    I took Calculus I my first semester of college after having zero exposure to calculus during high school. It was a challenge for me and required quite a lot of self-study and effort in order to become comfortable with the material.

    I did not take Physics I until my second semester. At that point I was comfortable with the fundamentals of calculus and the mathematical aspects of the physics course were not an issue. Had I taken them concurrently I likely would not have been successful in completing the Physics I course because of my limited calculus abilities.

    So I would say this depends on:

    (1) How comfortable you are with basic calculus now.
    (2) How soon in the Physics I course you are expected to make use of calculus concepts versus when those concepts are introduced in the Calculus I course.
    (3) How confident you are in your ability to self-teach the needed calculus for your Physics I course when required
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