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Physics Preparation

  1. Dec 17, 2014 #1
    In this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...igh-school-pre-university-book-thread.307797/ the author presented a great set of resources for a good high school and pre-university preparation.
    What I like about this list is that it gives a solid foundation and has a very good flow. Unfortunately I have not been able to find such a list for high-school and pre-university physics in this forum. Would it be possible for someone to create a comprehensive list like that for physics? Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Dec 19, 2014 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    You're not going to find long lists of books for high school physics like for high school math because in physics you don't have that long sequence of different courses that you have in math (at least not in high school :oldwink:). Most students take just one year of physics in high school, at varying levels of mathematical sophistication.

    Basically, you've got three kinds of introductory physics courses that you might encounter in high school:

    1. Calculus-based courses, like AP Physics C. These use the same books that college/university calculus-based intro physics courses for physics majors and engineers use, e.g. Halliday/Resnick/Walker "Fundamentals of Physics", Young/Freedman "University Physics" and several others.

    2. Non-calculus-based courses that require only algebra and trigonometry, like AP Physics 1 & 2. Such courses are also taught at the college/university level for non-science majors. Books include Serway/Vuille "College Physics", Giancoli "Physics: Principles with Applications" and others.

    3. "Conceptual physics" or "descriptive physics" courses with very little math. Books include Hewitt's "Conceptual Physics."
  5. Dec 19, 2014 #4


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    As the others have stated, there really isn't a comprehensive list of pre-university physics courses. If one were to try to assemble one, it would realistically contain very few physics courses. The most important thing to do is get as much math and science (in general) as possible completed prior to college. The math really is key. Being ready to start calculus in college, or taking some calculus in high school is the best preparation. Taking a high school physics class or two is certainly going to be beneficial, but is far from necessary. Many physics majors don't take any physics until college. Taking some high school chemistry will be beneficial as well, since most physics majors have to take at least a general chemistry sequence in college.

    As mentioned, there isn't going to be a sequence like you have with math, i.e. pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, pre-calc etc.
  6. Dec 19, 2014 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Exactly. The intro physics course that freshman physics majors take in college does not assume any previous knowledge of physics, except maybe at elite schools like MIT.
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