Recommendation to my study program for Physics/Math

  • #1

I'm still a student at school, and I'm currently doing the IB programme.

The IB programme is not very challenging...and I've gone out of my way to study the A-levels as well. For those familiar with the A-levels, I've completed the Maths and Further Maths Modules, up to FP3, M3, S2 and obviously all the Core Modules. For those who are not clear with the British Syllabus, that means I've done up to first and second order differential equations (maclaurin/taylor series), polar coordinates 3-by-3 matrices, conics, vectors dot/cross product, hyperbolic functions and a little bit of group theory (I'm following the OCR syllabus).

For physics, for the IB programme, we have covered most of what high school students would before entering university. The questions are tricky at times, but I find the depth of knowledge is fairly limited and I dislike this very much so, additionally, I don't find the programme challenging. I like to visualize my problems and understand things in detail, that means, concepts are very important (IB focuses on this) but tackling questions, I find, is even more crucial in most cases.

I plan to do a lot of self-studying because I feel I will be lacking knowledge before going to university and I really don't want to suffer the consequences, since I met my seniors from my high school and realized that a lot of them are having a difficult time in school especially those studying pure math and sciences.

I'm wondering if anybody can help with my study programme, give me some recommendations on how to make it a more productive one. If it helps, I enjoy mathematics very much, in fact it's better than my physics, due to my lack of general problem solving skills, so I really want to get better at this. My passion is for Physics so I'm willing to work quite hard to get better. I plan to apply for physics at university, due to the lack of money, I'm thinking of going to Leipzig or Lund University since the programme is free, however I heard the courses at Leipzig is quite tough. I'm hoping to do well in my BSc, so I can get a scholarship for MSc in the future)

My school predicted me 40 points for IB (with 7 in math and physics), but I don't really want to apply to a top university unless it's a scholarship due to the high tuition fees, which I know I'm not going to get one since my grades aren't high enough, and my other subjects suffer cause I don't care about them (like Languages). I've watched some lectures from Walter Leeuwin and people persistently recommend Feynman Lectures, as inspiring as they are, I need concrete material that will help establish a real foundation. I prefer to read and watch more conceptual books once I think my foundation is much more solid. If it helps, I prefer taking things slowly because I take a while to understand things, however when I do, I find that I learn extremely quickly for anything that builds on that knowledge.

For Physics:

- Serway Physics for Physicist and Engineers, 9th Edition
- Halliday and Resnick, 3rd Edition Volumes 1 and 2
- To complement the books above, I want to use Alonso and Finn books (which is much more theoretical)
- Recommendation for experimental physics books? - this would be very helpful, since I think i can definitely get better at labs
- Problems of Irodov? 200 Puzzling Questions in Physics? - Are these good practices on the side? Should I even bother with them?

After this:

- Mechanics (Kleppner)
- EM (Purcell)
- Waves and Motion (Pain), Optics (Hecht) - This one looks quite hard due to the exclusive use of Multivariable calculus, which I have read about but haven't really learnt.
- QM (unsure)


- Mathematical Methods by Boaz (this will be done in conjuction with Serway, Alonso Finn or Halliday/Resnick)
(Are there any other books which I should proceed with after Boaz? And is my current mathematical knowledge sufficient to start with Boaz?)
- Spivak Calculus
- Linear Algebra Strang
- My last request is if there is any good books on Pure Mathematics (abstract algebra), I'm not great with Pure mathematics, so I'm happy to start on something simpler and take progressive steps forwards.

Progamming Languages: I do some robotics and electronics engineering at home (i also play around with arduinos) when I've any kind of free time, which I know will be very important in university, since I believe in being practical more so than theoretical at times...I've a bit of knowledge of:

- C++
- Matlab
- Python (completed course on codeacademy)

Which programming languages do you think I should start with?

Chemistry: Some foundation in chemistry is necessary, but this will be more for side reading.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Thanks for the thread! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post? The more details the better.
  • #3
Dr. Courtney
Education Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
I've seen more STEM majors flunk out or shift to humanities from underpreparation in algebra and trig than anything else.

Until your ALEKS precalc pie is 100%, anything else is a fantasy and a waste of time.

After that, the path to moving forward depends on your strengths and weaknesses and on your personal goals. Seeing someone's detailed ACT subscores in Math and Science makes it a lot easier to advise them.

If you are sure you are great at all the high school math and science (including chemistry and physics), then I do recommend the Feynman Lectures. He has an approach to science itself and to physics that are complementary to what most undergrads see in their first two years, and it is very valuable.

However, I find it best for most students in late high school and early college to assume that every grade they ever received from a teacher was a gift and not an indicator of their true mastery or abilities. I believe ALEKS, and I believe ACT scores and scores on AP tests.

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