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Senior year HS schedule

  1. Mar 26, 2009 #1
    hello all
    i want to be a physicist when i grow older, and i want to get started in high school taking the classes i need to be taking. Also, does it look like a managable course load? Here's what i've got so far:

    English 4
    Government/Economics AP
    Spanish 3
    Calculus AB AP
    Computer Science A AP
    Physics B AP (Block Period)
    Physics B AP (Block Period)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2009 #2
    That looks very doable. In fact, if you find some extra time on your hands, maybe you could grab a calc book by apostol or courant for self-study.
  4. Mar 26, 2009 #3
    Yes definitely supplement your Calculus class with a better textbook, or retake it in college as an honors class. A standard high school AP class can't help you really understand calculus all that well.
  5. Mar 26, 2009 #4
    Hmm, in that case should i just take statistics instead and take calculus in college?
  6. Mar 26, 2009 #5
    If you want to be a physicist I would recommend taking Calculus BC and Physics C instead of the ones you have (AB and B). You could also take both Statistics and Calculus BC. The more advanced classes you take, the more prepared you'll be.
  7. Mar 27, 2009 #6
    I don't think many schools would allow students to skip Calc AB and go straight to BC. But I agree that Physics C would be a better choice than Physics B. Physics B covers mechanics and EM at a very basic level.
  8. Mar 27, 2009 #7


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    Espanol 3 es la clase mas importante de la lista =P, todos los fisicos debieran hablar espanol... heheh
  9. Mar 27, 2009 #8
    I disagree. With a good background in precalculus (hopefully one that introduced limits and derivatives), there is no reason you shouldn't be able to get into Calc BC (unless of course, there is no precalc). Calculus AB spends way too much time on the basic notions of the limit (I doubt there are any epsilon-delta arguments) and derivatives. If you are strong at algebra, these concepts should not be hard to pick up.

    On the other hand, you do really need to know how to do calculus before taking Physics C. Physics C delves into deeper topics, but without calculus, it will be harder to get very far. You can learn a lot from physics B, despite the lack of calculus (I think it even helps to see the difference). I took physics B and calculus BC as a senior and self-studied physics C on my own. Most of the knowledge that helped me do well on the Physics C exams was the fundamental material I learned in physics B.
  10. Mar 27, 2009 #9
    At our school it is typical to take Precalculus (introduced to the basic limit and derivative at the very end of the year) our junior year, and then go to AB or BC depending on your grade in the class.

    Or you could be like me and slack off wayyy to much then go around the system to get in and make A's all year because you find out you simply LOVE calculus. (and I've been self-learning too, not just the stuff we skim over in BC)

    My algebra skills are mediocre, my trig was non-existent. I failed the precalculus test that began the Calc BC course. And then everything became easy. The class is NOT difficult (and ours is a VERY thorough course), just have to pay attention and hope you have an amazing teacher like we do!
  11. Mar 27, 2009 #10


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    sucks at my high school you HAVE to take AB Calc before you can take BC.
  12. Mar 27, 2009 #11
    Our Physics C: Mechanics class uses calculus rather conservatively. The calc we used primarily involved separable differential equations and one-variable integration, topics you can quickly learn. Perhaps the only topic in Physics C which requires a more solid grasp of calculus is harmonic motion, which utilizes a lot of differential equations. Granted, most things in mechanics can be modeled after differential equations, but the vast majority of problems you'll probably encounter can be solved without a solid grasp of more complicated DE's. On the other hand, Physics C: EM does require a working knowledge of calculus.

    That's just my experience. You should probably ask the Physics C and Calc BC teacher about the class and your preparation.
  13. Mar 27, 2009 #12
    Hmmm, I might have misspoken. If the OP's intention is to learn the topics covered in physics C well, he would probably want a fairly solid foundation in calculus. The Physics C exams themselves will be straightforward for those who have a basic grasp of the fundamentals, but nevertheless, you still need to have some understanding of basic calculus (i.e. topics in the Calc AB curriculum).

    I think the above schedule is actually fine. But if the OP has some familiarity with calculus, it would not hurt for him to find out if Calc BC may be appropriate for him. Cordyceps, I think you are right about the amount of differential equations knowledge you need to know. Many people thought there was a pretty hard DE question on the mechanics exam last year but it was really just a u-substitution plus some fairly tedious algebra.
  14. Mar 28, 2009 #13
    How much time per day is that Block Period for Physics B? Regarding the math, I would definitely talk to the Calculus BC teacher and see if you can handle it.

    Calc BC is challenging, but manageable....I wouldn't say that it was not difficult.
  15. Mar 28, 2009 #14
    That's a good way to put it. I didn't mean it was a cake walk, simply that it was about as easy as any other more advanced level math class. And personally we do a lesson a day (besides 4 or 5 of the more complex topics) and I find it demands the attention which is needed to succeed. So really just hold on for the ride and it shouldn't be too bad at all.
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