Should I take physics or chemistry first?

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  • #1
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I never took either in high school. I have almost no science background. However I finished calc 3 and linear algebra and currently taking differential equations in a local community college.

The chemistry class is high school-level. The physics class requires calculus 2. The school offers algebra-based physics but is letting me go straight to the calculus-based physics.

Which one should I take first?


Also, If I end up taking physics (the calculus-based one), should I read high-school physics over the summer or read the calc-based physics? thanks.
 

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  • #2
Drakkith
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It doesn't really matter in my opinion. Neither class will significantly help you understand the other, so I'd just take whichever one is most convenient for you to take first.
 
  • #3
berkeman
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I agree with @Drakkith and I think you should not bother with any algebra-based physics reading. Go straight to the calculus based physics reading and class. :smile:
 
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symbolipoint
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I never took either in high school. I have almost no science background. However I finished calc 3 and linear algebra and currently taking differential equations in a local community college.

The chemistry class is high school-level. The physics class requires calculus 2. The school offers algebra-based physics but is letting me go straight to the calculus-based physics.

Which one should I take first?


Also, If I end up taking physics (the calculus-based one), should I read high-school physics over the summer or read the calc-based physics? thanks.
If the Chemistry course is only high school level, then which you take first does not matter. Eventually you want and need some Physics for help in dealing with Chemistry but not right away. Regarding any Physics, if at all possible, skip any algebra-based courses; and do the necessary Calculus-based Physics courses-set.
 
  • #5
symbolipoint
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It doesn't really matter in my opinion. Neither class will significantly help you understand the other, so I'd just take whichever one is most convenient for you to take first.
Physics helps with Chemistry much more than any Chemistry helps with Physics.
 
  • #6
Dr. Courtney
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Depending on how they are taught and what is emphasized, it could go either way. If these are lab based courses, there are lots of things centeral to the scientific method and sound laboratory practice that will be common to both, but probably easier for beginners to pick up in high school chemistry: accuracy, precision, significant digits, unit conversions, unit analysis, measurement care, uncertainties, standard deviation, and so on.

I've been helping out as a volunteer at a local high school where some students get chemistry first, and other students get physics first. Which is better? As far as I can tell, the one with the better (more rigorous) lab experience with lots of quantitative calculations and reasoning. But this tends to come down more to the individual lab instructors more than the subject.
 
  • #7
Drakkith
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Physics helps with Chemistry much more than any Chemistry helps with Physics.

I agree, but there's little in undergrad physics that will help you in undergrad chemistry in my opinion.
 

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