Should I take physics or chemistry first?

In summary, the conversation is about whether to take a high school-level chemistry class or a calculus-based physics class first. The opinion is that it doesn't really matter which one is taken first, but it is recommended to skip the algebra-based physics class. Physics is seen as more helpful for understanding chemistry, but the effectiveness of each course depends on the quality of the instructor and the emphasis on quantitative calculations and reasoning.
  • #1
protractor
17
1
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
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
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:
 
  • #4
protractor said:
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
Drakkith said:
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
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
symbolipoint said:
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.
 

Related to Should I take physics or chemistry first?

1. Should I take physics or chemistry first?

This is a common question among students who are interested in pursuing a career in science. The answer depends on your personal interests and career goals.

2. Which subject is harder - physics or chemistry?

This is subjective and can vary from person to person. Both subjects involve complex concepts and require a strong foundation in mathematics. It's important to choose the subject that interests you the most and put in the effort to understand the material.

3. Can I take physics and chemistry together?

Yes, it is possible to take both physics and chemistry at the same time. However, this may be more challenging as both subjects require a significant amount of time and effort. It's important to consult with your academic advisor to ensure you can manage the workload.

4. Which subject is more useful for my future career?

It depends on your career goals and the specific field you want to work in. Physics is more focused on understanding the laws and principles of the physical world, while chemistry deals with the composition and behavior of matter. Both subjects have practical applications in various industries, so it's best to research and choose the subject that aligns with your interests and career aspirations.

5. Can I take physics and chemistry in any order?

In most cases, there is no set order for taking physics and chemistry. However, some universities may require you to take one before the other as a prerequisite for certain courses. It's important to check with your academic advisor or the course requirements to make sure you are on the right track.

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