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Taking calculus-based physics vs algebra/trig-based physics

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Should I take the algebra/trig based physics first before taking the calculus-based physics?
I never took physics before. However, I finished the community college's math sequence (up to Ordinary Differential Equations).
On the class description it states that it is recommended to take the trig based physics but it is not required.

I was thinking of taking the calculus-based physics with all the math fresh in my mind. However, I am concerned I might miss something if I don't take the algebra/trig physics.

thanks
 

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  • #2
PhanthomJay
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You won’t miss a thing. You have the calculus you need for calc based physics, so go for it. Actually, when deriving equations, calc based physics is easier. Now problems may be a bit more difficult, but in an intro physics calc based course, most problems just require algebra and those that require calculus are generally limited to simple derivatives and integrals. Definitely take the calc based course
and don’t worry about ever having to take an algebra based course.
 
  • #3
jtbell
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Best thing is to talk to someone in the physics department there, who is familiar with their courses. Usually for calculus based intro physics, you don't actually need a lot of calculus, just the basic concepts of integrals and derivatives and the ability to calculate them for polynomials and maybe sine/cosine/exponential functions. The physics concepts are pretty much the same as in an algebra/trig based intro physics course. However, to rest your mind, it's best to ask someone who actually knows the courses.
 
  • #4
ZapperZ
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Should I take the algebra/trig based physics first before taking the calculus-based physics?
I never took physics before. However, I finished the community college's math sequence (up to Ordinary Differential Equations).
On the class description it states that it is recommended to take the trig based physics but it is not required.

I was thinking of taking the calculus-based physics with all the math fresh in my mind. However, I am concerned I might miss something if I don't take the algebra/trig physics.

thanks
What is your major, or what will be your major?

As jtbell has stated, this is really a question you should be asking your academic advisor. Please note that in many schools, if you are majoring in engineering, chemistry, physics, or any physical sciences, a non-calculus-based general physics course may not count towards your degree. There's nothing stopping you from taking it if you don't care about it not counting (and having someone paying for it). But you should at least be aware of this.

This is why you need to talk to someone at your school, preferably your advisor.

Zz.
 
  • #5
jtbell
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The physics concepts are pretty much the same as in an algebra/trig based intro physics course.
[now that I've slept and had my morning coffee]

However, instructors in the calculus-based intro course might tend to assume that students have already studied physics in high school, and present the material accordingly, even though high-school physics may not be listed as an official prerequisite. If you talk to someone who is familiar with the physics program at your college (ideally, the person who actually teaches the course), you can probably find out whether this is in fact the case.

I think it's unlikely to be a problem, but it's good to make sure by talking to people there.
 

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