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

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In summary, if you have finished the math sequence up to Ordinary Differential Equations, you should be fine to take the calculus-based physics intro course. However, you may want to talk to someone in the physics department to make sure you are not missing out on anything.
  • #1
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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
 
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  • #2
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
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
protractor said:
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 said:
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.
 

What is the main difference between calculus-based and algebra/trig-based physics?

The main difference between calculus-based and algebra/trig-based physics is the level of mathematical rigor and complexity. In calculus-based physics, students use advanced mathematical concepts such as derivatives and integrals to solve problems, while in algebra/trig-based physics, students use basic algebra and trigonometry.

Which physics course is more challenging?

The difficulty of a physics course depends on the individual student's strengths and weaknesses. Generally, calculus-based physics is considered more challenging due to the higher level of mathematical complexity involved. However, some students may find algebra/trig-based physics more challenging if they struggle with mathematical concepts.

Which physics course is more beneficial for future studies or career?

This depends on the field of study or career path a student is interested in. For students planning to pursue a career in engineering, physics, or any science-related field, calculus-based physics is more beneficial as it provides a solid foundation for advanced courses in these areas. On the other hand, algebra/trig-based physics may be more useful for students pursuing a career in fields that do not require a strong mathematical background.

Do I need to have a strong math background to take calculus-based physics?

While having a strong math background can certainly be helpful, it is not a requirement for taking calculus-based physics. As long as a student has a basic understanding of algebra, they can succeed in calculus-based physics with dedication and hard work. However, it is important to note that the mathematical concepts in this course may be more challenging for students who struggle with math.

Is it possible to switch from algebra/trig-based physics to calculus-based physics (or vice versa)?

Yes, it is possible to switch between these two types of physics courses. However, it is important to consult with an academic advisor or instructor to determine if it is a feasible option and if any prerequisites need to be met. It is also important to keep in mind that the pace and content of the courses may differ, so it may require some extra effort to catch up or adjust to the new course.

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