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US Physics Olympiad qualifying exam (Mechanics)?

  1. Dec 12, 2008 #1
    So I read Irodov was the best prep for the Physics Olympiad, but what if I'm in Physics B and just completed a semester's worth of mechanics? I'm currently in Pre-Calculus if that matters.

    Another thread I read says most problems can be solved using differential eqs. but neither my current Physics or Pre-Cal class have touched that yet. Will I have to learn Calculus all on my own in the span of 2 weeks if I have any hope of doing well on the Olympiad?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2008 #2
    Competition Math/Science is wack.

    Just work through the problems on your own for fun. I mean if you do well, you do, but if not, it means little more than that you can't figure out tricks quickly under time pressure.
  4. Dec 16, 2008 #3
    It can be fun though!!

    I qualified without studying and only in Physics B with no calculus, so don't worry about the "lack of preparation". In my opinion, it's just luck whether you qualify or not.

    p.s. Quantumpencil I think I know you :-)
  5. Jan 30, 2009 #4
  6. Apr 13, 2009 #5


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    I know this is kind of an old post but, how was the test?
  7. Apr 16, 2009 #6
    Haha, yeah...

    I didn't study at all, but that wasn't the problem 9/10 times.

    I must just suck too much at physics, not to mention my teacher...

    A few problems I thought were quite easy, but the others were mind boggling. I'm sure the calculus part wasn't even one of the main difficulties in the test for me. Guess I need more practice for next year...
  8. Apr 16, 2009 #7


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    how exactly was the test? hard? super hard?

    what kind of math was involved? is it harder than an AP Physics C test?
  9. Apr 17, 2009 #8
    It was pretty damn hard as only one person outta all the Physcs B and C classes qualified... My school isn't the best at Physics, but they don't all failt Physics C AP either. It's considerably harder than Physics C AP, that's for sure.

    Impossible? Not at all. I think some intensive studying would help quite a lot. Find hard problems and do them.
  10. Apr 18, 2009 #9
    If I remember right, I took this test my junior year in high school 3 years ago.

    If it was the same test you are talking about (it was ~3-5 hours)...it was HARD. no one from my school qualified my year. One person made it past qualifying round the year before me, and she was a complete genius.

    It was much harder than the AP C test. Not impossible though, none of us who took it put any effort into studying for it; I think it is possible looking back on it now.
  11. Apr 18, 2009 #10


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    How was it hard? Was is the math involved?

    Hey, since the test name is "F=ma (Mechanics)", does the test include only mechanics?
  12. Apr 18, 2009 #11
    Yes, it was only mechanics. It had problems involving moment of inertia problems, center of mass, angular momentum, prety much the areas that usually give students the most trouble. I remember there was a question on load transfer of a bicycle, which at the time I was clueless as to how to solve.

    Nothing was straight forward, everything combined different concepts and they were all word problems, everything required "interpretation" in the free response section.
  13. Apr 18, 2009 #12


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    How about the math involved? Only calculus? Or does it go further to differential equations?
  14. Apr 18, 2009 #13
    I am not sure if it covered differential equations, at the time I didnt know what they were :p

    Calculus was a definate yes though.
  15. Apr 18, 2009 #14


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    well the guy below me said he qualified WITHOUT Calculus

  16. Apr 18, 2009 #15
    i guess i stand corrected then
  17. Nov 11, 2010 #16
    i want problems in physics. can you help me.
  18. Nov 11, 2010 #17
    Wow, a thread I started from nearly 2 years ago is still alive (err, rather, has been revived).

    The qualifying exam isn't impossibly hard, but since I didn't know any calculus I was at a huge disadvantage. A small portion of it was pure trigonometric and algebraic physics. Best advice? Practice the toughest problems in your textbook until you do them correctly in a reasonable amount of time.

    I'm sure the actual competition is much more difficult.
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