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Other USAPhO test -- When should I be able to answer these questions?

  1. May 26, 2017 #1

    I wasn't too sure what forum to put this question in, so I apologize if it is in the wrong one.

    I have been looking at the past exams for the USA physics olympiad ( https://www.aapt.org/physicsteam/2016/exams.cfm ). I have been pretty good with the fnet=ma exams, but when it comes to the semi-final exam/USAPhO exam, I can barely answer a single question. I can figure some stuff out here and there, but for the most part I'm stuck the entire time. I am taking AP Physics C next year (although I do know some calculus-based physics), which will help with some of that, but from what I know about the curriculum in C, it doesn't begin to cover some of the quantum and relativity in there. So, my questions are:

    1. At what stage in physics education is most of the material on those exams learned?

    2. As someone who wants to be a theoretical physicist, by the time I graduate from high school, should I be able to answer those questions easily? And, on a related note, would any theoretical physicist be able to look at those problems and immediately know how to solve them?

    3. How should I go about learning the materials on those exams?

    I'd love to try and get on the US team (which I will try to do anyways, because it doesn't hurt to try), so any other tips would be appreciated.

    Thank you very much in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2017 #2
    Thanks for the thread! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post? The more details the better.
  4. Jun 1, 2017 #3


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    In Australia at least, the exam is designed to be extremely difficult, and it's not expected that anyone does extremely well - the people who get on the team are just the ones who do the least poorly. The point is to test your problem solving skills, not necessarily your knowledge of physics. So:

    1. University.
    2. (a) No. (b) No. But they could probably figure it out.
    3. I'd be getting a good foundation in high school physics, then moving onto undergrad textbooks later. Do many and diverse practise problems.
  5. Jun 1, 2017 #4
    Thank you very much. Do you know of any good textbooks for something like this?
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