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-Dragoon-

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In summary: I would take that instead. I think it would be a waste of money to take a more difficult one just because I'm not used to calculus.

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-Dragoon-

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Physics news on Phys.org

- #2

cjl

Science Advisor

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What exactly was covered in grade 11 physics, and what was supposed to be covered in grade 12?

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FourierFaux

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http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~probs/mech.html

This may provide some amusement. Read the text. Do the problems.

If you have access to an introductory physics text with answers in the back of the book, you can walk yourself through the derivations in the chapter, then work on the exercises at the end of the chapter. If you can do this diligently you'll probably be way ahead of the rest of the class.

Cheers.

This may provide some amusement. Read the text. Do the problems.

If you have access to an introductory physics text with answers in the back of the book, you can walk yourself through the derivations in the chapter, then work on the exercises at the end of the chapter. If you can do this diligently you'll probably be way ahead of the rest of the class.

Cheers.

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osnarf

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-Dragoon-

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cjl said:What exactly was covered in grade 11 physics, and what was supposed to be covered in grade 12?

In grade 11, we covered waves and sound, simple kinematics (1 dimension) including projectile motion, forces and introduction to vectors, energy conservation (work, heat transfer, etc.), and finally electricity and magnetism (currents, electromagnetic induction, transformers, etc.). In grade 12: forces and motion (2 dimension), energy and momentum (harmonic motion, gravitation and gravitational fields, momentum in 1 and 2 dimensions), electric, gravitational, and magnetic fields (electrostatics, electric field, potential, and currents, magnetism, and application of electromagnetism), the wave nature of light (properties of waves, the nature of light,the electromagnetic spectrum, applications of the properties of light), matter/energy interface (special relativity, early quantum mechanics, nuclear reactions and their applications, and elementary particles).

Based on the above, it would seem to me that there is so much more that I should know before going into physics I.

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-Dragoon-

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FourierFaux said:

This may provide some amusement. Read the text. Do the problems.

If you have access to an introductory physics text with answers in the back of the book, you can walk yourself through the derivations in the chapter, then work on the exercises at the end of the chapter. If you can do this diligently you'll probably be way ahead of the rest of the class.

Cheers.

Hey, thanks for such a resourceful link ForierFaux, I'll definitely work through it. As for textbooks, which would you recommend and where would I be able to find them?

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- #7

cjl

Science Advisor

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Honestly, I wouldn't be too concerned. Typically, college physics 1 basically starts over from the beginning (mechanics), and the primary difference is that it is calculus based. You can review some more from something like FourierFaux suggested, but I think you're worrying too much.

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-Dragoon-

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osnarf said:

I'm very comfortable with calculus (my highest mark this semester), but I don't know if the introductory physics I is calculus based or algebra based. I can either take the introductory one which is not intended for students going into physics, or a more specialized one called "foundations of physics I" which is intended for physics students. I am guessing the latter would be calculus based, but seeing as I didn't take grade 12 physics, wouldn't it be a stupid idea to take the more difficult one rather than the introductory one?

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thegreenlaser

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All that said, I would just try to be comfortable with kinematics: force, energy, acceleration and all the stuff I listed above. I would say that in preparation for what I assume is calculus based physics, being comfortable with the concepts would be more important than solving problems, although solving problems is useful for building that level of comfort. You should really be able to instantly know what all those kinematic concepts are, and very quickly know the relationships between them (e.g. knowing that Force=(mass)*(acceleration))

If you're already comfortable with that, then the next step is probably to make sure you're comfortable with calculus. Most of what killed people in my E&M course wasn't actually the concepts, but just that they weren't comfortable with the calculus required. Especially focus on applications of calculus to real-world problems, and try and understand how derivatives and integrals fit into a real-world scenario. A lot of introductory calculus books will say things like "This problem is modeled by this derivative, now solve for _____." Don't just blindly solve it from that point, because solving a derivative or integral is usually the simple part. The hard part is generally figuring out which derivative or integral you actually need to solve your problem, so try to understand where the formulas are coming from. Even if you did do very well in your calculus course, most intro calc courses only focus on solving integrals and derivatives. Don't get me wrong, being good at that will help, but figuring out exactly how to use this 'new math' to solve a problem can be a lot tougher than you might think.

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cjl

Science Advisor

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Retribution said:I'm very comfortable with calculus (my highest mark this semester), but I don't know if the introductory physics I is calculus based or algebra based. I can either take the introductory one which is not intended for students going into physics, or a more specialized one called "foundations of physics I" which is intended for physics students. I am guessing the latter would be calculus based, but seeing as I didn't take grade 12 physics, wouldn't it be a stupid idea to take the more difficult one rather than the introductory one?

Not necessarily. As I said - I think you're focusing too much on having missed grade 12 physics. Many high schools only require one year of physics to graduate, and those students do just fine in college. I would bet that both physics courses will be a review as far as concepts are concerned, but will go into substantially more depth, and look at more complex problems. If you're comfortable with calculus, I would say that the "foundations of physics I" should be completely fine (and it's what I would go for, personally).

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-Dragoon-

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thegreenlaser said:

All that said, I would just try to be comfortable with kinematics: force, energy, acceleration and all the stuff I listed above. I would say that in preparation for what I assume is calculus based physics, being comfortable with the concepts would be more important than solving problems, although solving problems is useful for building that level of comfort. You should really be able to instantly know what all those kinematic concepts are, and very quickly know the relationships between them (e.g. knowing that Force=(mass)*(acceleration))

If you're already comfortable with that, then the next step is probably to make sure you're comfortable with calculus. Most of what killed people in my E&M course wasn't actually the concepts, but just that they weren't comfortable with the calculus required. Especially focus on applications of calculus to real-world problems, and try and understand how derivatives and integrals fit into a real-world scenario. A lot of introductory calculus books will say things like "This problem is modeled by this derivative, now solve for _____." Don't just blindly solve it from that point, because solving a derivative or integral is usually the simple part. The hard part is generally figuring out which derivative or integral you actually need to solve your problem, so try to understand where the formulas are coming from. Even if you did do very well in your calculus course, most intro calc courses only focus on solving integrals and derivatives. Don't get me wrong, being good at that will help, but figuring out exactly how to use this 'new math' to solve a problem can be a lot tougher than you might think.

Now that you mention it, the only real-world applications we covered in Calculus were optimization problems, which only deals with finding the derivative and the local maximum and minimums. We did not cover integration at all nor do I know how to do simple integration of a function. Would you suggest I learn integration instead of physics over the summer?

- #12

Dembadon

Gold Member

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I know that you're looking for some advice about *pre*-physics studying, but I highly recommend bookmarking the link below and referring to it when you start your baccalaureate.

http://www.rwc.uc.edu/koehler/success.html

I use many of the methods he mentions.

http://www.rwc.uc.edu/koehler/success.html

I use many of the methods he mentions.

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-Dragoon-

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cjl said:Not necessarily. As I said - I think you're focusing too much on having missed grade 12 physics. Many high schools only require one year of physics to graduate, and those students do just fine in college. I would bet that both physics courses will be a review as far as concepts are concerned, but will go into substantially more depth, and look at more complex problems. If you're comfortable with calculus, I would say that the "foundations of physics I" should be completely fine (and it's what I would go for, personally).

So, the best thing I could do to prepare is learn more calculus and review my grade 11 physics notes? Also, seeing as the foundations of physics I class will probably be filled with students who have taken and done well in grade 12 physics, wouldn't that put me at a great disadvantage?

- #14

-Dragoon-

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Dembadon said:pre-physics studying, but I highly recommend bookmarking the link below and referring to it when you start your baccalaureate.

http://www.rwc.uc.edu/koehler/success.html

I use many of the methods he mentions.

Thank you very much for this, I will make great use of this in my first year.

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- #15

cjl

Science Advisor

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Retribution said:So, the best thing I could do to prepare is learn more calculus and review my grade 11 physics notes? Also, seeing as the foundations of physics I class will probably be filled with students who have taken and done well in grade 12 physics, wouldn't that put me at a great disadvantage?

Some of the students may have taken grade 12 physics, but certainly not all. As I said, many high schools (mine included) only required one year of physics, and an equivalent to your grade 12 physics wasn't even offered. Honestly, I think you should be fine (and yes, reviewing calc would be helpful).

- #16

-Dragoon-

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cjl said:Some of the students may have taken grade 12 physics, but certainly not all. As I said, many high schools (mine included) only required one year of physics, and an equivalent to your grade 12 physics wasn't even offered. Honestly, I think you should be fine (and yes, reviewing calc would be helpful).

Thank you for your valuable insight. :)

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Ryker

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Are you going into Physics or are you just taking this course for fun? Also, you're worried about being put a disadvantage. Well, yeah, you will have less knowledge of certain parts of physics due to not taking grade 12 physics, but from what I gather from posters that describe what the latter entails, this shouldn't be too much of a disadvantage, if at all. Plus, so what if your peers start off from a better position? If you are prepared to prepare for Physics I now, why are you afraid of the challenge there?Retribution said:So, the best thing I could do to prepare is learn more calculus and review my grade 11 physics notes? Also, seeing as the foundations of physics I class will probably be filled with students who have taken and done well in grade 12 physics, wouldn't that put me at a great disadvantage?

The bottom line is, no one knows how you'll fare in the "tougher" course, but it's a damn first year course and from what you're saying it doesn't even seem as if you'll need to get the prerequisites waived. So stop stressing, take the tougher course if you're interested in a more rigorous treatment of physics, don't if you're not.

- #18

thegreenlaser

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Retribution said:Now that you mention it, the only real-world applications we covered in Calculus were optimization problems, which only deals with finding the derivative and the local maximum and minimums. We did not cover integration at all nor do I know how to do simple integration of a function. Would you suggest I learn integration instead of physics over the summer?

It may be good. Usually you don't really get into integration until Calculus II (Finding an integral tends to be a lot less straight-forward than finding a derivative, once you move on past simple polynomials. I would bet they'll spend a good half of Calc II on integration.), so I doubt they'll use integration much in Physics I, unless you're taking it concurrently with Calc II (as was the case with my E&M course). Still, it might not hurt to at least get a feel for what integration does in a real-world system. Perhaps even just getting the text-book required for the course and reading through the first section or two, focusing on wrapping your head around the math would help. Again, the biggest thing people seem to struggle with in introductory physics classes is actually the math. It's not usually the calculation, so much as the "how the heck do I translate this ball rolling down a hill into a bunch of symbols and numbers that I can solve?"

Anyway, as Ryker said, you really don't need to worry about it. Physics profs understand that the math tends to be hard at first, and they understand that you've probably forgotten 80% of what you learned in high school. If you're a good student, and you work hard, I would bet you'll be perfectly capable of doing well in the course, even if you don't prepare ahead. I was really caught off-guard by my E&M course, but I simply worked really hard at it, and I got an A+ in the course, even though I started the course off by getting 30% on the "Stuff You Should Know For This Course" practice test.

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-Dragoon-

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Ryker said:Are you going into Physics or are you just taking this course for fun? Also, you're worried about being put a disadvantage. Well, yeah, you will have less knowledge of certain parts of physics due to not taking grade 12 physics, but from what I gather from posters that describe what the latter entails, this shouldn't be too much of a disadvantage, if at all. Plus, so what if your peers start off from a better position? If you are prepared to prepare for Physics I now, why are you afraid of the challenge there?

The bottom line is, no one knows how you'll fare in the "tougher" course, but it's a damn first year course and from what you're saying it doesn't even seem as if you'll need to get the prerequisites waived. So stop stressing, take the tougher course if you're interested in a more rigorous treatment of physics, don't if you're not.

Looking at class averages for the this year and the past 2 years being, on average, a C is quite intimidating, seeing as most of those students probably came in with the required physics knowledge needed to do well. Also, I do plan to go into physics if I do well (was planning to go into just mathematics, but now leaning in favor of mathematical physics). With that said, I'll take the more rigorous one and I'll give it my best shot.

- #20

-Dragoon-

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Honestly, the only real-world application for integration I can think of is finding the displacement if the function for the velocity is given, or the velocity at a point if the function for acceleration is given. So, would you suggest against self-learning simple integration over the summer (I can leave learning integration by parts in class)? http://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~dfvj/publications/phy151_final09.pdf for the foundations of physics I gives the function for velocity and then asks to find the displacement of the particle, which implies that I would have to integrate the function and then substitute t = 1. It seems integration is a necessary skill for this class.thegreenlaser said:It may be good. Usually you don't really get into integration until Calculus II (Finding an integral tends to be a lot less straight-forward than finding a derivative, once you move on past simple polynomials. I would bet they'll spend a good half of Calc II on integration.), so I doubt they'll use integration much in Physics I, unless you're taking it concurrently with Calc II (as was the case with my E&M course). Still, it might not hurt to at least get a feel for what integration does in a real-world system. Perhaps even just getting the text-book required for the course and reading through the first section or two, focusing on wrapping your head around the math would help. Again, the biggest thing people seem to struggle with in introductory physics classes is actually the math. It's not usually the calculation, so much as the "how the heck do I translate this ball rolling down a hill into a bunch of symbols and numbers that I can solve?"

So, really, the best thing I can do to prepare is to practice my math skills over the summer to succeed in the class? I'll definitely try my best and work real hard, but my greatest fear is that that won't be enough to do well or at least pull a 75%+ in the class.thegreenlaser said:Anyway, as Ryker said, you really don't need to worry about it. Physics profs understand that the math tends to be hard at first, and they understand that you've probably forgotten 80% of what you learned in high school. If you're a good student, and you work hard, I would bet you'll be perfectly capable of doing well in the course, even if you don't prepare ahead. I was really caught off-guard by my E&M course, but I simply worked really hard at it, and I got an A+ in the course, even though I started the course off by getting 30% on the "Stuff You Should Know For This Course" practice test.

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osnarf

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The physics and math department at my school recently were collaborating to try and fix the problem that most students in introductory physics courses face, which according to the email, was understanding how to set up integrals (as opposed to just knowing how to solve integrals) to derive things in physics. Understanding how to work with differentials is key, even in kinematics..

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thegreenlaser

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Retribution said:Looking at class averages for the this year and the past 2 years being, on average, a C is quite intimidating, seeing as most of those students probably came in with the required physics knowledge needed to do well. Also, I do plan to go into physics if I do well (was planning to go into just mathematics, but now leaning in favor of mathematical physics). With that said, I'll take the more rigorous one and I'll give it my best shot.

That's pretty normal for a university science class. Most profs at my school are pleased with how good the class is if the average on a mid-term or final is higher than ~65%. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to get the 90's you're likely used to, you'll just have to work a lot harder. That's seriously going to be the most important factor in you doing well in this class: just work really hard at it once you get there. The application of integrals is definitely tough at first, but it's by no means impossible. Just don't get discouraged, and work to get over that hump as soon as you can.

- #23

Ryker

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Yeah, you can also look at it in another way. Suppose you are currently disadvantaged in comparison to some of your future fellow students. Suppose also they take the more rigorous course, while you take the easier one. Lastly, suppose you do want to go into physics. Wouldn't it then be even harder to make up for that disadvantage than it is now? I feel first year courses are slow enough (note: I've only just finished my first year) and usually aimed at getting students to the same level, so that you are not completely overwhelmed if your knowledge isn't on par with other people's. As you go further up, it should get harder and harder, though.Retribution said:Looking at class averages for the this year and the past 2 years being, on average, a C is quite intimidating, seeing as most of those students probably came in with the required physics knowledge needed to do well. Also, I do plan to go into physics if I do well (was planning to go into just mathematics, but now leaning in favor of mathematical physics). With that said, I'll take the more rigorous one and I'll give it my best shot.

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-Dragoon-

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Wow, that is quite depressing. Why are such averages so normal, seeing as most of the students who are in the class are in university, and therefore, at least somewhat intelligent? Would going to office hours every time I am confused, utilizing past tests, reviewing my notes every night for at least an hour or two guarantee me at least a B+? I know full well that the effort needed to succeed in high school is not close to university, and I do plan to double and triple my efforts, but it would be terribly tragic if it turns out that was not enough.thegreenlaser said:That's pretty normal for a university science class. Most profs at my school are pleased with how good the class is if the average on a mid-term or final is higher than ~65%. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to get the 90's you're likely used to, you'll just have to work a lot harder. That's seriously going to be the most important factor in you doing well in this class: just work really hard at it once you get there. The application of integrals is definitely tough at first, but it's by no means impossible. Just don't get discouraged, and work to get over that hump as soon as you can.

I'm also going to be taking calculus and linear algebra, along with 2 other elective courses for first semester. I don't know how I will handle that semester, and it is my worst nightmare if I were to fail any of those courses. I do have the option of buying the textbooks earlier (linear algebra, calculus I, foundations of physics I), would you suggest I work through them over the summer and at least familiarize myself with the derivations and formulae?

I forgot to thank you for your helpful feedback, thegreenlaser. I am grateful. :)

- #25

-Dragoon-

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Ryker said:Yeah, you can also look at it in another way. Suppose you are currently disadvantaged in comparison to some of your future fellow students. Suppose also they take the more rigorous course, while you take the easier one. Lastly, suppose you do want to go into physics. Wouldn't it then be even harder to make up for that disadvantage than it is now? I feel first year courses are slow enough (note: I've only just finished my first year) and usually aimed at getting students to the same level, so that you are not completely overwhelmed if your knowledge isn't on par with other people's. As you go further up, it should get harder and harder, though.

Interesting take and I agree. I am just a tad bit intimidated after hearing all of the horror stories from the university I'm attending this fall, with the most memorable one being that 50% of first-year students fail out completely.

How was your first year, if you don't mind me asking? How were your studying habits and how well did you do? Do you feel you could have done much of the class work in physics by yourself over the summer, or was the professor's guidance a necessity to understanding the tough concepts?

I thank you as well Ryker for your helpful input and insightful comments. :)

- #26

thegreenlaser

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Retribution said:Wow, that is quite depressing. Why are such averages so normal, seeing as most of the students who are in the class are in university, and therefore, at least somewhat intelligent?

That's actually exactly why the averages are so low. Everyone coming into my engineering classes had to have an 80+ average in high school, particularly in math/science courses. So, the profs know that everyone is decently good at math/science, and they make the courses harder accordingly. If they just left the standards the same as high school, then everyone would be getting 80+ easily, people wouldn't learn nearly as much, and it would be very hard to distinguish between the ones who work hard and the ones who don't.

Retribution said:Would going to office hours every time I am confused, utilizing past tests, reviewing my notes every night for at least an hour or two guarantee me at least a B+? I know full well that the effort needed to succeed in high school is not close to university, and I do plan to double and triple my efforts, but it would be terribly tragic if it turns out that was not enough.

There's no way to guarantee you'll get a certain mark. There's no such thing as "work x hours per week, and your GPA will be y." Just work hard, do as well as you can, and

Retribution said:I'm also going to be taking calculus and linear algebra, along with 2 other elective courses for first semester. I don't know how I will handle that semester, and it is my worst nightmare if I were to fail any of those courses. I do have the option of buying the textbooks earlier (linear algebra, calculus I, foundations of physics I), would you suggest I work through them over the summer and at least familiarize myself with the derivations and formulae?

I don't think that's necessary. You're probably better off relaxing over the summer. I know it's stressful when you have no idea what college going to be like, and everyone's telling you how crazily hard it is. Is it harder? Yeah, it is. Is it doable? Of course! Tons of people just like you do fine in college. As long as you give it your best shot, you'll be fine, even if you don't get the marks you're used to from high school. Regardless, stressing about it certainly won't help.

- #27

MJay82

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You shouldn't worry about only having taken one physics course in high school. As many have said, your college physics class will not assume any knowledge of physics, but there will be an assumption of an ability to differentiate and integrate functions.

My first recommendation to you would be to go ahead and buy the text of the course you're planning on taking. Go ahead and just start reading - try to get a feel for the derivations of the formulae - just build a strong foundation here and you'll be way ahead of the curve!

If you google "MIT OpenCourseWare Physics" you could start watching the lectures delivered in MIT's intro physics course - powerful stuff! Remember, one of the keys to learning is exposure. Don't get bogged down in the details - just watch the videos and think briefly on each topic. Do some exploring if you're completely lost, but keep watching new videos. Remember that brains need breaks and you're not doing yourself any favors if you spend 8 hours a day straight learning/reading. \

On YouTube, KhanAcademy is an EXCELLENT resource as well. Lastly, I would recommend buying the 3 volume set "Feynman's Lectures on Physics". They're kind of pricy, but I think it's a worthwhile investment if you're interested in physics.

As greenlaser just said though, rest is also an important part of the equation. Treat yourself well - get in a habit of exercising daily if you don't already. Destress and get ready for the next step.

Best of luck!

- #28

Ryker

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Well, this kind of stuff spurs me on to do better, personally.Retribution said:Interesting take and I agree. I am just a tad bit intimidated after hearing all of the horror stories from the university I'm attending this fall, with the most memorable one being that 50% of first-year students fail out completely.

It went well, and I did as well as I could have hoped for. My studying habits were also good, but I'm a second degree student, so I knew how to approach it better. Granted, my first studies were in a completely different field, so there were some major adjustments to be made, but I have to say having been through this before helped tremendously.Retribution said:How was your first year, if you don't mind me asking? How were your studying habits and how well did you do?

I'm not really sure about Physics. If you asked me about Maths, then I'd say no way in hell I could've done that on my own, especially since I wasn't used to proofs from high school, but with Physics it's hard to say. Especially in our first course there were a lot of concepts that I was familiar with, and that we only built upon and delved deeper in comparison to high school. The second course introduced new things, but even then the textbook did well in explaining things, so perhaps one could have done a lot over the summer by himself. But there probably were little things that you glean from professors and that you otherwise wouldn't.Retribution said:Do you feel you could have done much of the class work in physics by yourself over the summer, or was the professor's guidance a necessity to understanding the tough concepts?

It is important to have a strong foundation in math before starting physics I. Some helpful ways to improve your math skills include practicing basic algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, reviewing previous math courses, and seeking out additional resources such as online tutorials or study groups.

Some key concepts to review before starting physics I include vectors, kinematics, Newton's laws of motion, and basic principles of energy and momentum. It is also beneficial to have a basic understanding of trigonometry and calculus.

Problem-solving skills are crucial for success in physics I. To develop these skills, it is important to practice solving different types of problems, work through practice exercises and examples, and seek help from professors or tutors when needed. Additionally, understanding the underlying concepts and principles behind the problems can also aid in problem-solving.

Yes, there are many online resources and textbooks available that can help you prepare for physics I. Some popular options include Khan Academy, OpenStax, and MIT OpenCourseWare. It is also recommended to use the textbook assigned for your specific physics I course as a resource.

Physics I can be a challenging course, but with proper preparation and dedication, it is manageable. Expect to spend a significant amount of time studying and practicing problem-solving. It is also important to attend lectures, participate in discussions, and seek help when needed. The workload may vary depending on the course and instructor, so be sure to check the syllabus for specific expectations.

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