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What to expect from my Mechanics freshmen class

  1. Aug 22, 2011 #1
    I'm going to be starting my first year in college soon as a physics Major and I have very high standards when it comes to physics. Last year I took AP physics C Mechanics and E@M, the problem was that I had 10 other classes in high school so I couldn't devote proper time to physics. So I noticed that I wasn't able to solve every freshmen level Mechanics problem I came across and this made me feel inadequate in mechanics. Despite getting a good grade in the class and on the AP exam I feel I didn't learn enough that's why I am retaking mechanics and E@M in college. After my mechanics class I want to be able to solve 99% of all freshmen level problems that just require knowledge in mechanics. Is this level of expectation to high or ideal?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2011 #2
    Depends what you mean by "be able to solve." If you mean you want to practice enough problems that you'll have seen something similar to every freshman physics problem (which tends to be what "be able to solve" means when you're in high school), then that's probably not going to help you very much. If by "be able to solve" you mean you want to understand the concepts deeply enough that you're able to tackle a completely new type of problem you've never seen before (at a freshman level) then that's a good goal. You probably should be able to solve most of the problems thrown at you, but it shouldn't be just because you've done enough problems already that you know what to do. What really tests your ability is if you can use what you know to solve something you've never seen before. That's something that gets stressed a lot more in university than in high school. For that reason, it may help to take a freshman mechanics course to help you attain that sort of problem-solving mindset. However, don't get lulled into thinking that you're always going to have that much time to solidify concepts in your brain. Most of university is going to be much quicker paced than high school, which is one reason that it's so important to focus on concepts rather than just doing loads of practice problems.
     
  4. Aug 22, 2011 #3
    I want to be able to solve problems using the "If by "be able to solve" you mean you want to understand the concepts deeply enough that you're able to tackle a completely new type of problem you've never seen before (at a freshman level) then that's a good goal." definition. Thanks a lot for the advice.
     
  5. Aug 22, 2011 #4
    You're probably going to get hit by some seriously difficult problems. I still have never been able to solve one of the "three dot" problems from Halliday's Fundamentals of Physics (these being the most challenging). That might say something about me, or it might say something about your freshman intro physics class. I'll let you be the judge - just know that I came out of both my intro physics classes with B's, half the class dropped, and only a few people got A's.
     
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