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Which is easier: Physics 1 or Chemistry 1?

  1. Feb 22, 2011 #1
    Which is easier for someone who is absolutely terrible in any sort of Science.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2011 #2


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    I'm not familiar with the class numbering system you're referring to. Is Physics 1 calculus based, or algebra based?
  4. Feb 22, 2011 #3
    Kinda depends on alot of factors. Physics is more mathy while chem has alot of rote memorization. What is easier depends on what you will find more interesting therefore it'll be easier to work harder. Also things like what book or who's the professor makes all the difference.

    I found chem easier than physics judging from the amount of work I needed to put in. I was actually successful in physics but I do find physics more interesting and I'm an EE major so physics was really important while chem was just something I needed to eventually finish.

    EDIT: Just for clarification I'm referring to a Calculus based physics I that covers classical mechanics, gravitation, waves, and a bit of thermodynamics. Chem I was (IIRC) stoichiometry, reactions, thermochemistry, quantum numbers and energy shells (abit though I remember zero about em) and a bit of molecular geometry.
  5. Feb 22, 2011 #4
    Physics. I felt more comfortable with the math and concepts in physics. Chemistry kicks my butt for some reason and really can't explain why.
  6. Feb 22, 2011 #5
    Expect both to be very easy.
    Physics, especially at your average university, is going to be slightly less work (with less work-intensive labs). But honestly, both are incredibly straightforward.
  7. Feb 22, 2011 #6
    Chemistry was a fun class for me, but I didn't really realize it until I was in Chem 2. In Physics, most everything comes down to being able to integrate and differentiate and figuring out what to integrate and differentiate. For me, chemistry, even at the low levels I took it, relies so much on quantum theory from physics that a lot of the book is "this is true, believe us" or "well, things usually work out this way, so believe us." Then, however, you start encountering seemingly random violations of principles that you don't really understand until you are in Chem 2 (and then there are plenty of things in Chem 2 that don't make sense that are probably cleared up in later courses.)
  8. Feb 22, 2011 #7
    My intro physics class was the hardest class I've ever taken. We were expected to prove everything using very fundamental laws which we "discovered" in the labs. It was a lot of thinking about how to apply the calculus we've learned, and it was no where near a "plug and chug" course. Chemistry I was my easiest class last semester. It was simply memorization and plugging and chugging. The memorization made sense, unlike having to memorize for history or art, so it was really quite simple. (Then I'm a chemE major, so I may be biased..)
  9. Feb 23, 2011 #8
    Physics is ALWAYS easier than Chemistry in all aspects, but it can depend on the teacher...
  10. Feb 23, 2011 #9
    I completely disagree with the consensus in this thread. Physics is far harder than chemistry, at least at my school. Then again, that could be because my physics class is calculus based, and thus more rigorous.
  11. Feb 23, 2011 #10
    Nice arguments! Care to elaborate?

    I personally agree with angry citizen. Chemistry I was one of the easiest courses ever for me. Basic chemistry is more "rule of thumb" than physics, which requires more insight.
  12. Feb 23, 2011 #11
    Leave him be, he's bitter, because he thinks he's going to fail his Chemistry class, or trolling. Based on his previous posts, both are equally as likely.
  13. Feb 23, 2011 #12
    Chemistry is not like Physics, you can't solve it with Math. It is just memorizing formulas and applying them properly. There is a hell lot of memorization especially in solubility and Organic Chemistry.

    If you are good at Math you are good at Physics, for Chemistry it's just a pretentious subject that will always be in the shadows of Physics and Mathematics.
  14. Feb 23, 2011 #13
    Actually you can solve chemistry problems with math and there is an overlap with physics in physical chemistry. You basic chemistry course is no indication of what chemistry is, I guess. Also I would like to stress that physics is more than math.

    But I'll leave you to your bitter self.
  15. Feb 23, 2011 #14
    I think it's the nomenclature of chemistry that gets me tripped up, it's like listening to someone speak a foreign language. In physics, I felt the math was the language and if something tripped me up I could "translate" it easier.

    *vent on*
    Also, in my chemistry 1 class, there were a handful of students who had AP chem before and would constantly ask questions that were like "hey I'm gonna pretend I'm really looking smart here and ask something that we're gonna cover in chapter 10." When we were in chapter 2...

    99% of time these questions were of the flavor of "what's it called when you have such and such?" Then the professor would answer annoyingly "well, it's called this and we'll cover that later..." The student would then respond with "ohh yeah, I remember that."

    This rarely happened in my physics class.
    *powering down...*
  16. Feb 23, 2011 #15
    I see what you're saying, but angry citizen has a point. Yes, math is used in Chemistry; but this is kind of like saying Math is used in accounting. Physics is essentially based in Math; sure there is some observation that goes one, but at least the Physics taught in the first calc-based physics classes are much more theoretical than in the chem classes. This isn't any fault of chemistry; the fact is that dealing with stuff on the atomic and subatomic levels is pretty tedious and if you don't have a good understanding of this sort of thing (which most people taking this sort of chem class do not have) then there is just a lot of memorizing.

    Now, that being said, and keeping in mind that I am horrible at memorizing stuff, I really liked my chemistry classes. They can REALLY help explain how different things in the world work. For example, I go to school full time but I also have a job. At this job, we were having a hard time cleaning this one material. However, we were using polar solvents (in particular acetone) but the material was non-polar. I came up with the idea to switch to hexane, a non-polar cleaner and it cleaned the material.

    So, I think that I can solve this by suggesting that you take BOTH! They are both interesting and they are both useful, so there is really no reason not to take them both. You might find you really like one and want to change your major. For example, when I started college I wanted to major in History, now I am a math major with my sights set on graduate school. This is quite a switch that was only made possible by the fact that I had to take a Calc. class.
  17. Feb 23, 2011 #16
    ^this is not always true. The hardest class I have finished to date was my calc based intro physics course. My professor usually assigned the hardest problems at the end of the chapter for the problem sets, and frequently problems of this difficulty(that sometimes took me days to figure out) were on the tests. The class reallllllly depends on your professor. Chemistry 1 was probably the easiest college science course I have taken. It was essentially memorization with a few problems here and there that actually required deep thought. I know this is just chem 1, and that chemistry is surely a tough subject, but we are comparing chem 1 to physics 1, and I am very positive physics 1 is more difficult for almost everyone(assuming you have equal interest in both classes).

    I guess for the OP you should just take both and see for yourself!
  18. Feb 24, 2011 #17
    You are all "flyingpig almost failed Chemistry and flyingpig complains a lot and therefore everything he says about Chemistry is wrong"

    The only "math" behind Chemistry is balancing equations, solving for moles, rate laws, and thermodynamics. The first-yearChem I took didn't stress very hard on the Math.

    You are given some set of data, unless you know everything inside out there is almost always that one extra info that you don't know and you can't know it until you do a experiment. It's like Lab problems, in Physics all of them are mathematically answerable, in Chemistry, you just need to know what is given in the Lab manual.
  19. Feb 24, 2011 #18
    A solid grasp of what the symbols mean in chemistry is WAY more than enough to ace Chem 1&2 at any state school I've ever seen (or attended post-graduate).
    Almost universally they give you equation sheets. Knowing what problems go with what equations + tracking units = 100 in Chemistry.

    Non-calc based physics is basically the same, but maybe a bit more difficult? maybe? only because of the optics/waves I guess.
  20. Feb 27, 2011 #19
    I think physics I is very intuitive. It should all make perfect sense. Chem I (while it should still make sense), you have to go a little more on faith.
  21. Feb 27, 2011 #20
    I personally found chemistry to be easier than physics, but also considerably less interesting, thus I got a lower grade in it.
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