Physics W or W/O Calc.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Karina, Oct 11, 2002.

  1. Karina

    Karina Surgeon in training...

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    I was just wondering...next semester I will have to take Physics, and then I will be ready to take the MCAT, and I wanted to know whether I should take Physics With or Without Calculus...I did very well in Calc. and I actually loved it, but I hate physics, and I am trying to make the best decision here.

    I don't know...what is the trend? Who took physics with and who took physics without calc?
    I am just trying to see what everyone else is doing out there... some input would be nice :)

    All right!
    Take Care Y'all!
    Karina
     
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  3. Street Philosopher

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    i would take it with calculus. in my opinion, non-calculus based should be taught in high school, not in college.
     
  4. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Take Physics with Calculus. This is more challenging, and I think more enjoyable. Calculus, however, doesn't help with medicine unless you go into biomedical engineering or some math intensive speciality, which are very few.
     
  5. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    I agree with you. But I think that the physics most of the pre-meds around here take is non-calculus-based. Not sure though. I took a much more hardcore intro physics class (three levels of "intro" here)...
     
  6. Street Philosopher

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    oh i didn't know that. at ucla i don't think non-calc based physics is even offered.
     
  7. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    I just checked the course catalog. The first level doesn't require calculus like the other two. It's affectionately referred to as "baby physics" around heres...
     
  8. The Hulk

    The Hulk Official Green Monster

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    While everyone goes physics w/o calc. bashing, I would like to add my two cents:

    1) physics w/o claculus is, in my oppinion, more difficult than physics with calculus. This is simply the result of the fact that physics w/o calculus is physics with trigonometry, and I always found triogonmetry more difficult than calculus.

    2) there are no MCAT Physics topics that are covered in physics w/calc that are not covered in physicsw/trig. In general, there are no major differences to the topics covered between the two courses, with the exception that in physics w/ calculus you can solve kinematics equations for "instantaneous" times.

    3) I am currently taking physics w/trig in my post-bac program. I took AP Physics (w/calc.) in highschool, and I can tell you that it is far from another year of highschool physics. The work is intense and fast-paced.

    my point, the method of calculation (trig versus calc) is not what makes the class difficult or easy, its the professor, the pace, the students and the questions themselves... ;)
     
  9. geromine

    geromine Senior Member

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    I agree, the only reason that physics with calculus would be more difficult than non-calculus physics is if you don't have a good handle on calculus. The content is exactly the same and the only thing that's different is that many of the formulas are derived using calculus so in non-calculus physics you won't know why certain equations work the way they do. BUT their application is exactly the same.
    Anyways, if you are definitely sure that you want to go into a clinical (not research) medicine, then you don't have to and probably shouldn't take the calculus based physics. Because calculus-based physics classes are full of engineering students that are presumably more mathematically inclined than you. So if the class is graded on a curve you'd be at a disadvantage.
     
  10. emedpa

    emedpa GlobalDoc

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    without. very few medschools require calc and I am not interested in those that do. if you think you will need it for research go for it, otherwise do your gpa a favor and take regular physics.
     
  11. Lt. Ub

    Lt. Ub Senior Member

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    I did it without - my best section on the MCAT was the physical sciences. Calculus is just plain unnecessary. But if you enjoy it, hey...
     
  12. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Enzyme Regulators, Ride!

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    I took physics w/o calculus. The Univ of Washington course catalog describes the course sequence as, "suitable for students majoring in technically oriented fields other than engineering or the physical sciences." Personally, I find the life sciences more interesting and gratifying.

    It seems absurd to me that an Adcom would sit around the table and talk about interviewed applicants only to conclude that the guy who took physics with calculus is the better choice. I'm not suggesting that academic rigor is a non-factor, but rather at the interview stage your motivation for medicine and committment to community might be more relevant. ;) -dh
     
  13. The Hulk

    The Hulk Official Green Monster

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    Good point geromine, particularly about the understanding with calculus. Reading your e-mail made me remember one of my most exciting academic moments in highschool... when I realized the first deriv. of distance was velocity, and the second derivative was acceleration. Calculus just made the concepts seem to fit together better.
     
  14. gotgirth

    gotgirth Greatest Icon in Wrestlng

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    With regards to 1:

    Both the calculus and non-calculus based courses should have a good amount of trigonometry in it - this is going to be necessary when you break things into components regardless of if you are using calculus or not...i.e. it isn't a matter of "calculus vs. trig" but rather a matter of "calculus+trig vs. trig".

    With regards to 2:

    True regarding the same topics being covered, but depending on the school which you attend, the calculus based course may cover topics more in depth/at a greater level of complexity. In the calculus based course here at my school (U of Illinois), calculus itself is rarely used when you actually solve problems. But the problems you solve are significantly more difficult than in the non-calculus course.

    With regards to 3:

    This will probably vary depending on your high school physics course and the course at your college. Before coming to college I had taken a pretty rigorous AP-Physics (Calc-based) course, and the level of difficulty in the high school courses was about equal to the college calc-based physics course.

    General comments:

    In my view, there are benefits to each decision. For the calculus based course, it may be more difficult, but after taking it the MCAT physics section will be a joke. At the same time, if you hate physics and don't do well in the course, it could be more beneficial GPA-wise to take the non-calc course (in an ideal world this would not be a concern, but I know several pre-meds at my school who have taken this into consideration). My overall advise? - Go for the calc based, you will learn more..although again it is going to depend a lot on how the courses are set up at your school.
     
  15. SM-UCLA tech

    SM-UCLA tech CCOM MS4 soon OB/Gyn PGY1

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    Everyone has pretty muched summed up what to do.....

    In my opinion, physics w/ calc is the better way to go. Either one will prepare you for the MCAT. But some schools might want to see the calc based physics if you have the choice. I took mine at ucla and they only offer physics w/ calc. I didn't find it difficult. And as someone said earlier, it's what the prof. makes of the class, not necessarily the basis of the mathematics.
     
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  17. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg 1K Member

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  18. isidella

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    I took calc-based physics, but I don't recall actually having to do hardcore calculus to solve the problems. Eveything was pretty intuitive.
     
  19. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    I am taking physics without calc and I think it would have been much easier to take the w/calc class. There are just a number of things that are easier to do if you have a firm grasp of calc (acceleration and velocity) and somethings that you need calculus to do (moment of inertia requires integral calc).
     
  20. CaNEM

    CaNEM Senior Member

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    I've taken Calc, but when it came time for physics, I took with version WITHOUT calculus. Premeds at my school are encouraged to take the non-calc physics, because a few med schools have a preference for physics w/o calc (don't ask me why). In addition, the physics on the MCAT is algebra-, not calc-based.

    I would imagine, which physics you took wouldn't make a huge difference in the end anyway. Personally, when I visit a new physician, my first question isn't whether they took calc or algebra-based physics. ;)
     
  21. Polar girl

    Polar girl Senior Member

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    The decision also depends on how the classes are at your school.

    At my school, the physics with calc was a joke. It was a class for physics majors, but it was the intro class for them, so it was meant for freshman and sophomores. No one showed up to class because it was so easy. The tests were multiple choice. The pre-meds that took that class did it because they wanted a really easy class.

    On the other hand, general physics (a non-calc class) was basically a class for pre-meds and certain science majors that had to take it. It was taught (at least until this year) by the most "hard-core" physics teacher on campus. It was much more difficult, but it really prepared you for the MCAT, and if you got a good grade in that class, you really knew your physics.
     
  22. An Yong

    An Yong Senior Member

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    wow thats like my school as well, i think it ironic that the physics class designed for physics/math majors is actually A LOT easier than the one designed for non-physics/math majors
     

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