Lefty Doodle

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I'm a non-trad, trying to complete my prereqs in a year (mostly so I can go back to working after this year until med school, whenever that may be). I really don't like physics, and the time I have to put into it takes a lot of time away from my other studying. I've been doing ok in everything so far, but think next semester (orgo II, physics II, third year physiology II) will be a whole different beast. Instead of giving up physiology (=really long lab reports) for an easier course, though, I am considering switching out physics II for an intro-level bio (they have first year microbio here, for instance). The reason I want to give up physics instead of (not very mandatory) physio is that a) I really enjoy my physiology course and b) I want to ask my physiology lab prof for a letter of recommendation and I want to get to know him better before I do that. Also, some of the schools I am looking at actually do require a full year of upper-level bio. Oh and all of the physics profs here are horrible--they just work equations all class but the midterm was mostly conceptual. I've always been a self-teacher, but it would help if I got anything out of class.

For me it would be ideal to maybe get a physics tutor and try and learn the second semester stuff for the MCAT, take the MCAT in the beginning of the summer so I can apply early, and worry about physics II later in the summer or the fall. There is actually a high school teacher who comes to campus and gives seminars every week on what they're doing in our physics class and I could perhaps commit myself to going to that. I am just afraid that I will not only not do great in physics, but it will impact my other grades.

I guess what I'm looking for is thoughts on whether I'm just being a baby about not wanting to take physics II and orgo II together, and thoughts on trying to self-learn for the MCAT. If my practice test scores suffer because of it I am totally ok with putting off the MCAT until after I take physics II, I just thought quarantining physics would be a good way to divide unpleasantness up.
 

DrMidlife

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Chance of physics II topics being on the MCAT: 100%.
Chance of orgo II topics being on the MCAT: maybe 50%.

Any chance you can postpone orgo instead of physics?

Also, have you taken a practice MCAT yet? At least see what your verbal score is - this is the number that is by far the hardest to change. www.e-mcat.com, first one's free.

Best of luck to you.
 

phltz

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As a former physics teacher, I'd like to apologize for all the lousy ones out there. There are a lot of them. That said, your plan seems unwise to me. I assume you're planning on taking the MCAT sometime May-July. You need to learn the physics II material before you take it. As crappy as your professor may be, I think you're better off in the class with a tutor as backup than out of the class with a tutor as your only resource and a whole nother class to worry about as well.

I've tutored a lot of people in physics, and the only student I ever had who seemed to learn it well without also taking a class was the kind of kid who just naturally got math and physics stuff. Useless though your professor may seem, it is really hard to do this without the structure, especially if you'd be taking three other classes (two of them with substantial labs) and studying for the MCAT concurrently.

Hell, I'd offer to tutor you, but I guess you're in Minnesota.
 
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zebalong

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Very unsmart move.

VERY VERY... please don't do this.

As you said yourself, you don't like physics... i know its only natural to try and make it a little easier for yourself but in the long run you will pay. The MCAT is very heavy on phys. 2 and most of the questions aren't purely plug and chug, they require you to have a deeper understanding.

And think about it this way, in medical school you can't "put off" anything, there will be times it will be worst then just taking ochem and physics together. Your premed courses are there to prime you for the real thing. There will be times where it will suck and you just have to bend over to grab your ankles...

It is worth it though :love:
 
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Lefty Doodle

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Thanks, this is the type of tough love I need. Keep it coming ;-)
 

ShyRem

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Physics isn't that hard. Really. Folks just hear the word "physics" and immediately think "Oh, CRAP".

They key to physics 1 and 2: think like an idiot. Really. It's there to explain what you already know happens. Draw a pretty picture of what you already know happens. Then figure out what they're looking for, what you are given, and what equations have both of those things in them. Your professor is really trying to give you a gift in not making you figure out the equation part - that's what generally gives most students a really hard time. They choose the wrong equation.
 

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I think another key to physics is not over thinking things. Assume the concepts are very simple ideas rather than thinking, "OMG, its physics, I'm not suppose to understand this kinda stuff, its for geniuses." I find its helpful for me to take all the BS language out of things and just put the ideas in my own dumb downed words. If you can do that, you know you really understand things and will be able to navigate your way through the problems. If you can't do that, ask your tutor to put it in simple language.

I think people mess up b/c they plug and chug on the homework without really understanding the ideas, and they HAPPEN to get enough of the problems right that they think they're ready for the test. You should be able to explain why you're doing each step of the problem. I find its helpful for me to write down in words why I'm doing a step my first time attempting problems. This way I can see exactly where my logic failed when I get a problem wrong.

Anyway, I haven't taken physics 2 yet, but this has helped me do very well in physics I. Best of luck.
 

Isoprop

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As a physics tutor and teacher, I understand that physics can be challenging and frustrating. Especially the second semester stuff-- the problems are more abstract with more "invisible" forces and less intuition.

I highly recommend you not postpone physics. There is an overrepresenation of physics II material on the MCAT, and that stuff is hard to learn on your own. Doing well on the MCAT is much more important than getting a physio LOR. If you do push back physics, please consider pushing back your MCAT as well.

If you feel your coursework is too much to handle, I recommend dropping the physio course.
 
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Lefty Doodle

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I'm actually in Manitoba (reciprocity with MN!!!). The reason I kind of wanted to put off physics II instead of orgo II is that I kind of want to move back to Minnesota after this year and take any remaining classes at U of MN (just biochem and either orgo II or physics II). And I think physics II at a different institution will be less of a problem than doing orgo II at a different institution (good to know I'd be able to do physics II in the fall!!). I know for a fact we're doing orgo I differently than many places, including absolutely no emphasis on nomenclature, we're just now talking about reactions, etc.

In any case I am now thoroughly convinced that if I do put off physics II I will need to put off the MCAT ;-).

With my life so up in the air it is probably best to just finish my prereqs already and give up physio if anything. I had my physio lab prof for Bio II so hopefully he will agree to write an LOR on the strength of those two experiences with me.
 
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I think one of the biggest problems for most people is they really don't learn in physics I and II what they need for the MCAT. Many of the physical science questions do not require you to memorize an equation of know the intricacies of some force, it is reasoning through the problem with what is given to you. While not required, taking a class above introductory physics, calc based instead of trig based, or something like modern physics would prepare someone better for the MCAT.

Of course I may be biased, my BS is in physics.
 
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Lefty Doodle

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God being a pre-med who majored in physics sounds sooo nice right now.
 

mspeedwagon

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Although, not in your shoes exactly, I have decided to most likely put off Physics II after taking Physics I. Here are my reasons:

1) My prof. sucks. The class isn't hard. The professor makes us memorize certain items including certain problems that show up on the test. I feel like though I'm doing well, I don't really understand how to do the problems, I just memorize how they are solved. The fact that I can either Physics II with him in the spring or with someone else in the fall is making me strongly lean toward the fall.

2) The homework. Since I don't learn much in class, I always struggle with the homework. The class uses masteringphysics and I find myself resorting to google searches to find how the problems are solved rather than being able to deduce them. The textbook isn't great either as there is a huge gap between the worked out examples and the problems at the end of the chapter (the end of the chapter being way harder).

3) The commute. I'm in Redwood City and commuting to Berkeley in rush hour takes forever. I need two hours just to get to class, which has been far from ideal. I always show up to class exhausted from driving in rush hour traffic and then the class is four hours long.

4) A recent lay-off and a new position. I was recently laid-off and want to get a feel of my new position before I commit to taking any classes that meet on weekdays. I am currently planning to only take a lab or two in the spring.

5) Delayed timelines for the MCAT. I'm in a position where I need to take Physics II and Chem II to complete the pre-med requirements as far as content for MCAT is concerned, but I'm lacking behind in labs. I still need both physics labs and both orgo labs as well as a G-Chem II lab. Taking all this while traveling each week for work is unrealistic. If I knew I'd 100% get into medical school, I'd give up everything and do all this and prep for the MCAT. Given that isn't the case, I feel delaying is a wiser decision.

Hopefully some of the above helps you with your decision. I felt the above 5 reasons were "good" reasons for delaying Physics II. Hopefully, this helps you weigh the pros and cons for you.
 
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gunito

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There's a book called Physics as a Second language that seems pretty good. I would get it but my teacher can't get any better. Honestly, physics isn't that hard, and that's coming from someone who is not found of math.
 
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Lefty Doodle

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Thanks I'll try to find that book (preferably NOW!). I decided I'll just go ahead with my original course plan. I had a hard month with midterms and lab reports (every day that I had a midterm I also had a big lab report due!!) but now that I'm into things more, I think it will be better.
 

StudyShy

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Hey, Elizabeth! My name is Elizabeth, and I grew up in St. Paul (in Michigan now). :)

I'll be taking physics II next semester so if you take it also, it would be fun to study via skype. We could get some skype study sessions going. We can rock the crap out of physics!
 
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I skipped physics 2 before the MCAT and relied instead on self study. I probably spend half of my total MCAT study time on Physics alone. My PS score took a hit, but it wasn't devastating. I don't know if I'll get accepted anywhere, but judging by the interview offers I've received so far, it hasn't really hurt. My other two scores were pretty good and frankly I am not the super-strong science kind of applicant. So, yes, it is a risk, but personally, I was not willing to wait another year to apply to medical school, and so far, the gamble seems to have paid off. It really depends on your overall situation and how many other "risks" you are taking. This was one of the few risks I took.
 

CougarMD

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I also think that the Physics II stuff is really different from Physics I. In I you are doing kinematics and annoying equations. In II it is magnetism and electricity and EM spectrum and I felt like it was a lot more fun.

My Physics I teacher was AMAZING (and even wrote me an LOR) and my Physics II teacher was AWFUL. I still liked the material in Physics II better. I felt like once I understood what was happening, those were the "easy" physics questions on the MCAT. And those questions come up a LOT (Lenses, Waves, Magnets, Electricity, EM Spectrum).
 
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Lefty Doodle

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Yeah I took a diagnostic MCAT yesterday and easily half of the physics questions were from physics II--I got hit with sound, lenses and electricity! But I still got an 8. I hope this means I can get a 10 + after taking physics II !!
 

1fastmedic

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I would think that to really optimize your score, waiting to take the MCAT after you take Physics II is the better choice. Regardless, you have to have the pre-req, and even with a crappy instructor the exposure would probably give you a better chance to score higher, which may be all the difference in being accepted to your first choice school. I wouldn't rush into taking the MCAT without taking that course. Either way, good luck in your endeavor!
 

gunito

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I also think that the Physics II stuff is really different from Physics I. In I you are doing kinematics and annoying equations. In II it is magnetism and electricity and EM spectrum and I felt like it was a lot more fun.

My Physics I teacher was AMAZING (and even wrote me an LOR) and my Physics II teacher was AWFUL. I still liked the material in Physics II better. I felt like once I understood what was happening, those were the "easy" physics questions on the MCAT. And those questions come up a LOT (Lenses, Waves, Magnets, Electricity, EM Spectrum).
Sounds like fun. Im taking phy II next semester. All these equations are annoying.