Which Physics class to take??? HELP

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May 12, 2000
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I just got back from the registrar office...I went to register for my first semester Physics class (I'm a post-bacc student) and they had two to choose from that satisfy pre-med requirements.
First was algebra based
Second was algebra based with a trig component

Anyone have any feedback on whether we need a good trig based physics class????

I told the clerk I'd be back in a couple of days.

Any help would be appreciated...

Confused in Germany

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you might want to recheck with them...usually there is gen physics that is trig/algebra based and then gen physics that is calc based. I'm not sure you could really study physics without the trig component considering all the vector analysis involved with it. Anyway, when you take the MCAT the physical science portion assumes you are familiar with trig based physics, you don't have to take the calc based physics. From what people who are math wizzes (read: "not me") tell me the calc based is easier at times...assuming you know enough about calc to do it. Best of luck with whatever you decide!
take the trig based one. I'm not sure the other fills the requirements at every school.
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I am taking an algebra based physics (general physics). I have also heard of physics courses that are supposedly for pre-med/pre-dental students. These are usually calculus based.
Basically, I don't know what to tell you. Take whichever gets you a better grade.

Josh Hazelton
[email protected]
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
"D.O. Wannabe"

Usually if two versions of physics are offered, one is calculus-based (for engineering majors, physics majors, et al) and one is algebra-based (for pre-med students). The latter definitely has a trig component. Even if your trig is a bit rusty, don't worry. When you cover vectors there will likely be a quick recap of sine, cosine, tangent, etc.

Most med schools require only the algebra-based version, not the calc version.

Thanks for all the replies....I signed up for the trig/alegebra based version...Wish me luck...

I would like to clear up a big misconception that people have about the different types of physics.

OK, now for algebra/trig physics, you will need to use those two areas of math to solve the problems.

Now, for calculus physics, you will need algebra, trig, and calculus to solve the problems. However, the vast majority of physics professors only give you a very few problems that require you to actually use calculus; most of the time the only place you will actually see calculus is when the equations are derived from physical laws (e.g. Newton's law F = mA). Therefore, calculus-based physics is not really that much harder than the noncalculus based physics. What happens is that the professor uses calculus on the chalkboard to derive some important equation, and then you use that equation (NOT the calculus derivation behind it) to solve problems. Unless the professor asks you to show the calculus derivation of a certain equation on a test (which the vast majority do not) then you really dont even need to know the calculus to begin with in order to do well.

Since I'm engineering, (4 classes of calculus, 2 classes of differential equations) I was required to take the calculus based physics, but only very rarily did I actually have to use calculus to solve the problems on tests. Instead you would just use the result of the calculus derivation (which is what the noncalc physics students would memorize anyways).

Moral of the story: it doesnt really matter which one you take and the calc based version is really not that much harder than the noncalculus version.

"There is nothing more powerful on this Earth as a man who has nothing to lose. It does not take ten such men to change the world--one will do." Elijah Mohammed