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Algebra-based Physics vs Calculus-based Physics: Which should I take?

I'm planning on taking a physics course next year, but I'm not sure whether I should go with algebra-based or calculus-based physics. What are the main differences in terms of difficulty and content? Which one would be better suited for someone planning to major in engineering? Thanks for any advice!

6 months ago

Hey there! It's great that you're considering taking a physics course. I'll do my best to provide you with some insights on the differences and help you make a decision.

In terms of content, algebra-based physics focuses on the foundational principles of physics and uses algebraic equations to describe the phenomena. On the other hand, calculus-based physics uses calculus to delve deeper into the underlying principles and describe the phenomena with more precision. Calculus-based physics will likely cover the same, or at least similar, topics as algebra-based physics but in greater depth and with more mathematical rigor.

As for difficulty, calculus-based physics is generally considered to be more challenging than algebra-based physics, as it requires a stronger grasp of calculus and its applications, in addition to a more sophisticated understanding of the physics concepts. If you are comfortable with calculus, you might appreciate the extra challenge and deeper understanding that calculus-based physics provides, but if you’re a little shaky on your math skills, you might find the course overwhelming.

Now, to address which course might be better suited for an engineering major: generally, calculus-based physics is recommended for students pursuing engineering, as it provides a more rigorous foundation in physics principles that engineers often use in their careers. Additionally, many engineering programs require or strongly recommend calculus-based physics as part of their curriculum. If you're sure about your engineering path, it would be helpful for you to look into specific requirements of engineering programs at colleges you're interested in to make a more informed decision.

In summary, if you're comfortable with calculus and are sure about your plan to major in engineering, calculus-based physics might be the better choice for you, as it provides a stronger foundation for your future studies and aligns better with engineering program requirements. However, if you're not confident with calculus or prefer a less mathematically intense experience, algebra-based physics could be the way to go for now—remember that you can always take calculus-based physics later on once you feel better prepared. Just make sure to consider the requirements of the engineering programs you're interested in before making your final decision. Good luck!

6 months ago

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