Join Date: Dec 2011
Heh, I logged into reply to this only to see that you found me first.
I don't remember what I posted in the other thread, but basically you should have an excellent handle at mechanics, not just because fundamentals of forces and energy are part of E+M, but also because when those questions show up you shouldn't think about them at all. Ideally you should spend no time at all reviewing mechanics, except maybe some sparse topics within oscillation and gravitation etc. The questions are a lot more basic than the AP MC, so really each type of question should already be etched in your mind, ready to go.
E+M, at least for the subject test, is easy. If you're interested in the topic, it'll be really easy. I was not so interested in waves, and so that was definitely the longest unit of my study; but E+M is really cool, at least to me, so it was fun learning that stuff.
I used a Princeton Review Physics Subject Test book to self-study, and I recommend you do the same. Physics C is beyond the subject test level (not even including the calculus); you'll end up learning things like Maxwell's Equations which, while incredibly amazing, do not show up in the subject test. Plus, the other topics are still important. While E+M and Mechanics might take up more than half the test, do understand that there is still a significant amount of other topics to learn. The most important is definitely waves (mechanical, light, then sound), but heat/thermo is also significant. The nuclear stuff is also featured on the first few matching questions, so you should understand that too (alpha particles, positrons, deuterons, etc.). Modern physics like relativity is just too simple to skip; don't throw away those free points.
Basically, learn it all if you want high-700s - 800. Just knowing mechanics and E+M will probably net you the low 700s, assuming you're proficient at those topics, but I see no reason why one shouldn't just shoot for the highest. I received no additional tutoring, from teachers or otherwise, so it's definitely possible. I just had a prep book and five pages of blank, white paper. Oh and multiple colors of pens; it really helps organize notes, but of course do what works for you.
As for how much, well like I said I used five pages of paper, front and back, full of equations, descriptions, and diagrams. I'm actually quite proud of it. It took a while; I probably started studying for real once AP exams were over, using every opportunity I had in school to take some more notes. Homework was also pretty lax after the APs, so I had considerably more time at home to study. By the last three weeks before the test I actually scheduled everything I had left to study, including time for practice tests and reviewing. I won't lie, it takes a solid amount of dedication, interest, and maybe some refined study habits to get through and digest all the topics on the subject test. But, in my opinion, it's well worth it. You should have plenty of time from now til October.
Sorry for the long-winded response, I got a bit carried away. If there's anything specific you want to ask, I'll try my best to help.