Well, I just got back from my Physics C exams today, and I can proudly say that I bombed both of them. Actually, I'm thinking a 3/4 on Mechanics, and hopefully a 2 on E/M.
To my knowledge, I could have placed out of the general requirement for physical sciences with 3s on both of these tests. If this isn't true, ignore everything else below this and bring the mistake to my attention.
If the aforementioned statement is true, however, knowing that I had the chance to place out of my least favorite subject EVER kind of hurts. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate physical sciences. I'm terrible at them. Calc I-III I can do, but physical sciences are a no-no. I'm going to be a PoliSci/IR major - that ought to reinforce the fact that I'm not much of a math/sci person.
So...how badly will the 2 physical science requirements for the Core own me? Are they absolutely terrible? If so, it's never too late to defer a year.
Also, to get a 5 on the Phys C exam isn't that terribly difficult. I thought for sure that I'd be getting 2 or 3s and I ended up with a 4 and a 5 (enough to get out of PhySci). The 5 mark is something like a 45% on E&M and a 50% on Mechanics.
I was convinced that I had failed the BC Calc exam, and I got a five. So, relax for now.
But, regardless, phy sci isn't that bad. It's nothing like high school science, and you only need two quarters. These tend to be large, lecture classes, so the chances are you can take the classes with friends. You can even choose courses so that you avoid labs completely if that part really concerns you.
For crying out loud! Most of the people taking the Core PhySci courses never even attempted Physics C. I've seen materials from one of them, and they were algebra-y, but not remotely beyond my ability to understand, and I've forgotten 90% of the calculus I ever knew (which at its high tide was not Physics C-worthy).
Really, it's no biggie. What's more, you won't be in class with any physics jocks anymore, either. The curve will be your friend.
You may even like it. Stranger things have happened.
Meanwhile, I don't think that political science, at a high level, is a math-free zone.
Whose bright idea was it to put Bio and Physics on the same day (out of 10 possible days for AP testing)?
Anyhow, I'm trying to undo the damage of six freaking hours of standardized testing. And I'm pretty sure I'm looking at miserable scores for Mech (3?) and EM (how many 1s do they give out?), too. Let's just say from Bio to Mech to EM, there was a noticeable increase in the w.t.f!?-level and a definite decrease in my personal sanity. We should be physics-phailure buddies!
(and same here about math/calc/stats. they're all right. physics...not so much.)
Anyhow, does anyone know how exactly the science requirements work in the Core, especially for science majors? It seems like any advanced classes in sciences would just nullify any AP credit....
And (I'm still undecided on a major) what about for non-science majors? It's my understanding that a 5 in Bio and Chem would mean the end of required science classes for a non-science major...or is that just wishful thinking?
I'm pretty sure that you can't really get out of all of your Bio requirements, even with an AP 5. You would still be required to take a bio elective (which range in appeal from remarkably easy and fun to somewhat tedious and time consuming).
PhySci physics these days is about half full of AP / honors physics people, mostly B, who either failed to take the examination entirely or did poorly. Even though it is algebraically oriented as a course, I think if you have never taken a formal physics course you would be in a rough conceptual position. It would probably be better to look at the sequences that have no high school science corollary instead.
But if you have taken physics before, it’s definitely a nice option to coast through such a questionable component of the core. If you attend class (most don’t, mass exodus after week two), ask some questions, do the homework, and go to lab, you are pretty much guaranteed at least an A- (definitely not in keeping with the general UChicago academic philosophy). The second quarter is more of a pain though since it covers a lot of atomic issues, which no high school curriculum is inclined to address. The labs are a real downer time wise.
Also, bear in mind that switching to three or four social sciences courses per term now may seem awesome, but its really not. The nice thing about the core is that it maintains some sense well rounded coursework element as you get used to the rigor of the university.
A 5 on AP bio still requires you to take a biotopics elective, which can be utterly time consuming. The key is to avoid the classes that are cross listed as counting for actual science majors. This is something to actually consider for the entire core, as there is a big difference between taking introduction to media analysis or the like versus introduction to Japanese art with a bunch of third and four year art history and East Asian studies majors.
For PhySci particularly, course evaluations are your best friend. I did well in my PhySci class, it was easy, AND I learned something! It doesn't have the intellectual weight of.... any other class here, but I agree with uca that it's good to throw in a breezer or two of a class. Bio topics too was easy... the prof even said that he gives about 60% of the class an A.
Take these classes and learn something from them. If you want the harder sequences, go for them, but again, I stress that core science is not something that's going to keep you up worrying at night.
Whether I think this is fair is another story. Frankly, I take issue with the fact that freeky deeky humanities kids don't need to know anything more than what mitochondria are, and science kids are expected to dissect Aristotle as closely as they dissect cells. I think that all should be held to the level of at least intro bio, intro chem, intro physics.