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Physics C Mechanics but not Electricity and Magnetism

juniormom2juniormom2 3 replies2 threads New Member
My son is taking a bunch of rigorous courses in his junior year. He is also enrolled for both Physics C AP courses (fall and spring semesters) while learning calculus alongside instead of prior. To free up some time during the spring and AP season, is it advisable or even acceptable to take just mechanics in the fall (and the mechanics AP), but drop the spring electromagnetism course and its AP exam?

It won't go under his required course load because he is currently enrolled for an extra course (CS) so dropping one would still be the normal course load of 5 at his prep school.
13 replies
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Replies to: Physics C Mechanics but not Electricity and Magnetism

  • skieuropeskieurope 41675 replies8008 threads Super Moderator
    It is certainly acceptable as long as his overall schedule is acceptably rigorous.

    Is it advasable? Depends on his future plans and other courses.
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  • 1Lotus1Lotus 377 replies25 threads Member
    edited September 15
    If interested, you may want to ask his teacher, but I think D took AP Physics 1 sophomore year (and test), then only AP Physics C Elec/Magnetism junior year but was able to apply that knowledge to take both AP Physics C Elec/Magnetism AND AP Physics C Mechanical. I was nervous about this plan, but it worked for her. AP Physics C-Mechanical was not offered at her school. She said it would probably not have worked the other way around--to take only Mechanical and not Elec/Magnetism. She plans to be a Physics major in college and had a great teacher. Just throwing out an idea, certainly depends on the student/teacher, etc. She was in Calc BC while taking Physics C Elec/Magnetism...and enjoys math.
    edited September 15
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84671 replies752 threads Senior Member
    Regardless of the effect on college admission, note that physics C E&M is less likely to be given subject credit or advanced placement, because college physics for physics or engineering majors commonly has multivariable calculus as a corequisite for the course that covers E&M.
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  • randomPeoplerandomPeople 29 replies4 threads Junior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Regardless of the effect on college admission, note that physics C E&M is less likely to be given subject credit or advanced placement, because college physics for physics or engineering majors commonly has multivariable calculus as a corequisite for the course that covers E&M.

    there are high schools which have similar requirements.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 2576 replies37 threads Senior Member
    You don't need MVC to understand E&M, although math helps. Physics is about understanding how the world works. It's much better to understand why something work the way it does physically and intuitively, than based on some mathematical formula.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84671 replies752 threads Senior Member
    1NJParent wrote: »
    You don't need MVC to understand E&M, although math helps. Physics is about understanding how the world works. It's much better to understand why something work the way it does physically and intuitively, than based on some mathematical formula.

    Then why does physics for physics majors use more math than physics for biology majors or non-majors? Physics majors are expected to understand how the world works both intuitively and mathematically.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10871 replies136 threads Senior Member
    Physics C E&M only requires Calc AB.

    It's not until engineers get further into physics courses that they need MVC and diff eq.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 2576 replies37 threads Senior Member
    edited September 15
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    1NJParent wrote: »
    You don't need MVC to understand E&M, although math helps. Physics is about understanding how the world works. It's much better to understand why something work the way it does physically and intuitively, than based on some mathematical formula.

    Then why does physics for physics majors use more math than physics for biology majors or non-majors? Physics majors are expected to understand how the world works both intuitively and mathematically.

    Yes, they're. Believe it or not, the mathematical part is relatively easy. A physics student is better off understanding the physics in physics than relying on the mathematical formulation of it. For example, most of the (classical) E&M is contained in a set of Maxwell equations (the reason for MVC), but a true understanding of it is far beyond those equations.
    edited September 15
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41675 replies8008 threads Super Moderator
    edited September 15
    As fascinating as the conversation about college physics and its math prerequisites is, it's OT and not what the OP asked. Let's focus on the original question
    edited September 15
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  • buzzboy12buzzboy12 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Take whatever he feels comfortable with. I didn't take either in high school, only AP Physics 1 my senior year, and wound up at Georgia Tech whilst applying as a Physics major. I don't think it's that big a deal.
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  • juniormom2juniormom2 3 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you for all your comments. My concern is that colleges will see that Physics C was offered as a 2 semester course but the student took only one meaning he did not fully utilize the opportunity that he was provided with. They may look down upon his application, especially since this is the last year the school is offering this course. They will stop offering it next year.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10871 replies136 threads Senior Member
    If your child is an engineering hopefully I’d recommend taking both. My D found them incredibly helpful in college. She didn’t get credit for E&M because she was in honors which did a weird thing with physics but it helped her a lot when she took electricity and optics.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41675 replies8008 threads Super Moderator
    juniormom2 wrote: »
    Thank you for all your comments. My concern is that colleges will see that Physics C was offered as a 2 semester course but the student took only one meaning he did not fully utilize the opportunity that he was provided with. They may look down upon his application, especially since this is the last year the school is offering this course. They will stop offering it next year.

    Colleges will likely not know that the HS stopped offering a course. Or care.

    Here is the reality. While your son will spend countless hours on his application, AOs will spend 10-15 minutes reading it. They will not have the time or the inclination to review the transcript course by course. And they certainly will not xref against the course catalog.

    Whether he should forgo the course is a different question and depends on his future plans and what he proposes to take instead.

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