O.K. so I’m one of those crazy people trying to get my Physics requirement knocked out over the summer. One problem… it’s super hard!!! Has anyone else noticed this? Turns out I would much rather be in Chemistry or Bio or just about anything else! I’m trying to get into it and think of applying the concepts to everyday life, even draw spiritual paralels. The thing is, we’re doing about 3 chapters a week so maybe that’s the problem. We had our first test and I think I got a C or maybe even worse! I’m working like 25+ hours a week on homework. Is Physics usually the hardest of the prereqs? Should I consider ending up with a C in the course knowing it will probably be my worse, or am I better off to drop and try again? My only concern with that is, I don’t think it will be any better to take it while also trying to do something like O Chem in the fall. I already plan to re-learn/study the Physics stuff again for the MCAT in another year or so. What other classes do you guys suggest taking or not taking while doing the O Chem business and how do I know when it’s better to drop versus sticking it out? All my other science classes have been A’s so far - am I just expecting too much? Help!!!

I found physics to be a very tough slog and it took me awhile to “think in physics.” You know how when you are learning a language, they tell you that you know you’ve arrived when you start dreaming in that language? Well, I found physics to be the most foreign of foreign languages initially. Certainly any dreams I had about physics were nightmares.

I think that I would’ve gotten a C or worse if I’d had to do physics on a summer schedule. I just kept plodding along hoping that eventually it would click and it did – and I ended up with As both semesters. But I got lower than the class average on my first test (an OPEN BOOK test, mind you) and was so completely demoralized. Had it been summer, where I would’ve had to instantly get back to studying and trying to force it into my brain, I’m sure I would’ve been despondent.

Quite honestly I suggest you drop it. You don’t say what else you’ll be doing when you take o-chem in the fall - work? family obligations? I took physics, o-chem and microbiology all at the same time (no job) and that was actually quite do-able. (it would’ve been insanity with a job) Physics lab write-ups alone took me hours and hours, as did o-chem, but honestly doing them both at the same time wasn’t bad.

YMMV. I just remember how damn long it took me to “get it.” I was fine once it clicked but I don’t know if I could’ve forced that to happen earlier.


I think it really depends on the student cweaver. I thought organic chemistry was the most difficult course of all the pre-reqs. If you can drop the course without getting a W on your transcript, maybe should drop it. Maybe there is an upper level bio course you can take in place or maybe look into do some shadowing for the rest of the summer.

Thanks guys! At this point I would have to take the ‘W’ if I withdraw which I’ve heard is not a good thing, although I’m not sure how bad that would be versus possibly getting a C. I get the results from the first test on Monday morning so I just went ahead and studied all weekend in case I decide to stay. Right now I’m very blessed because my husband supports me and most of the household expenses so whether it’s now or this fall with the o chem, I only have to work about 8-10 hours a week while taking classes and I’m closing/reinventing the parts of my wellness center business that put too much stress on me while I’m going to school. I will continue to see private clients and work at the hospital one morning a week in the fall. I do have a multi-generation family, but they’re all pretty independent. Yes, I am dreaming physics equations at night but maybe that’s a good thing. I’m hoping that if I stick with it it will become a little more like gen.chem. Anyhow, if anyone knows how bad a ‘W’ really is on transcript please let me know before I do anything crazy!

Here’s the conventional wisdom: a W is better than a C. A W is also preferable to a failing grade. If you think you are headed for anything under a B, consider dropping. Then take Physics again when you are prepared to do well.

Chances are, no one’s going to ask you what happened in that summer class. Students drop classes all the time. What’s important is how well you recover and do better next time.

Best of luck,

Check and see if your school has free tutoring in a student center or something like that. Go to your professor or TA’s office hours. A lot of times you don’t understand things because of a small misconception and a little help can go a long way. If you could get into a study group that would probably help too. If you want to get a tutor, consider going to the physics department and find out if there are any grad students or other students that might tutor you. You’d probably have to pay them though. You can do physics, you just need some extra help. Get it and you will be successful and have better self confidence.


I just remembered that there are websites out there for high school kids to get help with their homework. Pretend you’re a high school student and get help that way! Most of what college physics teaches you is the same as what a high school honors physics class does. One last idea, go to your neighborhood high school and ask to borrow a conceptual physics book. You also may be able to get an old one online for cheap. Conceptual physics teaches the ideas and expectations associated with physics concepts without much math. You will need to do the math for your college class, but learning the concepts behind the math might be of great help.


Also - you can look on for the Cartoon Guide to Physics. I believe it’s written by a UCLA Physics Professor (Art Huffman???). There are great pictures and concepts are broken down and explained thoroughly. It’s designed to help you conceptualize calculus-based physics. Hope that helps!


»MIT’s OpenCourseWare« program was crucial in helping me score well in physics.

Several courses are available in video format. As much as time allowed, I actually viewed MIT courses online prior to attending those courses here at the local university.

I particularly recommend thoses MIT courses with Professor Lewin. He is passionate about physics, thourough in his approach, and very entertaining.

Be forwarned, these courses are developped in an ‘MIT context’, and the use of Calculus abounds!

Good luck!