Things to do before physics degree

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Thisguy11
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#1
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#1
So this September, im going to Physics at Durham (if I meet my offer XD)
And would like some help on what prep I should do.
Im thinking of reading over M3, revising S1 (I did my S1 module during GCSE), I am also going to learn vector calculus and the physics topics in A-level not covered by my exam board.
Any other ideas of what I could do, and any sources of think outside the box physics questions?

Thanks in advance.
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atsruser
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(Original post by Thisguy11)
So this September, im going to Physics at Durham (if I meet my offer XD)
And would like some help on what prep I should do.
Im thinking of reading over M3, revising S1 (I did my S1 module during GCSE), I am also going to learn vector calculus and the physics topics in A-level not covered by my exam board.
Any other ideas of what I could do, and any sources of think outside the box physics questions?

Thanks in advance.
1. Buy a copy of Schaum's "3000 Solved Problems in Calculus"; this has a vast number of worked problems in just about every area of calculus that you will need.

2. Learn how to do integrals by choosing an appropriate substitution yourself. Practise them until you can integrate in your sleep.

3. Read as much of vols 1 and 2 of the Feynman Lectures on Physics as you can; the start of vol 2 (Electromagnetism) has an exquisite introduction to vector calculus. Note that these are now online so you don't have to buy the books if you want to conserve cash. (http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/)

4. Buy a used copy of Advanced Level Physics by Nelkon and Parker. This is an old and excellent A level text, which covers much material that now appears in years 1 (and 2) of a physics degree. In particular, use this book to see how calculus is applied to physics and learn how to set up an integral to solve a physical problem.

5. Buy a copy of Schaum's "3000 Solved Problems in Physics" and start working on (or at least looking at) the problems. This book is a goldmine. You will only become good at physics by solving problems. Anyone can waffle convincingly about principles.

6. Start to learn about linear algebra - vectors, matrices, eigenvalues/vectors etc. You will be using this stuff throughout your degree so the more you know the better.
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mik1a
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#3
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Different people learn differently but I wouldn't push too hard with self-learning in advance. You're paying for tuition so let them have a go at teaching you before taking it into your own hands. I think your rewards will be greater per unit of hard work if you wait until lectures before doing exercises.

If you get restless, I agree with the above. Practice integration and differentiation until you can do it in your sleep, the same with mechanics. Buy 'Practical Physics' by Squires and read it, it will make you a better physicist and contains information you may not be taught from the outset.
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