FAQs: Introductory Courses

If you have any feedback on these questions/answers, or if you would like a new question added to this list, please contact David Morin.


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    GENERAL QUESTIONS RELATED TO PHYSICS COURSES:

  1. In deciding between two (or more) courses with different levels of difficulty, how can I be sure that I sign up for the right one?
  2. I want to take three science courses (among Math, Physics, Chem, Bio, EngSci, CompSci, Astro, etc.) in my first semester. Is this advisable?
  3. What are the physics requirements for my concentration?
  4. I took a college physics course somewhere other than at Harvard. Does it count for my concentration?
  5. I did very well in my high school physics course, but it was a number of years ago so I’m a bit rusty. Which course should I take?
  6. Which multivariable math course will help me more in my physics courses, Math 21 or something higher?
  7. I am planning on taking math at the 21 level. Should I take the Math or Applied Math version?

    SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS COURSES (PHYSICAL SCIENCES 2/3 and 12A/B, PHYSICS 15A/B/C, 16):

  8. Which of PS2, PS12a, 15a, or 16 should I take?
  9. Which physics courses satisfy the premed requirements?
  10. When do students take normally PS2/3, PS12a/b, 15a/b/c, and 16?
  11. Can I switch from one of the PS2/3, PS12, 15, and 16 courses to another after a few weeks if the difficulty isn’t right?
  12. What benefits do I get from having taken an AP physics course in high school?
  13. I reached a very high level of math in high school (and did very well in it), but I had only a weak physics course (or none at all). If I am interested in physics now, which physics course should I take?
  14. What level of math is needed for PS2/3 and 12a/b?
  15. What level of math is needed for 15a and 16?
  16. What level of math is needed for 15b?
  17. Can I take PS12b after taking Phys 15a?
  18. PS12a and Phys 15a seem to cover many of the same topics as a high school AP mechanics class. Does that mean I’ll be bored in them?
  19. Is it ok to postpone Phys 15a to freshman spring or later?
  20. Do I need a certain Harvard physics placement-test score or a certain AP score to get into Physics 16?
  21. Should I take Phys 15a or Phys 16?
  22. Is the workload for the Math 55/Phys 16 and the Math 25/Phys 16 combinations manageable?
  23. Can I take Phys 15b before (or concurrently with) Phys 15a? And likewise for Phys 15c/15b, and for 143a/15c?

We hope that you find these FAQs helpful. But if you would like some more personal advice, don't hesitate to email us or stop by our office hours:

(Head Tutor) Howard Georgi: email, office hours
(Assistant Head Tutor) David Morin: email, office hours


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