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Chemistry vs Physics

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Guest wanderluster

I'm having trouble deciding between HL Chemistry and HL Physics. I would imagine that I would find physics more interesting, but I'm not the best math student.

To be honest, I don't even totally understand the difference between the two.

Which one would require more critical thinking? (I'd like to major in philosophy, if that matters).

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Okay, since you don't seem to be the mathsy type person then I reckon you should go with Chem HL as it definitely involves less maths than Physics does. However since your exams are ages away you might want to lay off this decision right now... you might see that in the next few years you improve maths and have done some chem and physics to tell which you prefer.

Even so, while physics is really interesting and involves logical thinking about concepts that are for some hard to understand as they might not follow your common sense, and if you want to major in philosophy, you'll probs have to look at such concepts so that would be good.

However, chem has a lot less math involvement, even in HL I think and you'll have to critically think in all sciences.

That was really badly written, sorry about that, but I think that maybe chem HL is better but that you should give it some more time (especially till you have experienced doing some chem and have a preference)

The main difference between chem and physics is that chem looks more at the electrons in atoms and their role in chemicals, their structure etc etc while physics looks mainly at the atom's nucleus and its role is a lot of areas. They overlap in some areas as well.

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If you'd like to study phlosophy, science HL choice won't be crucial. But from my experience:

1. Math in physics is not that complex, and understanding the concepts is more difficult. There are many abstract topics, which makes it sometimes hard to imagine ->understand->do well in tests. But doing past papers solves most problems with questions.

2. Many people find chem simpler and easier.

3. Physics HL makes no sense without math HL, in terms of unis. You need to be fluent in higher math to be a good engineering/physics student. No other courses require/praise phys HL.

4. Chem HL makes no sense without math HL or bio HL. The courses that require/praise chem HL are a)chemistry-related engineering b)medicine-realted courses.

I'm sorry.

5. Physics involves more thinking, especially critical, and therefore it is more difficult.

6. Physics is interesting, if you like science, of course.

The difference is that chem deals with chemical compound and their properties, how atoms work, and phys is more broad. It includes: kinematics, dynamics, electricity, force fields, termal physics, and also atomic physics and some more complicated topics such as medical physics, particles, communications,...

On your place I'd choose physics SL and HL math/philosophy/economics/geography/...

Physics SL has pretty the same material as HL, but HL has also additional 'options'.

Btw, econ requires a lot of critical thinking in a more social aspect, requires really simple math and is fun (I have HL :D). I've heard that geo is quite fine too. And my friend is very disappointed with philosophy course, beacause it praises schematic thinking and is really boring (she's likes philosophy itself very much), so I won't advise you taking it. Math HL - it depends on your math talents if it is easy or difficult, but it opens gates to many uni courses and is respected by unis, even when you want to study sth social. It gives you a great logical thinking background as well as math skills.

But you have like much time to your exams, and youll have time to change your choices, I suppose. Doesn't your school pursue you to make choices too early? Two yaers ago, I had no idea about what I want to study too. I don't know for sure still, even though I will have to send a personal statement next year.

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Physics is way more interesting. I spent two weeks in HL chem before deciding to do HL physics and did not regret it. You don't need HL maths to do either of them; SL is fine. I would be lying if I said HL physics was easy but a) heaps of kids that do HL chem find that difficult too and b) I enjoyed physics so I didn't mind putting in the work. Also, to get a 7 in physics you only need about 65-70% so I found I could make heaps of mistakes on past papers and still scrape into the 7 band. And, I found physics IAs to be easier than chem IAs.

Also, before making your decision, take into account who the teachers are because that can make a huge difference. And, as you like philosophy, in physics you get to study the 'big' questions about the universe and life.

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