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Taking Physics HL with no prior knowledge of physics

Should I take Physics HL?  

19 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you guys think?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Take SL
    • I dun curr
      0
    • Take the A-levels instead for Physics
      0


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Hello guys! I'm new here to IBS and honestly, I made this account mainly for making this thread but I'll make sure to stick by later.

I'm going to start IB next year in January and I already chose my subjects.

 

I have a question. Is it possible for me to take physics at HL level with basically no prior knowledge of physics? (I did it 2 years ago but heh I forgot everything) :panic:

 

I really want to work in the astrophysics field, which obviously requires physics. But universities requirements are really harsh (whyyyy) and demand Physics or Maths as HL.

 

My school recommends people who haven't done the subject over the last two years to take it as SL but I honestly think it's a waste if I want to work with physics later. I could take Physics separately and do the A levels but I find it to be too much work.

 

 

I just realised I wasted two years doing Chemistry for my IGCSE's when I could have taken Physics instead. Is it too late to catch up? :confused:

Help me   :please: oh great people of IBS

 

I still have a plan B but I want to know what you guys think first

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I'm actually not sure how to vote, because I have mixed opinions about this. There are a lot of things you have to consider.

 

Firstly, have you looked at the 2016 Physics HL syllabus? Does it line up with what you did previously? If so, how much of it do you think you can remember from previous years? Do you think it'll be easy to recall it after looking through it? How confident were you with physics two years ago? If not, have you had a chance to look over any textbooks, new or old? What do you think about it now?

 

The thing is, it really depends on your strengths and weaknesses. If Physics was previously a strength for you, technically, it still should be. When you learn things, you'll always be able to remember a bit of what you learned. Not necessarily 100% of it, but maybe 50%, and sometimes that can make a big difference in your confidence in the subject. Of course, it also depends on the difficult of the IB course in comparison to what you did previously. Is it really difficult in comparison? Do you think you'll be able to cope?

 

Personally, I think that if you have some previous physics notes, feel you can cope with the syllabus and have done at least some of it previously, you should be fine. If you aren't particularly confident, and don't think you can manage, start at SL and, if you feel you can cope later, see if you can get bumped up to HL. I'd say, look through the syllabus if you haven't already, and see how confident you are. It should be a good indicator.

 

That's my opinion on it. Hope it works out for you!

Edited by thesibyllinebooks

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Ask the teacher who teaches IB physics whether you'll be able to cope and do well (tell them what grades you previously got in physics, it will make a difference) - he/she is probably the only person who can give you an accurate answer. 

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Ill be honest I was fantastic at igcse physics but I am getting semi-rekt at ib hl physics. Its hard, you need to juggle around a bunch of different formulae for each question.  When I complain about the formulae, I'm not saying the maths is hard - the maths itself is basically igcse e-maths. But you often have to apply 2-3 formulae in the correct order to get a question right, and its tough. 

 

If you like physics then yeh I suppose so but you dont want to screw up your diploma.

 

gl

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Most universities (at least in the US) seems like they prefer Math HL/Physics SL rather than Math SL/Physics HL. Both at HL is probably the best way to go if you are motivated.

 

When I started at my school we had to take "placement tests" in order to see if they would approve us in HL sciences/math. I wanted to do physics and chemistry at HL - or at least one of them - so I took the test in both. I had never had physics before. Had very little in a subject that "mixed" all sciences (at least 5-6 diciplines, including things like geology) with a few classes every week for a few years but this didn't help. My test scores were too low, but the physics one was the closest.

 

So I took an "L" and just went with Physics SL at the start. After a few weeks of catching the concepts noticably quick, doing well on the quizess we got, I just talked to my teacher about changing to HL. He was very supportive and sent an email to someone in the school administration who take care of subject changes. Boom, then I was in HL. I enjoyed the fact people in my HL class were not only much smarter, but also much more enthusiastic about the subject. Im in my senior year now, so I can see that the SL and HL classes start to digress more. HL is a bit harder, but shouldn't be any major problem if you are doing well in the other subjects and have some extra time to put into physics - that's at least what I do. 

 

As for you. You haven't even started the school year. "Is it too late to catch up"? The IB Physics curriculum starts with things like uncertainty and significant digits. Really easy stuff. It doesn't require any previous knowledge. In my class now we are doing nuclear physics. Most of my peers know half of the stuff from before, but I don't. Took me 2-3 hours of reading to catch up. No big problem. If you see yourself as motivated with decent study habits, ready to "nail" the IB diploma, then just go for it. 

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There's always the possibility of starting with 4HL's and dropping on as you see fit, so you at least can see what both are like.

Both subjects are very useful at HL though, for different reasons. HL maths not only covers a few more topics, but you are introduced to a lot harder problems and you do develop your problem solving skills and mathematical intuition. There is a lot of maths that is used in physics, especially for astrophysics since you're dealing with planetary motions and the like. HL Physics on the other hand gives more of a qualitative understanding of the more advanced topics, which can be useful to get a feel for the topics before you are given a full mathematical treatment of the topics at university (or at least I'd presume that's was happens, I'm not taking physics at uni so this should be taken with a grain of salt). All in all I would recommend both if you can, though if it's not possible then I'd drop the one you're struggling with more.

As for difficulty, I'd say it will certainly be harder without much background, with the amount of stuff that's needed to be covered you'll likely find the pace very fast. There are a huge amount of resources available though, so if you do put in the time and effort I'd say it's definitely possible to do it. I personally struggled quite a bit with Physics and there were a lot of times I didn't understand what was going on in the lessons, but after consulting a textbook or two, writing out notes and doing some questions, I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of everything by the end of the two years. If you enjoy Physics and find the topics interesting, it shouldn't be too much of a drag either.

I don't think taking A-level Physics would be any easier though, I've heard they are pretty similar difficulty-wise.

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The course is designed so that you need not have taken any prior physics classes. I did HL physics with out having done a physics class before and managed to get a 7. If you are somewhat reasonable with maths and science you will be fine. However it is important that you are interested in the subject otherwise HL physics will be a big drag so maybe have a read of some introductory physics textbooks or just books in general to see if the subject actually interests you

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