PHY 2048

First Day Preparation

You can use the "reload" button to "refresh" your cached copy to be sure you are seeing the current version of these pages.

Last Updated: 21 August 2012

I am often asked what students should do to prepare for this class.

Short answer:
Learn everything that was covered in your previous math and science classes well enough so that you don't have to specially "prepare" for any class.

My courses (like all true college-level courses) hit the ground running on the first day based on the assumption that you remember what you learned in the courses required before you can take mine. Thus, the most important preparation for this class is to convince yourself that your job in college is to come to class prepared every day and learn everything well enough that you do not have to study for the "final" exam. There will never be a final exam on a subject you use every day. You should already be prepared for this class if you still remember all of the skills taught in your previous math, science, and english classes, including how to analyze problems in the CHM1045 class most of you are required to take. (My advice on taking PHY2048 gives a short summary of the preparation expected of students taking this class.) If not, you will need to review your skills from every prerequisite course, particularly those related to solving word problems applying algebra, trig, and/or geometry, and develop better learning habits so you do not have to waste time re-learning something you studied before. This will help you a lot this year, and even more when you take classes next year where the instructor will assume you still remember what you learned in physics, calculus, chemistry, trig, and english at TCC.

Long answer:

  1. Be sure you are in the correct physics class.
    You should not be in PHY2048 unless you are majoring in engineering, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, mathematics, computer science, or one of a small number of other majors (science education, geology) that specifically require this course. If you have a different major in mind, check the requirements for that major at the school you plan to transfer to. Do this today. (If they accept PHY1053 as well as PHY2048, they are telling you that you should not take PHY2048. If you really want to take PHY2048 anyway, say because it is required by the graduate school you want to attend, you should wait until you have passed both MAC2311 and MAC2312 unless you got an A in trig and pre-calc.) My advising notes on physics describe the differences between PHY2048 and PHY1053. Three programs that only require PHY1053 are "Construction Engineering Technology", Architecture, and Pharmacy at FAMU. I give some additional details on a preview page for PHY2048 that I leave open between semesters.

  2. Read my comments on the calculus requirements for my physics courses. They are minimal, but that does not mean you will not need good math skills to do well in physics. You will need to be fluent in algebra and trig to do well in this class and (for most of you) in the career you are hoping to have. You will also need to be able to translate word problems into math problems.

  3. Read Chapter 1 of Wolfson, which is mostly review of things you should already know about units and arithmetic but also includes a very important introduction to problem solving. You can also read section 3.1 in Chapter 3 on vectors, which many trig classes do not cover very well. We will spend only one day reviewing that (very important) topic in class. (You can also review vectors in Chapter 12 or 13 of your calculus book.) Finally, but perhaps most importantly, review the material in Chapter 1 of your calculus book on the concept of a function such as x(t) that specifies a unique value in the range (x) for every value in the domain (t). A clear conceptual understanding of this is very helpful when learning about motion in the first week of class (Chapter 2 of Wolfson).

  4. If you will be taking MAC2312, prepare by studying calculus and trig as if you were going to take the MAC2311 and MAC2114 final exam on the first day of class. Some of you will not succeed in Calc II unless you know more calculus and trig than you did when you took the final in Calc I, so put particular emphasis on any topic you think you might have missed on the final exam. Calc II is (most students agree) harder than Calc I and it picks up where Calc I left off, taking up the important topic of using the integral to solve application problems. Partly for this reason, you should consider dropping physics if you earned a "C" in either MAC2311, trig, or precalc, particularly if you did not take a math class last semester and don't remember anything about trig identities and partial fraction decomposition.

  5. If you will be taking MAC2311, my advice has been that you should drop PHY2048 if you earned a "C" in either pre-calc or trig. There are details giving my reasons for this recommendation in the section on math requirements that is also discussed on the physics advising page, but more recent data do not show a correlation as strong as I first noted in 2004. This could be because there have been changes in how some faculty teach trig, or it could be that weaker students have taken that advice and changed majors after failing calculus.

  6. Read my comments on the calculators you are allowed to use. I will not allow use of the TI-83 on exams in PHY2048, although you can still use it in the laboratory. Buy one of the basic scientific calculators and use it exclusively for your physics homework.

  7. Read my Study Suggestions and review the additional comments on program planning and your workload this semester that are at the end of this page.

  8. Do not apply to graduate at the end of the fall semester unless you have carried out the planning exercise I recommend and know what it takes to finish your engineering degree. As one simple example, any engineering major who has not completed CHM1045 and MAC2311 should consider taking CHM1045 now along with MAC2311 and then take physics next while finishing up the required math classes (MAC2312, MAC2313, MAP2302) and the drafting or computer classes required by your major. You will then have only about 70 hours of classes to take after you transfer. More importantly, the latest policies in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering put you at risk if you are not taking engineering classes during your first semester as a Junior.

  9. Read your TCC e-mail. I send e-mail to everyone registered for PHY2048 a few weeks before the semester starts to bring important matters to their attention.


Future engineering majors must realize that they rarely get more than one attempt at the engineering, math, and science classes required for that major (classes such as CHM1045, MAC2311, MAC2312, and PHY2048) and that any failing grades in those core classes are a big deal at FAMU and FSU. Don't waste your first attempt if you are not ready to work 2 hours every day (10-15 hours per week) learning physics.

Please read my advising notes on physics and the comments below.

My advising notes will help you decide if you are enrolled in the correct physics course and if you are taking it at the right time.

If you got a "C" in either trig or precalc, you should reconsider taking MAC2311 at the same time as PHY2048. In the past, the chance of passing, even if you are repeating MAC2311, were poor. This opinion is based on data that looked pretty clear and unambiguous to me in 2004, although the differences have been less significant in the last few years.

If you do not have a work schedule that includes 20+ hours set aside throughout the week to study for just physics and calculus, you should not take both calculus and PHY2048 at the same time. Those of you who have passed Calc I have a better idea how much work is ahead, but you need to realize that Calc II is harder than either Calc I or physics. Taking PHY2048 and Calc II together probably requires about 3 times the study time you needed for Calc I.

Also think about your program of study for the rest of your career at TCC. Be sure you are prepared to meet all of the requirements to start your major as a junior when planning when you should (or should not) graduate. I will go over these points on the first day of class.

 ?? Contact me if you have any questions.


My TCC home page.