• Question: CAN PEOPLE BE GOOD AT PHYSICS IF THEY ARE NOT GOOD AT MATHS ALTHOUGH PHYSICS INCLUDES A LOT OF MATHS

    Asked by 169artc22 to Andrew, Lizzie, Nick, Sonia, Chuen on 16 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Elizabeth Kapasa

      Elizabeth Kapasa answered on 16 Jun 2015:


      Hmm that’s an interesting question. Well personally I think I’m better at physics than maths. But you do need to do maths in engineering. I think it’s easier to get better at maths than to get better at physics.

    • Photo: Nicholas Hitchins

      Nicholas Hitchins answered on 16 Jun 2015:


      I think that generally getting the key concepts of physics are more important than just being able to do the mathematics. There are a lot of people who are very good at mathematics and yet might not necessarily be good engineers. While a good backing in both maths and physics is generally required, I would focus more on the ability to understand the ideas. I’m involved in interviewing new graduate engineers and out of all the questions we ask them and the tasks we set them, we are most interested in how they think about the problem and the decisions they are making rather than their ability to get all the maths correct. That doesn’t mean that you can give up on maths though! Maths is still very important, but engineers do recognise that maths is a tool to be used aid engineering and not the be all to end all.

    • Photo: Yu Chuen Tam

      Yu Chuen Tam answered on 16 Jun 2015:


      Generally its not mutually exclusive, the ability to do maths would help you to grasps the concepts of physics rather than struggle with transposing formulae, this a particular criticism in A Level examiners reports in most years.

      However one of my class mates at university did not have maths at A level but he went on to get a first class honours degree in physics. In my day 1st class honours were given out very sparingly, some years there were none, and the average classification was a 2.ii, the very best students got a 2.i and only the best of the best got a 1st.

    • Photo: Andrew Phillips

      Andrew Phillips answered on 19 Jun 2015:


      I think you can be. I see physics as the application of maths, so it might be easier to understand what is going on as you can apply it to real systems. Mechanics could be considered as maths or physics.

      In my work I make sure I know enough maths to do the things I want to do, so if physics is something you want to do, I think the motivation means the maths will seem easier, whether it is or isn’t.

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