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What Math Skills are Necessary For Success in Conceptual Physics?

As a physics professor, I’ve discovered that there is one thing more than any other that prevents students from finding success in my conceptual physics course, proficiency in algebra. My conceptual physics course include a significant amount of problem solving and students who start the course without sufficient mastery of algebra are like students starting a English literature course without being able to read. If you are unsure of how prepared you are for conceptual physics, take the short algebra quiz below. If you score less than 4/5, you may want to think about taking a course in algebra to polish your skills before plunging into physics. The answers can be revealed by highlighting the white space below the last problem

Solve for x.

2x+5x=84

7(x+2)=6x

5 = 35/x

12 = 10/x2

9x/2 = 1/x

12, -14, 7, 0.913, 0.471

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