Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

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zeroangel
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Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby zeroangel » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:14 pm

Hello all.

I was just hoping I could get some advice here ref. pursuing a higher education in Physics.

I am 32 yrs old and have an undergraduate degree in Math. I have been out of college for 10 years now and my current carreer is in IT.

As such, I am out of practice and not prepared for the GRE.

I want to prepare myself on my own, can you all offer any advice on what materials and/or text I might consider?

Thank you.

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fermiboy
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby fermiboy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:27 pm

The best thing you can do is find an old freshman physics text (I would suggest Halliday and Resnick) and then start reading and working problems till you're blue in the face. Work the ones with answers so you can check that you are doing them right. That's the first step, once you've done that, it might be time to look at practice GREs, but not until you have the other material down cold.

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dlenmn
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby dlenmn » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:47 pm

It's not just knowing the material that's important, but also knowing how to take the test. Order of magnitude estimates, dimensional analysis, and the likes will probably be useful. I just studied the material, then took a "brute force" approach to solving the problems (unfortunately, I never developed the habit of using those techniques). It didn't work out as well as I'd have liked.
Last edited by dlenmn on Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

marten
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby marten » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:48 pm

Hello,

The good news about the PGRE, is that it is possible to well on it just by studying the right things. A good score is probably more of a reflection on how much someone studied for the test, then really how much physics they know or how well they'll do in grad school. The fact that you have a math degree should help, but being out of school for 10 years means that everything is probably pretty rusty. I think math is definitely a skill that must be practiced, but I'm sure you know that. Also, not having a physics undergrad degree is going to be a distinct disadvantage, you'll have some catching up to do. But for a determined and intelligent person, I think it is entirely possible.

When do you plan on taking the test?

If you only buy one text, I would recommend Halliday, Resnick, and Walker (isbn=978-0471216438) Fundamentals of Physics. You'll find more recommendations for this text in this site also. Of course, the most valuable resource is the 4 practice PGRE tests, available in various places, more info elsewhere in this site. Another option is the REA "Purple Text" which I studied from. Good for some more practice problems, but hardly representative of what you'll find on the real PGRE. I interspersed my practice tests with my studying, using the problems that I missed or didn't know to direct my studying. I always took them under test like conditions (timed, etc...) to help get a feel for pace and encourage me to improve my speed. A good source for reviewing the answers to the practice tests is: GREPhysics. Do lots and lots of practice problems, make flash cards, and go over the answers until you actually understand the material, it'll help.

Good luck,
Marten

marten
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby marten » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:51 pm

dlenmn wrote:It's not just knowing the material that's important, but also knowing how to take the test. Order of magnitude estimates, dimensional analysis, and the likes will probably be useful. I just studied the material, then took a "brute force" approach to solving the problems (unfortunately, I never developed the habit of using those techniques). It didn't work out as well as I'd have liked.


Ditto dlenmn's comments. With a timed test of 100 questions, speed and quickness is very important. Because it is multiple choice, those above techniques work well at eliminating wrong answers. Then don't be afraid to guess. This is why taking the practice test under test like conditions will help you get a sense for pace.

Marten

zeroangel
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby zeroangel » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:19 pm

Thank you all for the prompt responses.

Is this book:

http://product.half.ebay.com/_W0QQprZ30 ... Zvidetails

what you are all refering to?

Do I need any additional material like a wookbook for instance or is this one text enough?

I have not set a solid date for taking the GRE yet but it will probably be about 2 yrs from now. Once my wife finishes school and gets her CPA is when I will have the freedom to return to school full-time. Until then, we rely solely on myself to pay the rent ;).

Anyhow, please let me know if that is the corrrect book and if I need anything else. Thank you.

vicente
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby vicente » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:51 pm

Yes that book. There's also a two-volume set by Halliday/Resnick/Krane (notice the different third author) that also covers freshman and some sophomore physics, which is basically what is covered in the GRE.

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fermiboy
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby fermiboy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:03 pm

dlenmn wrote:It's not just knowing the material that's important, but also knowing how to take the test. Order of magnitude estimates, dimensional analysis, and the likes will probably be useful. I just studied the material, then took a "brute force" approach to solving the problems (unfortunately, I never developed the habit of using those techniques). It didn't work out as well as I'd have liked.


This is good advice, I'm just advocating that the basic physics should be mastered first; then move into the "advanced techniques" discussed above. Dimensional analysis and such will not help if you can't solve basic kinematic problems, basic E&M, etc.

zeroangel
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby zeroangel » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:37 pm

vicente wrote:Yes that book. There's also a two-volume set by Halliday/Resnick/Krane (notice the different third author) that also covers freshman and some sophomore physics, which is basically what is covered in the GRE.


I noticed:

http://product.half.ebay.com/_W0QQtgZinfoQQprZ30261877

the title is listed as Fundamentals of Physics: Chapters 21-44, is this just a mistake on the part of the webpage? It is the complete book and all chapters at 1100+ pages correct? Sorry to be a pain, just want to make sure.

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dlenmn
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby dlenmn » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:08 pm

Halliday and Resnick has been around for ages -- my Dad has a copy from when he took freshman physics in the 60s. There have been a bazillion editions since then (some were titled slightly differently), so you can find an older edition on the cheap -- the physics hasn't changed. (And yes, it can come in multiple volumes).

EDIT: There are actually two different Halliday and Resnick books: Fundamentals of Physics (David Halliday, Jearl Walker, Robert Resnick) and Physics (David Halliday, Kenneth S. Krane, Robert Resnick). The former is the more dumbed down version, right? Which one is better for studying?

marten
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby marten » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:01 am

Do I need any additional material like a wookbook for instance or is this one text enough?


You might consider getting the student solutions manual, I actually bought that first when I thought I was getting a good deal on the full text. I'd agree with twistor that it is probably a good idea to spend some time studying undergraduate physics before even trying the practice PGRE tests.

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twistor
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby twistor » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:23 pm

I'd agree with twistor that it is probably a good idea to spend some time studying undergraduate physics before even trying the practice PGRE tests.


Huh? This is my first post on this thread. Have you been reading my thoughts?

marten
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby marten » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:29 pm

Huh? This is my first post on this thread. Have you been reading my thoughts?


Yeah, and they aren't pretty...

Just kidding, I meant I agree with fermiboy, got you two mixed up somehow.

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fermiboy
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby fermiboy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:59 pm

Man, don't insult me like that. Just kidding twistor... :P

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twistor
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Re: Advice for 30 something man aspiring to a higher education

Postby twistor » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:10 am

:shock:




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