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PHYS 114 studio in Phillips Hall 335

Physics 114/115 and Physics 118/119

The Physics & Astronomy Department offers two 2-semester introductory physics sequences: (1) PHYS 114/115 General Physics I and II: for Students of the Life Sciences, and (2) PHYS 118/119 Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity, and Electromagnetism and Quanta. The PHYS 114/115 sequence is intended to meet the needs of, but not restricted to, students majoring in the life sciences, while the PHYS 118/119 sequence is intended but not restricted to students majoring in physical sciences and engineering. Respectively, these sequences are to replace the introductory physics sequences of PHYS 104/105 and PHYS 116/117 that are no longer offered, beginning in Spring 2015. The brief content of these courses are listed in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

These courses are taught in an integrated lecture/studio mode. Students will attend two 50-minute lectures per week and two 110-minute studio sessions per week. In the studio sessions students will engage in active learning, working in small groups on lab experiments, cooperative group problem solving, interactive computer simulations of physical phenomena, and scientific modeling. The design of the courses is based on physics education research that demonstrates the most effective techniques for teaching and learning physics.

The important things to know about the PHYS 114/115 sequence are:

  • PHYS 114/115 fulfill all the same requirements (for various majors and as prerequisites to other courses) that PHYS 104/105 fulfill. Students who have already taken PHYS 104 and 105 have already fulfilled those requirements and do not need to take additional 100-level physics courses.
  • PHYS 114 has MATH 130 as a prerequisite (and MATH 231 is highly recommended). PHYS 115 has PHYS 114 as a prerequisite (no additional math courses).
  • Students who have been granted credit by Examination for PHYS 104/105 for AP or IB scores will retain that credit.
  • PHYS 114/115 are offered each year in the Fall and Spring semesters and in Summer Session.

The important things to know about the PHYS 118/119 sequence are:

  • PHYS 118/119 fulfill all the same requirements (for various majors and as prerequisites to other courses) that PHYS 116/117 fulfill. Students who have already taken PHYS 116/117 have already fulfilled those requirements and do not need to take additional 100-level physics courses.
  • PHYS 118/119 fulfill the introductory physics requirements for all physics majors and minors.
  • PHYS 118 has MATH 231 as a prerequisite and MATH 232 as a corequisite. PHYS 119 has MATH 232 and PHYS 118 as prerequisites, and MATH 233 as a corequisite.
  • PHYS 118/119 are offered each year in the Fall and Spring semesters and in Summer Session.

 

Placement Exams

Based on departmental placement exam scores, the Department of Physics and Astronomy can approve 118 or 119 credit by exam, to be awarded by the Registrar. The Registrar also awards credit for PHYS 104 and 105 based on AP exam scores.

PHYS 104/105
  • UNC no longer offers placement exams for 104 and 105. AP exams are administered by the College Board every May. For more information, please refer to the UNC Physics Dept page on AP credit and the AP Calendar on the College Board web page, which has the necessary information about locations and times for the exam. You are required to make all arrangements with the College Board, including getting the scoring results sent to the Registrar.
  • The AP Physics 1 or AP Physics C Mechanics exam is required for 104 credit.
  • The AP Physics 2 or AP Physics C E&M exam is required for 105 credit.
PHYS 116/117/118/119
  • The courses numbered 116 (Classical Mechanics) and 117 (Electromagnetism) are no longer offered at UNC – they have been replaced by 118 (Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity) and 119 (Electromagnetism and Quanta). However, many departments at UNC other than Physics and Astronomy still accept 116 and 117 credit for their majors. For this reason, we offer a “hybrid” exam to be used to award credit for any of 116, 117, 118, or 119. In the descriptions below, the exams will be referred to as “118” and “119,” although they encompass 116 and 117 as well.
  • Placement exams for 118 and 119 occur one or two days before the beginning of the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
    • The date and location for Summer 2021 is Monday, May 17, 2021, from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM in Phillips 215.
    • The date and location for Fall 2021 is Monday, August 16, 2021, from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM in Phillips 215.
  • All physics placement exams for 118 and 119 are in-person only.
  • Due to expected social distancing requirements, we anticipate capping the number of students who may take the placement exam. Sign-up at this time is first-come first-served. All details about the placement exam are subject to change.

Please carefully read the descriptions below. If you want to take the exam, please contact the Physics and Astronomy Placement Exam Coordinator to be placed on the list. Include your PID and major.

Description of Exam and Study Resources

  • The 3-hour 118 exam consists of several parts, all of which are closed-book and closed-note:
    • Part 1: Qualitative and Essay Questions
    • Part 2: Classical Mechanics Problems
      • Parts 1-2 are required for 116/118 credit and contain conceptual questions and problems similar to those found on a 118 final exam. Chapters 1-13 and 15-17 in Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Randall Knight, 4th ed., is an appropriate study resource.
    • Part 3: Measurement and Uncertainty
      • Part 3 is required for 116/118 credit and focuses on analyzing measurement and uncertainty questions or simulated laboratory experiments similar to those in 118. We provide the 118 Measurement and Uncertainty Guide as a study resource. In addition to examples throughout the Guide, the Guide’s Appendix II contains a number of sample questions and answers. See the FAQ below for a link to this Guide.
    • Part 4: Special Relativity
      • Part 4 is required for 118 credit and contains questions on Special Relativity similar to those found on a 118 final exam. Chapter 36 in Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Randall Knight, 4th ed., is an appropriate study resource; in addition, we provide the 118 Relativity Guide as an additional study resource for spacetime diagrams. See the FAQ below for a link to this Guide.
  • The 3-hour 119 exam consists of several parts, all of which are closed-book and closed-note:
    • Part 1: Qualitative and Essay Questions
    • Part 2: Electromagnetism/Optics Problems
      • Parts 1-2 are required for 117/119 credit and contain conceptual questions and problems similar to those found on a 119 final exam. Chapters 22-35 in Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Randall Knight, 4th ed., is an appropriate study resource.
    • Part 3: Measurement and Uncertainty
      • Part 3 is required for 117/119 credit and focuses on analyzing measurement and uncertainty questions or simulated laboratory experiments similar to those in 119. We provide the 118 Measurement and Uncertainty Guide as a study resource. In addition to examples throughout the Guide, the Guide’s Appendix II contains a number of sample questions and answers. See the FAQ below for a link to this Guide.
    • Part 4: Modern Physics
      • Part 4 is required for 119 credit and contains questions on Quantum Mechanics and Atomic and Nuclear Physics similar to those found on a final exam in 119. Chapters 37-42 in Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Randall Knight, 4th ed., is an appropriate study resource.
Rules for all versions of exams:
  • Students who show up without prior arrangement will be turned away.
  • Students must present their valid UNC identification card at exam time.
  • Students must supply a valid UNC e-mail address. Official communications about the exam, including any last-minute information before the exam and results after the exam, will only be sent to a valid UNC e-mail address. If you cannot provide a university ID, your outcome will be provisional until the placement exam coordinator can verify your identity; this WILL cause a delay in your outcome, and you are advised to follow this guideline carefully. Any irregularity may be considered an honor code violation. If you anticipate any issues, please let the coordinator know beforehand of your situation.
  • A non-internet compatible calculator is allowed, but no smart devices of any other kind are allowed. Graphing or solving calculators are allowed.
  • Notes, notecards, books, resources, or other materials are not allowed during the exam. Useful formulas and physical constants will be provided at exam time – see the FAQ below for links to the 118 and 119 formula pages. We strongly advise that you do not use the formula page as an indication of exam content.
  • A non-passing score will not become a part of your academic record.
  • All papers must be returned to the proctor at the end of the exam period.
  • The exams will be graded within 2 days.
  • To take the placement exam for 117 or 119, you must already have credit for either 116 or 118, respectively.
  • You may take the placement exam for 118 or 119 only one time.
  • The passing score for the exam is approximately 75%.
  • Scoring decisions are final, and you may not review the exam or the solutions after the exam. Neither the scoring rubric nor the solutions are shared.
  • If you have any further questions regarding placement exams 118 or 119, please contact the Physics and Astronomy Placement Exam Coordinator.
  • Please read the FAQ below before contacting the Coordinator with questions.

Frequently Asked Questions for the 118 and 119 Placement Exams

Will I get credit for 118 (or 119) if I pass? Ans: the Physics department merely administers the placement exam, determines if the score is passing, and sends this information on to the Registrar. Individual departments determine whether to accept credit by exam – please contact your department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies for more information. Please note that your Tarheel Tracker will not show credit for taking the course because you did not take the course – the credit is BE (“by exam”) and should allow you to continue on toward graduation. If you are a physics major, this credit issue will be fixed by signature from the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies, and you do not have to do anything further.

I don’t arrive on campus until after the date of the first exam. Can I still take the exam? Ans: we discourage this eventuality – please contact the Placement Exam Coordinator for a determination.

If I don’t pass the exam, will I be able to register immediately for 118 (or 119)? Ans: we cannot guarantee registration; however, we give priority to placement exam takers when manually adding students to the class at the last moment, if at all possible. Please let the Placement Exam Coordinator know your intentions so your name can be put in the queue.

I’m a transfer student – how does all this work for me? Ans: first, check with Undergraduate Admissions to see if any of your previous course work can be transferred to UNC as 116 or 117 credit. If you intend to declare as a physics major or minor or double major, please contact the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies.

How does Part 4 enter into my score? Ans: we will grade Part 4 as we would for any other student enrolled and taking the final exam in 118 or 119. The placement exam committee will take Part 4 into consideration in determining whether to award a passing grade on a 116/117 level or a 118/119 level.

Do you award partial credit when scoring? Ans: YES. Although we do not share the solutions or the rubric, we will look as much as possible at your thinking process and your analytical skill. Clearly state all the information you know about a problem, and if you don’t know how to solve a problem, describe how you might go about solving it. Do not leave any questions blank unless explicitly told that no explanation is needed – unless otherwise stated, any answers that include no explanation or a description (solution) of how you arrived at the answer will be given ZERO credit, even if the answer happens to be correct. Please clearly indicate which is your final answer, and don’t forget units!

Can we ask questions and/or take a break during the exam? Ans: Yes. If you have a question, approach the proctor and ask. The proctor will decide if any clarification is needed, and will share the question with the rest of the exam takers. If you need to take a break (e.g., water or bathroom), turn your test upside down and leave it on your desk and let the proctor know what you are doing and for how long – do not leave the exam room for an extended period.

Do you provide an equation sheet for the exam? Ans: We provide the 118 formula page and 119 formula page here as a courtesy; this equation sheet will also be attached to the exam when you take it. The formulas and constants needed for the exam are contained either in the formula page or in the exam itself. No memorization of formulas or constants is required – just bring your knowledge of physics and your thinking hats. You are expected to understand the basic interpretation of the formula page. For example, {r,x,y,z} generally refer to position, F to force, p to momentum, and B to electric and magnetic field, etc. You should also know how to derive certain concepts based on derivatives or integrals (e.g., velocity is the derivative of position, etc.) without any further guidance. We strongly advise that you do not use the formula pages as an indication of exam content.

How should I study for this exam – what sample problems do you provide? Ans: we do not provide samples of final exams for any of 116/117/118/119.

  • For Parts 1 and 2 of the exam, your best resource is the end-of-chapter problems in the listed chapters (above) in Randall Knight’s 4th ed of Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach, which is the current text for both 118 and 119. Any other study resources you choose (e.g., Schaum’s, on-line reviews and courses, Kaplan, Princeton, etc.) may also be appropriate if their content matches our listed chapter content.
  • Part 3 of the exam is material that can only be found in the 118 or 119 course itself; as a study aid, we provide the 118 Measurement and Uncertainty Guide as a study resource. We consider measurement and uncertainty questions to be “universal.” That is, although questions may have a 118 or 119 context, the approach to uncertainty is the same; for this reason, the 118 Guide and its Appendix of sample problems are sufficient to explain the concepts needed in 119 as well as 118.
  • Part 4 of the 118 exam (Special Relativity) is material that can only be found in the 118 course. Chapter 36 end-of-chapter problems are sufficient as a study resource; however, our 118 Guide to Special Relativity covers important information about concepts and spacetime diagrams that will be required for the placement exam.
  • Part 4 of the 119 exam (Quantum Mechanics and Atomic and Nuclear Physics) is material that can only be found in the 119 course. Chapters 37-42 end-of-chapter problems are sufficient as a study resource; no further resources are available.