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Philosophy of the Book

This book is about the concepts of physics, with the goal to prepare you, the reader, to pass the physics part of the MCAT. The physics and chemistry portions of the MCAT consist mainly of a series of passages, each with several questions or problems. Often the passages involve unfamiliar situations and, rather than numbers, explanations, relationships among various quantities, and extrapolations to new situations. Physics and chemistry problems are sometimes mixed, and there is no ordering from easy to difficult. When pre-med students find out about the exam, they are often fearful.
How do you prepare for such a thing?
The short answer is: by thinking and doing physics.
This book actually has several goals. One is to give you a working knowledge of the basic concepts of physics. Although you will not need a battery of specialized equations, you should remember enough equations to understand the ideas. The text portion of this book covers all the topics listed in the MCAT study guide, but it omits details included in many freshman physics texts. Instead, it concentrates on the underlying ideas.


Another goal is to teach you how to solve problems in science. But you cannot learn to solve problems by simply reading about physics. The way to learn is to solve problems. Then you can solve future problems, for example, on the MCAT, by thinking in the same way as when you solved problems before. For this reason each chapter contains problems in the text with full explanations, as well as problems for you to solve at the end. The solutions at the back of the book tell you how to think about the problems, which clues to look for, and what methods to apply. The goal is for you to learn how to approach new problems.
In each chapter the initial problems are simple, in order to help you to practice your understanding of the concepts in that chapter. These problems may be easy questions or single problems involving some calculations. Although they are not a close approximation of MCAT questions, you will have difficulty on the exam unless you learn to do these first. Gradually, the problems in a chapter become more difficult, and at the end of every chapter there are MCAT-style passages. In all, there are 51 passages in this book.

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