PHY399: Senior Seminar in Physics
Gustavus Adolphus College
Fall Semester 2007
This course was created by the department in 1991 in response to requests from students for assistance in preparing for the GRE subject test in physics. This course has taken the form of topical review problem sessions, with two practice exams and some suggestions for improving one's test-taking strategies. Not everyone who takes this course will take the GRE subject test, this semester or ever. We recognize that, and have tried to adjust the course so that it has value to physics majors, whatever their future plans. Independent of the test preparation objectives, the course activities are designed to have value as a means of reviewing physics you have seen before, as well as connect to unfamiliar topics.
The GRE Physics Subject Test is a test of your problem solving ability in a timed multiple-choice format. The only way to improve your performance from the beginning of the semester to the end is practice, practice, practice! As you practice, you will find that recalling the necessary concepts and equations becomes easier, and they will become a part of your "physics toolbox."
In the class sessions, the students will lead discussions of problem solving techniques and solutions to sample problems. More general problem solving techniques will also be discussed, including dimensional analysis, dependence analysis (what variables should the solution depend on), symmetry considerations, analogies and process of elimination.