Is Physics Hard?- Why is Physics so hard?

Is Physics Hard

Physics comes under the mathematical subjects along with Statistics and Mathematics, of course. The majority of students in schools and colleges find physics hard and challenging compared to other science subjects like Chemistry and Biology. Is Physics Hard?

Researchers also figured out that it is a challenging and mind-boggling subject. And scientists have proved this fact too. Even finding an equation to know how a system operates is considered  ‘hard’ by the computer algorithm. That’s a solace for physics students that their future jobs are secured from automation.

How does Physics work?

Physicists rely on mathematical formulae to describe how a system or a theory works. It is more of a practical subject that defines a fact by equations and not merely states a theoretical concept.

For instance, Physicists devised a formula to track the motion of planets along with their moons around the sun. They derived so by measuring the objects at different points in time, later on, devised a formula to link all these points together. It is somewhat like filling in a video from a series of snapshots. 

Why is it so hard?

  • It requires complex equations and formulae to define a concept.
  • Each concept necessitates thinking at various levels. So, it is a multi-dimensional approach to come up with a conclusion. 
  • Experimentation validates the theoretical values.
  • Aberration in results is a common thing students and physicists face during experiments. By reformulating the equations, they reduce the errors.
  • A plethora of physical quantities to learn and remember.
  • Interpretation of graphs.
  • Results need to be represented on graphs and numerically.
  • Incorporating trigonometric and logarithmic tables.
  • Deals with different types of equipment in the laboratory and updating oneself with concepts like zero error, accuracy, least-count, sensitivity, etc.
  • The interplay of graphical and mathematical representations.
  • Incorporation of mathematical topics like algebra, calculus, and geometry to understand and formulate concepts.
  • Deals with abstract topics like Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics.
  • Dealing with physical quantities as scalar or vector quantities.

Mathematics required to learn the Basic Physics

  1. Trigonometry
  2. Algebra
  3. Geometry
  4. Calculus

Concepts need to learn for Basic Physics

  1. Newton’s laws of motion- every problem before you delve into the modern physical concepts like quantum mechanics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, involves Newton’s laws of motion. These three laws can be applied to all branches- whether classical or electromagnetic or sound waves. 
  1. Conservation of energy- first law of thermodynamics is applicable in almost all facets of Physics. Most problems deal with the total energy of a system- whether kinetic or potential. Problems in collision deal with the law of conservation of mass. 

How to understand Physics?

  1. Be familiar with all the terms in physics and mathematical formulae and equations.
  2. Try to describe concepts in your own words.
  3.  Learn the skill of expressing any concept into its mathematical equivalent
  4. Learn by visualization rather than memorization
  5. Draw the idea behind the concepts, that way broadens your understanding and knowledge

How do other science subjects differ from Physics?

  • Biology deals a lot with the memorization of facts. They deal with the diagrammatic representation of concepts and topics. Students need to have excellent memorizing skills and the ability to explain concepts better. There are no calculations, graphs, and numerical in Biology, at least up to the high school level.
  • Chemistry also deals with memorizing skills to some extent. However, there are numerical and equations involved. But they are not as complex as in Physics. Chemistry students should have a good grasp of atomic structure, electron structure, chemical equations, organic as well inorganic chemistry. 
  • Mathematics is also found out to be easier when compared with Physics. In mathematics, one needs to know the method of solving a particular problem. It requires a great deal of practice to study and score well in Mathematics.

Comparison between High school level and College level Physics

  • College-level physics has a more in-depth syllabus and is more rigorous as compared with high school-level physics.
  • It’s more challenging when a student enters college. There are high expectations and demands of college professors from students. They sometimes expect them to know the concepts and formulae beforehand before entering college. While some students excel, others need more time and strength to cope up with the syllabus and concepts.
  • The professors are tough and strict as compared to teachers in high school. Around 50% of students in the US drop an introductory course in colleges.
  • The standards of a collegiate course are raised, so students need to work hard to meet up those standards to excel in the field.
  • The course length is one of the major differences between high School Physics and College Physics. 
  • At the high-school level, students study physics for several months. They have less syllabus and more time. So, students find it a bit easy and manageable to pass the subject with good scores. While in colleges, semesters are of shorter duration and classes are less frequent. So, students are expected to cover more topics on their own and that too in less time.

Why computer theory finds it hard to solve Physics problems?

With each new variable, computers find it tougher to come up with the right equation. Computers can level themselves up by sifting through potential solutions at high-tech speeds. Still, the world’s top supercomputers meet the match with some problems known as ‘hard’ problems. These ‘hard’ problems take exponentially more time to solve equations with every additional variable. For instance, considering an extra planet’s motion into the equation. 

Mathematicians come across a variety of ‘hard’ problems that can’t be simplified by computer algorithms. These problems are indeed variations of one another. The challenge of turning physics data into an equation is one of these problems classified as ‘hard.’ 

Thus, any computer algorithm that can turn a set of data into a formula that describes the system can’t be simplified to run on a computer. 

Physicists hope to find a way to turn these supposedly complex problems into simplified computer algorithms.


Your perception of the subject assesses how difficult or easy a subject is for you. It depends upon your passion and caliber that determines your inclination towards that subject. The ease or difficulty of a subject depends upon various factors like-

1. Individual’s perception

2. Public opinion

3. Amount of time invests to understand the subject (and that too depends upon one’s core interest). 

Each student has to figure out answers for themselves. 

However, if we are looking at an easy answer, it is considered the hardest and the most challenging course available at any college. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What subjects should I study in high school if I want to take physics at university?

Many subjects and professors at university assume that you have already studied those subjects at high school. So, if you are planning to study Physics at university, you should study Mathematics and Physics at high school. 

Universities often have a fundamental course in it for students who do not have a strong background in physics. 

  1. What are the different streams of Physics which I can opt for at university?

Students can choose between the three streams- Fundamental, Regular, and Advanced, depending upon their background in physics at school. The fundamental course is for those who haven’t studied Physics at school or not having a strong background in Physics. The Regular stream is for those who have studied Physics at high school. The Advanced stream is for students with a strong background in Physics and those who want to study advanced topics. Mechanics and Waves are included in all three courses. Thermal Physics is included in both regular and advanced streams, whereas the fundamental stream deals with the ‘Language of Physics.’ Advanced physics deals more with mathematical details and move along at a fast pace. 

  1. What skills do I incorporate during my major in physics at university?

Skills students can learn which open up their job prospects are-

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Information handling
  3. Critical reasoning
  4. Logical thinking
  5. Communication skills
  6. Computer skills
  1. What are the job options for a physicist?

After completing a degree in Physics, one can become a professional physicist after further studies and research. Depending upon your skills and interests, you can take up jobs in Medicine, IT, Journalism, Industry Management, Manufacturing, and many other promising career options.

  1. Are there any different fields in Physics apart from the traditional ones?

Yes, there are different fields in physics. Depending upon its applications, they are opted by students. 

  1. Medical Physics- The branch of physics where the physicists apply their skills and knowledge in different areas of medicine like treatment of cancer, monitoring, and imaging of body parts, in medical electronics, etc. 
  2. Computational Science- The field of study where the emphasis is on solving problems in natural sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, etc. with the help of computer knowledge and applications.
  3. Nanoscience- deals with analyzing, measuring, and visualizing structures of molecular dimensions and the study of the interaction between different molecules to form stable structures. 
  4. Astrophysics- The branch of physics dealing with applying the methods and phenomena in studying astronomical objects. 
Is Physics Hard?- Why is Physics so hard?

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