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PHSCS 105 Pretest
Course Materials
Reporting and Submitting Your Homework Scores
Review Sheets
Submitting Your Review Sheets
Getting Help

Online, distance-learning classes are often considered easier than the same class in a traditional format. You will not find this to be the case for PHSCS 105, so if your intention is to find an easy course, I suggest you drop the class as soon as possible. It is a lot of work to write out helpful hints for all of this complex material. Right from the start, I hope you will carefully read all of the material that I have included in the syllabus and lessons. Everything I have included has been written to help you make it through what many students consider to be the most challenging— and fascinating—material they have encountered.

Course Objectives for Physics 105

When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the basic concepts of physics and the scientific descriptions of the natural world using precisely defined quantities such as velocity, acceleration, work, power, momentum, and energy, along with tools like vectors and scientific notation.
  2. Work with the central concepts of classical mechanics and be able to solve computational-type problems dealing with linear, ballistic, and rotational motion.
  3. Understand that subsequent problems dealing with pressure, buoyancy, and fluids in motion are just an extension of the ideas you have already dealt with in your study of classical mechanics.
  4. Describe the various laws of thermodynamics and apply these laws to a wide variety of practical problem-solving situations.
  5. Explain the concepts of vibration and wave motion so that you will be able to work with these ideas in an assortment of physical cases involving sound and various periodic phenomena.

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Course Requirements

Do not make the mistake of thinking that you will get a watered-down version of this course since it is done through distance learning. The truth is that you must complete exactly the same material that the BYU Physics Department offers in the regular on-campus version of the course. The difference is that you must read the text carefully and repeatedly to compensate for the lack of classroom lectures. Since most of you don’t have access to student tutorial labs at a college or university, you must work through the examples in the text and do your best to complete the assigned problems.

Personally, I have three expectations from you in this course:

First, I expect you to put forth your best effort.

Second, I want you to remember to use all of the course resources at your disposal. These include items such as review sheets you fill out, the lesson discussion material, and the index and appendices in the textbook. (Helpful hint: Use the entire contents of the textbook!)

Finally, since this is an online course, I expect you to experiment with some original or novel ways of looking at the coursework. I also expect you to budget your time so that you reach the goals you have set for this course and your program of study.

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PHSCS 105 Pretest

You must have a sound understanding of the principles of geometry, algebra, and trigonometry if you hope to understand the concepts covered in this class. Consequently, I have included a pretest that covers several basic questions that will allow you to determine if you are comfortable enough with these concepts to succeed in this class.

Click [ LINK REMOVED ] here now to try the pretest, so you can judge how ready you are to take this course.

If you find that you don’t know how to answer the pretest problems, or if they are especially difficult for you, I strongly recommend you take the time to review these things prior to proceeding with this course. Please do not make the mistake of assuming that these are the most difficult concepts that you will encounter in this course or that these problems represent problems of unusual difficulty. I carefully selected each of these eleven problems to represent common mathematical procedures that you will encounter repeatedly through PHSCS 105. Again, if your skills are not up to this level, please take the time to remedy this deficiency before proceeding with your study of physics.

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Course Materials

The official textbook that I use for this class is College Physics, 8th edition, by Raymond A. Serway, Chris Vuille, and Jerry S. Faughn (Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2008).

Read the Textbook!

I think you will find that this book is extremely well written, as well as well organized, highly detailed, and full of helpful examples. Additionally, it has gone through many revisions, each one making the textbook a little better. The examples that are worked out in each chapter are great for teaching problem-solving skills. They may not cover every possible variation on a given problem, but I know from experience that all of the classic problems in a college physics class are worked as examples in this textbook. Even though this class was designed around the 8th edition of the book, any of the previous editions (and, I assume, any editions that follow) will provide the material you need to master the concepts of college physics.

I feel that reading the text is the real key to success. I know that most students do not make a habit of actually reading textbooks. Students generally get through a course by listening and taking notes during classroom lectures. There is nothing especially bad about this habit; however, it does take away some of your potential as a student. I found this to be true many years ago when I took a course in calculus through what was then called BYU Home Study. For the first time in my academic career, I found I had to read a textbook—there was no getting around that fact. I had always been a very good student, but I found that I had no idea what was going on in the course unless I read the book and worked the problems. During this time, I made another discovery: many of the textbooks I had were pretty well written and contained many helpful hints.

Again, I highly recommend you take the time to study the examples in each chapter as you read through the material. By doing this, you will be able to get a good idea of what I expect of you in the assigned problems for each lesson as well as the computational problems on the exams. Do not be surprised if you see problems on the exams that look very much like examples from the book or the assigned problems. These examples in the book represent classic problems that are necessary to complete an introductory physics course. My experience is that you will have to search long and hard to find better examples of fully illustrated and carefully explained physics problems.

There are some typos in the various editions of the text, but there is no need to report those to BYU as there really isn’t anything we can do to correct those. If you find a typo in the course materials, please let us know so that it can be corrected.

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Course Organization

Discussion Material

The discussion material in the course will also be helpful as you study the science of physics. This is where I have a chance to add some of my experience and insight into the subject. I cannot completely compensate for the lack of classroom lectures; you will still need to get through most of this on your own. However, in the discussions I do my best to supplement some of the areas where students may find the text a bit hard to follow, and I discuss some of the general ideas that have always interested me as I have studied physics at various levels. Also, I use much of the discussion material to give you hints on some of the solutions to the problems and some ideas about how to keep the concepts straight in your mind.

You will quickly find that my discussion material illustrates a concept or problem that you will see on one or more of the exams. I apologize in advance that the discussion material is often quite brief. I have taught these classes in person and online for more than twenty years, and I have found that, aside from writing a textbook in my own style, there is really nothing I can tell you in a lengthy discussion that will make the problems and concepts any less challenging. Unfortunately, this is just the nature of most courses in the physical sciences. It is a conscious decision on my part to use the discussion material to give you lots of hints about the problems and concepts that I consider to be important for anyone completing a college-level physics course.


This course contains fifteen lessons. These lessons are built around three midcourse exams and the final examination. At the end of each of the first fourteen lessons, you should work through the homework problems assigned for each chapter. These are the problems that you will work for the homework score you report as part of your course grade. These problems are all self-graded and independent of the edition of the textbook that you may be using.

Physics Videos

You will find many of these lecture clips contain helpful hints and explanations that will be valuable as you work through the homework problems in many parts of your General Physics class. 

The Concept Questions are concentrated around the basic principles taught in this course and you can expect to see many of the associated written questions as part of the exams that you take during the class. 

I suggest that one good way to study for the conceptual final is to review the 88 concept questions that I have selected from the video library of Dr. Harold T. Stokes.  These will really help you to continue to think like a physicist.


I wish to thank my colleague and friend, Dr. Harold T. Stokes, for the use of the lecture clips and video concept questions that he developed in the years prior to his retirement in 2013.  These various clips present a coherent package of helpful hints and detailed explanations of concepts that were drawn from the 30+ years of experiences that Dr. Stokes gathered as he taught General Physics at Brigham Young University.  I strongly believe you will find these clips to be a valuable resource for your study of physics.  This is especially true in the case of a distance learning course where some concepts can seem especially difficult to visualize. 

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Homework Assignments

The homework questions are the questions that I have written and worked to provide a set of problems that cover the major topics in college physics. I have designed these questions so that they are similar to problems that have appeared in various editions of the College Physics textbook.

Checking Your Answers

After you complete these questions, check your answers with the ones I have provided for you in each lesson of the course.

For each of these assigned homework problems, I have personally worked out solutions in advance, and I have included a full solution for each of the problems that should help you to see the easiest way to solve each one. Remember that there are often many roads to a given answer. Students sometimes find some extremely creative ways to answer a given problem. Just because you find a different path does not mean that your answer is incorrect. However, the reverse can also be true. I have seen cases where students arrive at a correct or very nearly correct answer totally by mistake! I will not be able to give you credit for a correct answer when I grade a similar exam problem unless you have correctly applied the relevant physical concepts in a way that leads to a correct answer.

Recording Your Scores

You should record your score for each lesson in the Homework Score Sheet. Print out the Homework Score Sheet right now (it’s the next item in the course navigation).

Please enter your scores as you work the problems for each section, according to the scoring system at the end of each homework assignment.

Reporting and Submitting Your Homework Scores

As you go through the course, record your scores for each homework assignment. You’ll report your progress on the homework to me right before you take each exam.

Keep the Homework Score Sheet updated until lesson 15, when you will report your final homework score as part of the assignment. You need to submit your completed Homework Score Sheet before you can request the final exam.

The Homework Score Sheet includes the instructions to use when you determine the total number of points you have earned on the homework. Since the instructions for calculating your score are easier than most of the equations that you will be using for this course, I have decided that I will deduct 10% from your score if you are not able to correctly calculate the number of points that you have earned.

The Homework problems will count as 25% of your course grade and your score report will be on the honor system. Remember, you will not be able to do well on the exams until you have mastered both the new concepts and the problem-solving skills from each chapter in the book.

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Additional Questions

I strongly suggest that you select and work a significant number of additional problems from the textbook. Though these problems will not be scored and will not factor into your final grade, I have found that repeated exposure to many versions of the same problem is a great way to reinforce your understanding of difficult concepts. You should select these problems from sections where you find the concepts to be more challenging. Doing so will allow you to develop a better understanding of those types of problems. Furthermore, since the answers for all of the odd-numbered problems are available in the back of your textbook, you should choose from the odd-numbered problems so you can check your work afterwards.

You will find that some of these problems are quite similar to the assigned homework problems. Others will require a slightly different approach to reach a solution. I strongly encourage you to work through a number of these exercises, since the practice will help you do well on your exams.

Please realize that there are some very difficult problems in the textbook, and some of these are well beyond the level of what would be expected on an exam. You will not find computational exam problems that are at a more difficult level than the regular problems that you have done in the homework problems. It will not be necessary to solve the hardest problems to do well on the exams. I do not want to convey the idea that the study of physics is simply memorizing a series of mathematical tricks. The most important indicator of your success in this course will be how well you master the basic physical concepts in each of the sections. The key point here is that you will find that the assigned questions are an excellent indicator of the type of problems you will be tested on.

Unfortunately, I frequently receive course emails from students who are in a panic because they cannot solve some of the most gruesome problems ever imagined by the mind of man in any universe (in this case, by our textbook authors). It is unnecessary for you to spend your time trying to solve these complicated problems, and it is impossible for me to respond to problem-solving requests through email. I have many hundreds of students in different sections of different courses, and they’re all working at a different pace. If you really need to know all the answers, you may want to hire a tutor for this class. In most cases, you will do just fine if you put forward your best effort and concentrate on the basics. I have gone out of my way to design the homework and exam problems so that they reflect the classic examples that are worked in detail throughout the various editions of the textbook. If you work through the examples in the textbook and faithfully complete the homework problems, there should be no cases where you are confused by one of the exam problems.

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Reivew Sheets

This course includes three midcourse exams and a final exam. Before you take each exam, you will create an exam-review sheet, which you must submit before you request the exam.

Note: You will not be able to continue with your assignments or exams until you submit the review sheet, so that I know that you have completed the review and how you’re doing on your homework.

Review Sheets for the Midcourse Exams

You will fill out a midcourse-exam review sheet at the end of lessons 4, 8, and 14. Each of these review sheets also requires you to indicate whether or not you have done the homework problems for the chapters being tested. You will be allowed to use a copy of your review sheets during the associated midcourse exams.

The review sheets are designed to be a brief outline of the material covered for each exam. The items I have included on the review only represent my idea of a minimal outline and is not meant to cover everything that you may find important.

Please do not feel that you need to copy the entire textbook onto the review sheet. My experience shows that it is confusing to handle this much information. However, don’t let me limit what you feel will be useful to you as you take an exam. You may write anything you choose (even sample problems) on the review sheets. The review sheets should assure you that you are not required to memorize a great deal of material. I hope you recognize that my goal is to get you to understand the physics behind a problem.

Note: The information you include must fit on the pages provided for each review. Do not include additional pages.

Formatting Your Review Sheets

Complete your review sheet by printing the review sheets I have provided and hand-writing your answers. Remember, do not add pages. Scan your hand-written sheet and submit the electronic copy of the review sheet to me through your course.

Submitting Your Review Sheets

You must submit your review sheets to me through your course before you request the exam. There are no right or wrong answers on the review sheets. Their purpose is to save you from having to memorize complicated formulas, and to give me a chance to make sure that you’re prepared before you take the exam.

Final Review Course Outline (not a Review Sheet)

In lesson 15 of this course, there is a section entitled “Final Exam Preparation Information,” where you will find the Final Course Review Outline and Sample Conceptual Questions.

This outline and list of questions covers the key ideas in the course will help you study for the final exam. Remember that this is just one possible outline and question set, and they are really just a restatement of the objectives for each of the fourteen chapters that have been covered in the course. Feel free to make additions to this outline and questions if that helps you recall some of the ideas that were unfamiliar as you began your review.

You should go through each of concepts I’ve listed, as well as your midcourse exam-review sheets, and make sure that you are familiar with the essential ideas that were covered in each section. In this case, it is fine to just check off each section or include some brief notation to let me know that you have covered this material and are familiar with these concepts.

You may not use the course outline during the final exam.

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As you should have figured out, you’ll complete three midcourse exams and a final exam for the course.

The exams are only available to be taken in a paper format. Please plan for shipping time.

Midcourse Exams

This course is designed around three midcourse exams:

Before each of the exams, you will find a section entitled “Midcourse Exam Preparation.”

There is no time limit on these three exams. The three midcourse exams contain a wide variety of problems. Simple problems will be mixed with others that may be fairly challenging, but not impossible.

The exams will consist of 25 questions. Fifteen questions on each exam will be multiple choice. These multiple-choice questions will be worth two points each. You will find that the multiple-choice questions are based on the basic concepts that are covered in the chapters, and if they require a computation, it will be easy and require only the most simple equations. Most of the multiple-choice problems will be totally conceptual and will ask for your conclusions about a set of facts based on the concepts you have learned. There will also be ten problems that can be answered only with a more detailed computation. These computational problems will be worth six points each.

Each midcourse exam is worth ninety points and represents 20% of your total course grade.

As you prepare for the midcourse exams, you need to remember that one major objective for this course is to learn to use physical concepts and apply them to everyday situations. This is the reason that I stress concepts so much on the midcourse and final exams.

You may also use a scientific or graphing calculator on the exams, though you will not be allowed to use a cell phone or any device that is connected to the Internet during the exams.

Final Exam

The final exam includes 45 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of concepts rather than your ability to solve computational problems. These questions will be similar to (and in some cases, almost identical to) the conceptual questions on prior exams. The reason behind this approach is actually quite straightforward. You need to know the physical concepts behind the problems in order to solve problems that you may encounter in the future. This course will serve you well if you take the time to master the concepts.

Keep in mind that, unlike the midcourse exams, you will not be allowed to have review sheets or other papers with you during the final exam.

By this time, you should have memorized some of the more basic equations and laws that you have used throughout the course. None of the problems on the final will involve difficult computations. However, there will be several of the simple computational problems on the final exam. Remember, they are conceptual questions, so even the ones that require some computation are really just asking about the definition of a given concept, such as velocity, force, or conservation of energy.

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In addition to the review sheets and homework problems, you must take three midcourse examinations and a comprehensive final examination to complete this course. Here is the breakdown:

3 Review sheets (lessons 4, 8, 14) Pass/Fail
3 Midcourse exams 60%
1 Homework score report and final review course outline (lesson 15) 25%
1 Final exam 15%

Your grade for the course will be determined using the following scale:

Grading Scale
A 100–93 C 76–63
A- 92–90 C- 62–60
B+ 89–87 D+ 59–57
B 86–83 D 56–53
B- 82–80 D- 52–50
C+ 79–77 E (fail) 49 and below

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Getting Help

If you need assistance as you’re working through the course, there is help available: a tutor is ready to answer any questions you have.

Please contact the tutor at isphysicstutor@byu.edu. (You can also make an appointment to come in person if you live conveniently close to BYU campus.)

Please do not contact me directly; I won’t be able to give you immediate attention.

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Time Requirements

I feel that it is not possible to do well in this course without working hard for at least two months. I will allow you to move as fast as you like; however, please be aware that you do so at your own risk! Please remember that even though I say that you may move through this course as rapidly as you wish, rules and regulations governing online courses change from time to time, and thus there may be official policies that regulate the time required to complete a course. See the Course Policies for more information. I have no influence or ability to regulate these official requirements. Please do not send me any of your questions regarding the administrative aspects of online classes, as I have no authority regarding these matters.

Additionally, please do not try to alter the organization of the course. You should submit your exams and assignments in the proper order. Each lesson must be tracked through the system or it may be lost. Under no circumstances should you try to send assignments and exams directly to me to bypass the course. If you do this, there is no record or copy of your submission and I am not allowed to enter a grade for any lesson that has not been marked as received.

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


Multiple homework assignments submitted as 1 instructor-graded assignment. No resubmission is allowed.


3 proctored, instructor-graded midcourse exams and 1 proctored, computer-graded final exam. No retakes are allowed. You must pass the final exam to pass the course.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514

BYU Copyright Notice for TEACH ACT

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.
“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment…
Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy.

Copyright notice for specific, individual copies
All copies are intended for non-commercial, educational purposes in connection with this registered course and only for students enrolled in this course. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws.