Is Physics Harder Than Calculus?

By Ishika S.

21 February, 2024

The comparison between physics and calculus in terms of difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths, interests, and learning styles. Both subjects have their complexities and challenges, but they also offer unique opportunities for intellectual growth and problem-solving.


Here are four reasons why some may perceive physics to be harder than calculus:

1. Abstract Concepts and Mathematical Rigor:

Physics often deals with abstract concepts such as electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and relativity, which require a deep understanding of mathematical principles. The application of calculus in physics involves complex equations and mathematical rigor, making it challenging for some students to grasp the underlying concepts.

Calculus involves the study of rates of change and accumulation, which can be visualized geometrically through graphs and diagrams. This visual aspect of calculus can aid in intuition and understanding. In contrast, physics concepts may be more abstract and require a higher level of visualization skills to comprehend phenomena such as forces, motion, and energy.

2. Visualisation and Intuition:

Physics often requires experimental verification of theoretical concepts through laboratory experiments and observations. Understanding the relationship between theoretical principles and real-world phenomena can be challenging for students, as it involves applying abstract concepts to practical situations. Calculus, while also applicable in real-world scenarios, may offer more straightforward applications in fields such as engineering, economics, and biology.

3. Experimental Verification and Real-world Applications:

4. Interdisciplinary Nature and Multifaceted Challenges:

Physics is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing upon concepts from mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. This multidisciplinary nature introduces additional complexities and challenges, as students need to integrate knowledge from various fields to solve complex problems. Calculus, although foundational in many disciplines, may offer a more focused and structured approach to problem-solving within its domain.

While both physics and calculus present their own set of challenges, the perception of difficulty often varies depending on individual preferences and experiences. Physics may be perceived as harder than calculus due to its abstract concepts, mathematical rigor, visualization requirements, experimental verification, and interdisciplinary nature. However, with dedication, practice, and effective learning strategies, students can overcome these challenges and develop a deeper understanding of both subjects. Ultimately, the perceived difficulty of both subjects is subjective.