Learning any course can be challenging, and the difficulty varies for each student. However, many students agree that physics is more challenging than calculus.

Physics, a science that deals with matter, motion, quantum mechanics, and interactions between fundamental constituents of the universe, demands high numerical literacy.

So, why is physics harder than calculus?

When compared to physics, learning calculus is more straightforward. Physics is a moderately difficult course since it involves perplexing and challenging concepts.

You require more time practicing to grasp these challenging physics concepts than calculus.

Essentially, physics applies concepts from calculus where you need mastery of calculus to excel at physics.

Calculus is a branch of math that focuses on the rate of change using differentiation and integrations to calculate the motion of constantly moving objects.

Similarly, different units of physics focus on movement, electricity, harmonics, dynamics, and light, among other universal phenomena that apply calculus to calculate speed, make predictions, and other essential aspects.

As such, calculus serves as a building block to comprehending physics. 

Calculus is more confined to a theoretical realm, while physics is more concerned with the physical world.

It makes the application of calculus easier since theoretical concepts are usually ideal. In contrast, making calculations of physical quantities is more complex, considering you will have to deal with numerous variables.

Physics involves interpreting physical phenomena and provides one of the actual applications of calculus.

However, in calculus, the course material mainly focuses on ideal and easier to calculate and manipulate theoretical situations. 

Calculus generally involves plugging in formulae and solving for unknown variables. If you understand how to apply formulas and solve them, you will most likely excel in calculus.

Physics demands an understanding of these formulas, and the students must understand the underlying concepts and be able to apply them in unfamiliar contexts.

You’ll have to comprehend what is required by the question, interpret the question correctly and use the right formula while considering external factors that affect the situation.

Physics requires more critical analysis for precise analysis than calculus.

Reasoning in calculus is more abstract, where theories and solutions are developed using logical thinking via proof to support their conclusion.

However, physics goes a step higher than this, using observations and experiments to prove ideas and concepts.

While calculus relies heavily on math equations to find solutions, physics relies on more than mathematical computations.

The student needs to understand everything entirely before applying calculations. It makes calculus less demanding and thus easier to learn than physics.

Differences between calculus and physics

Calculus and physics differ in their methodology.

Calculus primarily deals with applying mathematical concepts to ideal and abstract scenarios. The theoretical application provides precise solutions and more straightforward computations.

In contrast, physics is used on natural phenomena that mostly require tests, observations, and experiments to prove certain concepts.

Its application is in the physical world, where the student must understand how to apply computations in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.

They have to deal with numerous variables that make physics more challenging than calculus.

The language between calculus and physics is different. For instance, physics is a broad scientific field with many variables representing physical functions.

Most of these functions are lacking in calculus since this math course rarely concentrates on natural phenomena.

You only focus on the mathematical grammar notations than have no physical meaning.

When learning physics, students must pay careful attention to functional forms and symbols, which is usually irrelevant in calculus as it often deals with abstract ideas. 


These two courses share similarities. They are intertwined whereby to excel in physics demands mastery of calculus.

For instance, they both deal with rates of change. Physics usually uses calculus concepts to calculate motion effectively and predict outcomes.

In the physical world, most situations occur at a constantly changing rate rather than at a constant rate.

Isaac Newton was unable to calculate the gravitation forces using basic math. He used calculus concepts regarding the rate of change to calculate gravitation forces and accurately develop motion laws. 

An example of the relationship between calculus and physics is in calculating velocity and acceleration.

Velocity is a derivative of position, and acceleration is the derivative of velocity. Evidently, calculus concepts are applied in physics. 

Final thoughts

Calculus and physics are challenging courses. However, physics proves more difficult to grasp.

Physics is a broader course that uses calculus concepts to solve most natural phenomena occurring in the physical world. Students need to master calculus to excel at physics.

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