Is PHYS 216 a Hard Class? My Personal Experience

Alex
Edmondson

Phys 216 is an introductory physics course where physics and engineering principles mesh together for the first time. In this article, we will review the syllabi of Phys 216, my personal experience in Phys 216, and whether I consider Phys 216 easy or hard. 

Students studying
Courtesy TEXAS A&M

The PHYS 216 Syllabus

PHYS 216 is a cross-listed class with ENGR 216. This means that both of the classes are the same, despite their different names. In engineering, this is common as many first and second year courses cover the same topics.  

PHYS 216 is the second engineering class TAMU requires engineering students to take. Many students will find themselves taking this class during the spring semester of their freshman year. However, it is much different than ENGR 102 that many students take in the fall. In ENGR 102, students focus on programming in the Python language and improving their coding skills. In PHYS 216, students will learn physics and motion principles that they will then apply to real-world engineering problems. 

One similar aspect is the goal of educating students about different engineering majors and departments within Texas A&M. As ETAM approaches in late Spring, this is one of the last chances students have to decide on switching before choosing a major.

Grading Policy

PHYS 216 is extremely lab heavy. There are 6 lab assignments that make up a total of 500 points (50%) of your grade. These labs are conducted and done with a group and is graded on your final lab report. The next most heavily weighted area is classwork/homework. There are 14 lectures in this class, meaning you will have 14 homework assignments (1 each week). There will also be some in-class quizzes given after a lecture, but these are often open-note and can be worked with a group. The class contains one test in the entire semester- the final. This makes up 20% of your grade. The last 6% comes from module and department work throughout the semester outside of class. 

a close up shot of university
Courtesy TEXAS A&M

My Experience in PHYS 216

I recently took PHYS 216 in the Spring of 2022. It was my only B of the year. I wish I had somebody who could have warned me about the troubles this class brings towards the end of the year. So, I am now writing this in hopes that I can help others avoid the same troubles I went through. 

When taking 216, it is very easy to just cruise through the class. Most of the time the lectures are super complicated and don’t make any sense, but there’s no test until the end of the semester so you don’t really worry about it. Most of the time you spend will be on the labs, as they are 50% of your grade and are relatively easy. You’ll think to yourself ‘this class is kind of easy’, and that’s where they get you. 

Remember that final that I talked about in the above paragraphs? Well, it’s a doozie. And because it’s the end of the school year and summer is so close, you’ll probably think to yourself ‘I don’t need to study for this final’. Wrong. This was the hardest test I took all year, with averages in the 40s-50s. Take the extra time to study for it and get that easy A. 

Tips and Resources

  • Rate My Professors. Like every class in college, a professor can make or break a class. See if you can squeeze into a class with a good professor as it can change your entire experience. 
  • YouTube. The best resource for any class imaginable. Some things you learn in this class can be really, really complicated and your lecture is 50 minutes long. Asking questions is usually hard to do and professors kind of just skim over information because they have so much to go over. Jeff Hanson and Flipping Physics were two channels that really helped simplify things for me and make the concepts much easier to understand. 
  • Use your group. Just like in 102, every lab you do will be with a group. Get to know each other and find strengths and weaknesses. The better you work together the easier labs will be. Use each other for homework help and questions if you’re ever in trouble.
  • Don’t coast! Like I said before, it can be so easy to just glide through this class without a care in the world. If you want that A, you are going to actually have to work for it in the back end of the class. Go get it!
shot of inside library
Courtesy TEXAS A&M

So, is PHYS 216 Hard?

There are some new and very challenging topics introduced in PHYS 216. These topics will require work outside of class to learn and understand. But, due to 80% of the grade being labs and classwork, a good grade is very attainable. The average GPA of all students in the 2021 Spring semester was 3.4. So getting a B should be the floor with an A being the goal.

PHYS 216 accomplishes its goal of introducing students to real-world engineering problems successfully. It incorporates topics learned in PHYS 206 in a way that students can see the benefits and applications of their learnings. Celebrate engineers, this is the last general engineering class you will be forced to take!