The debate of whether chemistry is harder than physics often sparks exciting discussions in the world of science. Students find it confusing when choosing their subjects, and they want to know which one is more demanding. However, this question has no straightforward answer because it all boils down to an individual’s interests, skills, and capabilities.
To be more specific, students who are good at math and equations find chemistry harder because it does not interest them. Similarly, those who like memorizing and understanding things find chemistry easier than physics. So, there is no direct answer to this question; however, this gives us a chance to explore the fundamental principles, intricacies, and practical applications of both fields to make it easier for you to derive which one is harder for you.
Is Chemistry Harder than Physics?
To understand both sides better, we need to know chemistry and physics.
Generally, chemistry is the scientific study of matter, its properties, structure, composition, and how energy transforms from one state to another. It helps us understand everyday phenomena, from the colors of a rainbow to the reactions happening inside our bodies.
On the other side, physics is the scientific study of matter that seeks to understand its nature and qualities. Similarly, it encompasses a wide range of topics, from trying to figure out the nature of matter, energy, space, time, and force that shapes the things interacting in the universe to the motion of objects and behavior of particles at the smallest scale. In essence, it is the study of understanding the underlying rules directing how the universe functions.
Fundamental Differences Between Chemistry and Physics
Now that the basic definitions of both subjects are clear, I will try to differentiate between the two to elucidate what you will be dealing with in both fields. Moreover, please note that even though both are separate fields with their areas of study, they often overlap, which is why we have fields like Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics, etc.
Likewise, the distinction made in the given table might overlap as well, and you can find the main area of study of one field in the other. Nonetheless, these are some general differences that make them completely separate fields.
|The main area of interest
|Understanding how the universe works
|Physics deals with fundamental forces, energy, motion, and behavior of matter to understand the universe.
|Understanding the ways in which the universe works
|Getting knowledge of individual molecules and chemical reactions
|Organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, etc.
|Electromagnetism, mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and relativity, etc.
|Memorization and understanding
|Mathematical equations and calculations
Is Chemistry Harder Than Physics?
Chemistry requires rote memorization and complex thinking, which makes it more challenging. Moreover, those students who are more inclined towards math and are good at calculations will find chemistry harder than Physics. Likewise, it depends on your course; if you are taking a physical chemistry course made for chemistry majors, it will obviously be harder than the basic Intro to Physics course.
Chemistry is more complicated when it combines math and life sciences; it requires you to be good at both. Moreover, it has challenging sub-fields, and the lab work can be laborious and tedious.
In physics, you need to learn a few concepts and formulas and learn their application to pass tests and exams. On the other hand, chemistry includes an overwhelming amount of details that need to be remembered as it is, and it requires good memorization skills.
Is Physics Harder Than Chemistry?
Students who struggle with math and do not like mathematical equations will find physics extremely difficult as it is mainly math-oriented. On the other hand, they will love memorizing things and deciphering various reactions, making chemistry an easier course/field than Physics.
Physics includes calculus and word problems to derive equations, which can be harder for people who are not good at calculations. Moreover, the formulas and equations cannot be memorized, and if you make a little mistake, your whole answer will be considered wrong. So, if you are prone to these mistakes, Chemistry will be a better and easier choice for you than struggling with physics.
Additionally, physics needs an understanding of things, and you cannot write something you have memorized in the test. Chemistry can be memorized even if you do not understand the concept well. However, with Physics, you need to crack the solution to the problem and understand it to retain the knowledge.
Is Chemistry Major Harder than Physics?
If you are considering taking chemistry as a major and are confused about whether it is more demanding than Physics, you should read this article until the end. Chemistry can be a tedious, challenging, and demanding major. Moreover, if you do not like it as a subject in high school or A-levels, you must not go for it as a major or a career.
Chemistry includes a lot of memorization, and you will need the determination to keep up with it. Furthermore, it involves hands-on experimentation at the lab. Laboratory work can be tedious, but you must know both subjects involve laboratory work.
Likewise, it comes down to your interest because saying whether one subject is harder than another is completely subjective. For instance, I am a chemistry student, and I find Chemistry easier than Physics because I can understand it, and the experimentation and the concrete presence of chemicals make it easier to understand. On the other hand, I am not good at mathematics, and physics as a major seems too abstract, so I am inclined toward chemistry.
However, it does not mean everyone finds it easier because there are people who are good at numbers and find chemistry too tedious to choose as a major. Therefore, both majors can be harder if not chosen correctly.
Chemistry Major VS Physics Major: Career Options
If you have read about both fields’ differences and difficulty levels, you must wonder which major is more employable. Both fields offer job opportunities, and the pay scale is almost similar (not the same). However, you can become a lab assistant, entry-level chemist, quality control chemist, technician, teacher, or process engineer after taking chemistry as a major.
On the other hand, a physics major can get you a software engineer, data scientist, physicist, data analyst, and mechanical engineer job. These are the most common jobs; you can go for more out-of-the-box ones. Moreover, physics is more employable than a Chemistry major if combined with a more applied minor such as computer science.
The payscale reported average pay for chemistry and physics majors as $74,737 and $86,600, respectively. So, you can also choose your field based on employment chances and pay.
The Spectrum of Difficulty: A Subjective Perspective
Calling one subject harder than the other is completely subjective and personal. It depends solely on your personal choices, likes, and dislikes. Some people are naturally inclined towards a certain field, so you must know your interest. Furthermore, an interest in a certain subject makes all the difference because if you enjoy studying something, you will find it easier than others.
Both subjects have their own set of complexities, and both overlap sometimes. This means you can also find math, calculus, and numbers in chemistry. Similarly, physics also has formulas and numbers that need to be memorized, which means both subjects are equally hard and easier simultaneously; it only depends on your determination and hard work.
Are you Comparing Apples to Oranges?
Both disciplines are unique and cater to diverse subfields. Both challenge the mind either with abstract mathematical problems or with puzzling reactions. Moreover, the lines between these fields are often blurry, so if you are interested in both fields, why not go for a subfield that includes chemistry and physics?
Both subjects have hands-on experimental sides, relying on proving a theory through experimental investigations. So, both subjects are essentially similar yet completely different.
Does chemistry involve math?
Yes, like other sciences, chemistry has a bit of math. For example, chemistry involves exponents, scientific notations, orders of operations, algebra, unit conversion, and dimensional analysis, which are mathematical features.
What are the fields of physics and chemistry?
The distinction between Physics and Chemistry blurs when they overlap to form subfields like physical chemistry, chemical physics, nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, quantum mechanics, materials science, solid state physics, solid states chemistry, spectroscopy, crystallography, etc.
In short, there is no simple answer to us: chemistry is harder than Physics. Because both come with their complexities and challenges. For instance, physics is more math-oriented and includes word problems, calculus, and numbers, while chemistry has tedious details that need to be understood and memorized.
This means whoever is good at rote memorization will find chemistry easier than Physics, while those who are good at mathematics will find physics easier. Furthermore, the difficulty level of any subject is subjective and depends on the personal inclination towards that subject. Ultimately, your passion, determination, and natural interest matter more than the perceived difficulty, so choose the subject you like.