Preliminary Exam Preparation


Notre Dame physics department offers a course that incoming domestic graduate students may take during the summer to help prepare them for the preliminary exam. This eight-week course is optional, and students who take it receive a stipend while the course is in session. The course covers all the material relevant to the preliminary exam, including mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, special relativity, electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics. Beyond providing a useful review of physics, most students enjoy the opportunity to meet their future classmates and form connections before the start of the first semester.

Exams for 2017 are not yet scheduled

Part I and Part II exams are held on Saturday (9:00 am to 1:00 pm).  Generally Part I is held the Saturday before classes start in the fall and the Part II exam is two weeks after that.

Sample Exams




Details for PHYS77031 and PHYS77032 for Summer 2017

All classes are held from 9:00 am to noon in Room 184 Nieuwland Science Hall

The schedule and instructors will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.  Usually after the new year.


Physics (Fifth Edition), John Wiley and Sons (2002)
Vol 1 is by Resnick, Halliday, and Krane and has the following ISBN: 0-471-32057-9 
Vol 2 is by Halliday, Resnick, and Krane and has the following ISBN: 0-471-40194-3 

Topics and Chapters Covered by Week

PHYS77031 -- Week 1

  • Fluid Statistics, Chapter 15
  • Fluid Dynamics, Chapter 16
  • Oscillations, Chapter 17
  • Wave Motion, Chapter 18
  • Sound Waves, Chapter 19


PHYS77031 -- Week 2

  • Special Theory of Relativity, Chapter 20
  • Temperature, Chapter 21
  • Molecular Properties of Gases, Chapter 22
  • First Law of Thermodynamics, Chapter 23
  • Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Chapter 24


PHYS77031 -- Week 3

  • Motion in One Dimension and Force and Newton's Laws, Chapters 2-3
  • Motion in Two and Three Dimensions and Applications of Newton's Laws, Chapters 4-5
  • Momentum, Chapter 6
  • Systems of Particles, Chapter 7
  • Rotational Kinematics and Rotational Dynamics, Chapters 8-9


PHYS77031 -- Week 4

  • Angular Momentum, Chapter 10
  • Energy 1: Work and Kinetic Energy, Chapter 11
  • Energy 2: Potential Energy, Chapter 12
  • Energy 3: Conservation of Energy, Chapter 13
  • Gravitation, Chapter 14

Part I Equation Sheet

Part I Problem Summary


PHYS77032 -- Week 1

  • Electric Charge and Coulomb's Law and The Electric Field, Chapters 25-26
  • Gauss' Law, Chapter 27
  • Electric Potential Energy and The Electrical Properties of Materials, Chapters 28-29
  • Capacitance and DC Circuits, Chapters 30-31
  • The Magnetic Field, Chapter 32

PHYS77032 -- Week 2

  • Faraday's Law of Induction, Chapter 34
  • Magnetic Properties of Materials, Chapter 35
  • Inductance and Alternating Current Circuits, Chapters 36-37
  • Maxwell's Equations and Electromagnetic Waves, Chapter 38
  • Light Waves, Chapter 39

PHYS77032 -- Week 3

  • Mirrors and Lenses, Chapter 40
  • Interference and Diffraction, Chapters 41-42
  • Gratings and Spectra and Polarization, Chapters 43-44
  • The Nature of Light and the Nature of Matter, Chapters 45-46
  • Electrons in Potential Wells, Chapter 47

PHYS77032 -- Week 4

  • Atomic Structure, Chapter 48
  • Electrical Conduction in Solids, Chapter 49
  • Nuclear Physics, Chapter 50
  • Energy from the Nucleus, Chapter 51
  • Particle Physics and Cosmology, Chapter 52

Part II Equation Sheet

Part II Problem Summary