Review: Fundamentals of Physics by Resnick & Halliday

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I think since the year the JEE began, Resnick and Halliday has been touted as one of the best book from which to study Physics from.
As I have said repeatedly in my articles on this blog, Physics tends to be a tough nut to crack. If you do not have a good teacher for physics (or do not have good video lectures with you, like those of Kaysons) then understanding physics and solving tough problems in the subject can be a daunting task.

Analysis

The book by Haliday and Resnick, helps you in your physics journey quite a lot. Their book covers a lot of concepts in the sub-topics of Mechanics (including properties of materials, gravitation, hydrodynamics, SHM and waves), Heat & Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism & Current, Optics and Modern Physics.
The book covers most of these concepts in a reasonably thorough fashion – it is basically a book of physics which explains physics through calculus (and does a good job of it).

However, there are certain topics in this book that are not as per the JEE scope. Also the coverage of some topics (like rotational dynamics, heat transfer, 1st law of thermodynamics etc.) is not that deep in my view.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Written in an easy to understand language with ample illustrations.
  • Clears most basic concepts of high-school physics very well.
  • Covers every topic in the JEE syllabus, has more topics than in the syllabus in-fact.
  • A complete and thorough book for “classical” physics and basics of Modern Physics

Cons

  • Sometimes, the treatment of topics is too basic and not too much advanced material is covered. This is particularly true of topics like gravitation, hydrodynamics, heat, thermodynamics (1st law) etc. Even in mechanics, advanced problems are neither discussed nor solved.
  • The end of chapter problems are too easy. Only the ones marked by stars (toughest problems/ challenge problems) are worth doing from the JEE perspective.
  • Too much reading material and too much theory at times. It takes 3 paragraphs to explain concepts that could have been easily explained in one paragraph, in my view. This makes the book a bit boring to read as well. It is not quick and crisp enough.
  • Less examples. A lot more examples (especially tough ones) would have made this book ideal for the JEE.
  • Material covered is more than required for the JEE. Only around 75% to 80% of the material is relevant for the JEE.

Recommendation

This book is good to clear one’s theory and concepts from. If you do not have access to a good teacher (or good video lectures like those of Kaysons) then this book can act as a concept clearing base. But do not think that problem solving from this book will help you much in JEE (mains or advanced). You will have to solve problems from question banks or other preparation material (your coaching institute’s question sets etc.).
It is a good book to have as a reference book for concepts and theory only – which it does a decent job of clearing. Not having enough tough examples is a very weak point of this book.
Our recommendation is to go for this book if you think your physics is really very weak and if you think you need a reference that explains stuff from the very basics. And if you want the explanation to be easy (but long).

Rohit Mehra

IIT D , IIM A grad with a passion for education, especially STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math). Love the JEE and the way it has evolved through time ... keen to help students crack it.

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2 Responses

  1. Sudarshanam says:

    Is “Seers and Zeemanskys – University physics” good for jee preparation ?
    Is it better than “Resnick halliday” ?

    • Sudarshan says:

      please tell me name of a calculus book for iit jee maths in which everything is explained in detail and can be easily understoodand has enough theory and interesting .

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