Kinematics gives you the tools you need to describe motion. You don't address the causes of motion in Kinematics. The causes of motion are the domain of Dynamics, in which Newton's Laws are introduced. Kinematics uses mathematics to describe motion using the concepts of space and time.

For the MCAT, Kinematics is an important topic, both in itself and as a primary underpinning of Physics. Kinematics is one of the main areas from which the MCAT writers draw 'plug and chug' problems for the exam. Although there are only a few quantitative problems on a typical MCAT, one or two of them are frequently kinematics problems. In addition to practicing quantitative problems, you should encourage yourself in kinematics to imagine the model mechanical system, simple bodies moving in free space. Practice visualizing motion while conceptualizing displacement, velocity, and acceleration. Concentrate on building a mental space for mechanics as an imaginative skill, a capability that will help you throughout physics.

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Conceptual Vocabulary for Kinematics

Kinematics

Kinematics is a branch of mechanics which provides the basic tools for describing the motion of objects.

Kinematics is a branch of mechanics which provides the basic tools for describing the motion of objects.

Acceleration

Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of the velocity.

Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of the velocity.

Velocity

Velocity is defined as the rate of change of the position.

Velocity is defined as the rate of change of the position.

Motion

Motion means a continuous change in the position of a body relative to a reference point.

Motion means a continuous change in the position of a body relative to a reference point.

Speed

Speed is the magnitude of the velocity.

Speed is the magnitude of the velocity.

Distance

Distance is a numerical description of how far apart objects are at any given moment in time.

Distance is a numerical description of how far apart objects are at any given moment in time.

Displacement

Displacement is the vector that specifies the position of a point or a particle in reference to an origin or to a previous position.

Displacement is the vector that specifies the position of a point or a particle in reference to an origin or to a previous position.

Scalar

A scalar is a simple physical quantity that does not depend on direction, and is therefore not changed by coordinate system rotations.

A scalar is a simple physical quantity that does not depend on direction, and is therefore not changed by coordinate system rotations.

Vector

A vector is a physical quantity characterized by both magnitude and direction.

A vector is a physical quantity characterized by both magnitude and direction.

Uniform circular motion

Uniform circular motion describes motion in which an object moves with constant speed along a circular path.

Uniform circular motion describes motion in which an object moves with constant speed along a circular path.

Free-fall

Free fall is motion with no acceleration other than that provided by gravity.

Free fall is motion with no acceleration other than that provided by gravity.

Frame of reference

A frame of reference is a particular perspective from which the universe is observed, providing a set of axes from which an observer can measure the position and motion of all points in a system.

A frame of reference is a particular perspective from which the universe is observed, providing a set of axes from which an observer can measure the position and motion of all points in a system.

Trajectory

A trajectory is the path a moving object follows through space.

A trajectory is the path a moving object follows through space.

Position vector

A position vector represents the location of an object in space in relation to an arbitrary inertial frame of reference.

A position vector represents the location of an object in space in relation to an arbitrary inertial frame of reference.

International System of Units

The International System of Units (abbreviated SI) is the world's most widely used system of units.

The International System of Units (abbreviated SI) is the world's most widely used system of units.

Standard gravity

Standard gravity is the nominal acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface at sea level.

Standard gravity is the nominal acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface at sea level.

Translational kinematics

Translational kinematics or linear kinematics is the science in classical mechanics of describing the motion of a point particle.

Translational kinematics or linear kinematics is the science in classical mechanics of describing the motion of a point particle.

Ballistics

Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the motion, behavior, and effects of projectiles.

Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the motion, behavior, and effects of projectiles.

Jerk

Jerk, jolt, surge or lurch, is defined as the rate of change of the acceleration.

Jerk, jolt, surge or lurch, is defined as the rate of change of the acceleration.

Snap

Snap or jounce is the fourth derivative of the displacement vector with respect to time, with the first, second, and third derivatives being velocity, acceleration, and jerk, respectively.

Snap or jounce is the fourth derivative of the displacement vector with respect to time, with the first, second, and third derivatives being velocity, acceleration, and jerk, respectively.