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Studying Advice on Studying Physics

  1. Oct 7, 2012 #1
    I am studying undergrad physics for the first time, and am finding it rather a stretch. I assumed because I have taken a lot of math (with some pretty interesting physics applications) that it would be easy, and am currently paying for that assumption. In my limited experience, success with most subjects comes with the proper orientation, i.e. knowing the right perspective with which to approach the material. Since I have obviously come at physics from an a**-backwards place, can anyone kindly share their a-ha moments with studying physics, or how they learned to look at the process as they improved? Any specific details of things you did, study habits, etc. would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance:)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2012 #2
    How much math have you taken? Which physics course are you on?
  4. Oct 7, 2012 #3
    I am on my first calc-based physics course in a series of two, the basic for undergrads in the sciences. The last math class I took was Intro to Differential Equations.
  5. Oct 7, 2012 #4
    You are not that far ahead in the math game, though the extra classes should definatly help. What aspect of physics are you having problems?
  6. Oct 7, 2012 #5
    I am finding it needlessly complicated, and spending a long time trying to figure out what I am supposed to be doing when working on a problem. It is almost as though the professor fails to emphasize relevant info in his lecture, in combination with my textbook leaving out steps in demonstrating how to solve problems (which would of course show me what I should immediately look for.) We are working on Newton's Laws right now- nothing terrible, but why does it take me so long to realize what is going on? It is simple, so should make some kind of intuitive sense, right?
  7. Oct 7, 2012 #6
    I am no expert in physics as I have only taken mechanics myself. The math is extreemly easy but I understand the difficulty in trying to figure out when to apply formula to what. (though I would think it should be easier for you since you should know how derive everything from F=MA) I personaly had no formal calculus classes under my belt. I also had a good teacher teaching the subject. There seems to be a lot of onlince lectures (Mit open course) that can help greatly. Give that a try, they cover all topics that I covered in my class.
  8. Oct 7, 2012 #7
    Funny you should mention OCW, I have just started doing that..Good to know you have found it useful.Thank you for your helpful input:)
  9. Oct 7, 2012 #8
    Frankly, differential equations probably will not help much. Most intro mechanics problems (most) are mathematically very simple. It's a matter of setting up the problem right and dealing with the algebra.

    That being said, Kleppner's mechanics book is very good for someone who already knows calculus.
  10. Oct 7, 2012 #9
    Thank you. I am definitely having trouble setting up my problems right. Lacking the overall perspective that enables me to frame my problems correctly is the issue. I will certainly check out Kleppner's Mechanics.
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