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AP Physics B concept trouble?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm currently a Junior in high school with an average GPA of about 3.197 (includes first semester of Junior year). Over the years, I havent really been taking hs TOO seriously due to the lack of focus and effort in my studies (and also because I thought high school would be as easy as middle school :/). This year I'm taking AP Physics B and it is VERY interesting to me, although some topics are a bit boring(such as fluids and thermodynamics). It is only second semester and throughout this whole year I seem to be having trouble with the class. I currently have B in the class (although it is HEAVILY curved).

Whenever I do my homework, I understand how to do most of the problems (not the super hard ones however) without reading the book beforehand. I base most of the homework problems on the examples shown throughout the book. I noticed over the years that my understanding of math problems or any kind of problems in general are done best through looking at multiple examples.
I've read that if you know how to do the problems then you understand Physics, but the thing is, I dont think I understand the CONCEPTS of physics. I can apply equations to problems and I know what the symbols mean but I feel as if the concept portion is weak. I tend to read my text book (Physics 4th Edition-Douglas C. Giancoli) and Princeton Review's Cracking the AP Physics B Exam test after I've done my problems to try to understand what is going on. I feel as if reading the text before doing problems is like beating a dead horse (I never get anywhere!). However, even if I do read the text after, it doesnt get TOO much better either.
My AP test is coming up in May, and I've noticed that I can do the FRQs, but for the multiple choice portion I feel uneasy about because of the lack of understanding of concepts. Does anyone have any advice? Obviously reading the text doesnt really help for me because all the information just DOESNT stick in my head!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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There are two types of problems in high school exams. There are ones that require restating a definition or plug and chug. I think from your description you seem to be fine with that. But really think about it, physics is more than just using formulas and if you really want to do well and appreciate the subject, it is a good thing to do study the concepts. Could you more specific why you struggle with the concept? Don't you like the text? Do you read text books in general even for other classes? How good is your teacher? Give me an example of a conceptual problem you struggled so that I could get a better feel. Good luck!
 

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