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Conceptual physics for E&M

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1
    Just took my first E&M physics 2 test tonight, it was almost all conceptual. I feel like such a fool because it seemed basic yet most of the questions I felt uncomfortable with. My last physics class was more of the equation hunt type, working in symbols, see how things relate mathematically, etc. This class is much, much different and I have no no clue to study for concept type questions.

    I have a couple different physics books and they all have about 5-10 conceptual type questions at the end of the chapter then about 70 actual calculation ones. How do I study for these types of tests? What are some resources that stress concepts and not equations? I feel like someone is going to recommend me a 8th grade physics book...

    Thanks for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2011 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Calculus-based, with Gauss's law and surface integrals, etc.?
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3
    If you want to truly know physics you need to know both the math and the concepts well. Your teacher just probably wanted to test the concepts this time and will test the math part later. Best thing you can do is read the textbook and try to visual what you are reading, try to visualize a E field or how something becomes charged.
  5. Sep 14, 2011 #4
    I think the best way to train understanding is to solve what you call "calculation questions" and try to understand them. I think that is even possible a-posteriori, i.e. after solving a problem via pattern matching ("there is only two equations with a T in my collection, so let's equate them and see if that gives an answer"; a completely valid approach to solving problem by the way) you can look at your calculation and try to understand why it works. Discussion with others helps a lot, too (and at research level physics actually becomes inevitable).
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