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Studying Do I have to solve all the problems in a book?

  1. Apr 7, 2016 #1
    Apologies if this question has already been asked but a quick google search as well as a PF - specific search didn't yield anything.

    So, I am currently going through University Physics (Freedman, Young , Sears Zhemansky) before junior year starts and I was wondering if I have to solve all the problems in the exercises. There are about a 100 problems per chapter (on average) with around half of them as miscellaneous and the other half is section-specific.

    I did that once and it put me off Physics for quite some time. Ideally, I'd look through a problem just to see if I could do it and then skip it. But sometimes it happens that the problem looks really obvious but am unable to find a solution.

    So, is it necessary to solve all the problems? And if not , what is the criteria to skip a problem?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2016 #2


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    The criteria is when you're able to recognize that a problem is the same as ones you've already previously solved, except with different numerical values or when you've reduced it to one.

    That doesn't mean just looking at it and determining it's the same because it's similar to problem x, but really the same. That skill comes with practice.

    If time wasn't finite, then doing all the problems would be good practice. Since it isn't, the goal is to do as many novel problems as possible.
  4. Apr 7, 2016 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    You need to be able to solve all the problems in the book. That's a different statement than actually solving all the problems in the book.
  5. Apr 7, 2016 #4
    It really depends on the book. When doing a book like Stewart's calculus or the book mentioned in the OP, solving all problems is a waste of time. Just make sure that you do a representative sample that gives you confidence you could solve all problems if necessary.

    Other books like Kleppner & Kolenkow or most real analysis books are different. In such books, I would recommend solving all problems. There is a very limited amount of problems in such books anyway. The problems tend to give very solid insights and are not simply rearrangements of the formula.
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