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Effectively Studying Physics?

  1. Sep 30, 2014 #1
    I have been taking an ineffective method in my physics intro class: reading the textbook and taking notes -- each chapter of notes comes out to at least 4 pages, front and back. So I'm wondering if there is a more effective way to learn physics? Should I just read, highlight, make sidenotes, work through the example problems in the textbook, and go straight to the practice problems or is writing the notes the only way? All help is appreciated; thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2014 #2


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    The best way to learn physics is to do lots, and I mean lots, of problems. On the exam, you won't be asked about what is written in the text book - you will be asked to solve problems.

    Read the text. If you understand it, do the example problems. You might want to go to the end of the chapter at this point and do the relevant problems. Or some people wait to the end of the chapter, but either way you should concentrate your studying on problem solving. Do far more problems that are assigned (i.e., if the odd-numbered problems are assigned, do the even-numbered ones for practice - really good students use other textbooks, too).

    Some people find they need more examples than the text provides. If you think that would help you, ask your professor for guidance.
  4. Sep 30, 2014 #3


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    When reading the book, you should do it in at least two passes. The first time, preview the chapter and develop a set of questions you want answered. The reason for this is that when you have questions you want answered, you'll tend to focus better on the reading and therefore get more out of it. On the second pass, read one paragraph at a time, and then put the information into your own words. So read a paragraph, then paraphrase, read the next paragraph, then paraphrase, and so on. It might sound like this will take longer than what you're used to doing, but students find it takes less time overall because you spend less time rereading sections when your attention wanders.

    Similarly, it helps to preview the text before lecture. Again, when you have questions in mind, you'll be more actively engaged in the lecture rather than you would be passively taking notes.
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