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How do you know if you're ready for the test? (physics)

  1. May 14, 2012 #1
    I have a problem of knowing whether or not I am ready for a test. The difference between math and physics is that in math there's going to be a finite amount of question types and the practice problems is sufficient to know if you are ready or not, the problem being with physics is that the teacher can throw literally anything at you and you have to analyze the situation in the question. How can I be sure that I understand every concept presented in a manner to do anything the teacher throws at me?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2012 #2
    Problems. Lots and lots of problems. It's a bit like the early Trig proofs, the more you do the more tricks you learn.. so while there are a near-infinite amount of ways to rewrite and over-complicate a simple identity to see if you can prove that it is in fact an identity, the more you do the better you get. Over time you develop an intuition. You learn to recognize certain things so even when the problem is unique you stand a much better chance of solving it.
  4. May 15, 2012 #3


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    You can never be absolutely sure you're ready for anything. But there are approaches you can use to build your confidence.

    One big thing is to practice problems with some sort of feedback. Work on problems that have solutions you can look up. When you don't get them, figure out where you went wrong.

    Another trick is to try to think like a teacher or professor. You've covered such and such material - what questions would you ask to test your pupils? Some of the best test-takers I know were very good at predicting the kinds of questions that would come up on exams. Obviously they wouldn't predict the *exact* questions, but they would usually be quite accurate at predicting the type of questions. If you're not personally good at this, spend time with people who are.

    Another trick is trying to think beyond the material. Just doing the textbook problems will only get you so far. You have to try to apply the concepts you've learned to scenarios you haven't already encountered. This is how you develop a deeper understanding of the material.
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