1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How to get better at physics

  1. Jun 7, 2012 #1
    I really can't find an effective way to improve at physics, like what am i supposed to do, solve a lot of problems, or read. I am really interested in physics and am willing to put as much work as it takes to become awesome at it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    There is no one effective method - everyone uses a mixture of techniques that seem to work for them. You want to add "talking to others" to your list of methods though.
  4. Jun 8, 2012 #3
    Learn mathematics. I don't know where you are, but in the US physics students don't earn enough math as undergrads.
  5. Jun 8, 2012 #4
    How do you know this?
  6. Jun 8, 2012 #5
    Because I taught calculus and physics for years. When I was a student in physics we had to take calc, linear algebra, ode's, pde's, complex variables, vector analysis, and fourier series and boundary value problems. Now many programs only require through linear algebra and ode's for a physics degree. I'm sure some require more but, in general, much of the math is now learned in the physics classes. Trying to learn, for example, pde's while sitting in an E&M or QM class is not terribly efficient. I noticed, in general, that those with more math tend to do better in their physics classes. Even those who had already completed a couple terms of calculus before taking their first physics class did better than those taking it concurrently.
  7. Jun 8, 2012 #6
    Do you know if what you experienced applies to many universities in the USA, or do you think your university (presuming you've taught at only one) is an anomaly?
  8. Jun 8, 2012 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Which level of physics are you currently studying? High school, introductory college/university? Higher level?
  9. Jun 8, 2012 #8
  10. Jun 8, 2012 #9
    Your question encouraged me to look. I was at a Big 10 university with a reputable program. I checked some other highly reputable programs. The University of Michigan, for example, requires the normal 3 semester calculus sequence plus differential equations as a requirement for the BS in physics, no more. Most other schools that I looked at are similar. I don't think that it's enough mathematics to succeed in physics, definitely not enough to go to grad school. Math is the language of physics, I think they should require more.
  11. Jun 8, 2012 #10
    Let me write you something. The view of Pole. Physics is not a school subject. It's world. If you want to improve any skills try to understand it at first. Oh god... what im writting. Move your imagination... take books, reade and think. Physics is not the exercices... or tests it's physic thinking about the world. Check MIT open COurses at YT or ocw.mit.org
    And find Mr. Lewin courses. For me best guy to teach you.

    And what is the most important. If you want to study anything... first take care of your mind. Train Brain. Make puzzles, play chess... hear some audiobooks of i dont know.... languages... languages are the best way to move your brain. Take magnesium ( it;s the best suplement to care of your neural connections, and lecithin. People thinks that training is the bast way... Yes ineed but without fuel is useless...

    Im terribly sory if my english is not as good as you expected. :) Best regard from Poland.
  12. Jun 8, 2012 #11
  13. Jun 8, 2012 #12
    Should working on olympiad problems help?
  14. Jun 8, 2012 #13

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    You work on problems in order to identify weaknesses at coursework, analysis, and reasoning. Working of physics problems will help improve your physics. Are the Olympiad problems especially helpful? Depends on how your mind works.

    Without taking away from what the others have said - there are no easy answers for you.
    If you are really bothered then you should consider a personal tutor - can be expensive but you'll have someone who knows the courses and knows you well enough to advise properly. Most people seem to be able to manage by forming study groups.
  15. Jun 9, 2012 #14
    If you think of being some kind o scientist. I think you MUST work on olimpiad problems.improving skills by exercices and poblems (only). Is like trying to be best "excercices resolving man" you would be like most of French students " Je sais comment les resoudre , mais n'ai aucun idee pourquoi" ofcourse im not ofending all French students but many of them think this way.

    You know what I think... Try to make a phisics yoir way to understand life and human existence. You are in train or in pause at school.. Find solutions of problems! Read books... There is none best way to improve skills. If you believe in it... In yourself you would be best scientist that ever existed.

    But as those really inteligent people said.. That depends of where you are.. And who you want to be. :)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook