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!

B How to solve physics problems

  1. Jun 9, 2018 #1
    Hello everyone! My finals in physics are in the corner (actually in 6 days) and I have studied a lot. Tho, my teacher yesterday told me that in the exams, unfortunately, I won't be able to make the hard thought or solve the hard problem. And that almost 1 week before just took me apart. And ok I am stupid got it and yes now it's too late. But, could you give me any general advice on how to solve physics problems?
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2018 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    My suggestion would be to go back through your tests, quizzes, and problems looking for the areas you had the most trouble or greatest trouble and then look for Khan Academy videos related to the topic to review it.

    I would also study with your fellow students to see if they can help you as they went through the same course and know better what the teacher will test on.

    This is really the best you can hope for this late in the game.

    https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics
     
  4. Jun 9, 2018 #3

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm sorry, I don't understand why this is a problem for you. My students would have been happy if they didn't have to solve hard problems on exams. :biggrin:
     
  5. Jun 9, 2018 #4
    Thank you!

    Yes um like sometimes in some exercises you have to understand things about what is going on in order to order to solve them. So he kinda told me that I can't put the things down and think them in order to solve the hard problems
     
  6. Jun 9, 2018 #5

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Wow, you're fast! You answered the first version of my question before I changed it. :smile:
    I still don't understand the problem. :frown: Maybe there's a language difference. A specific example might help.
     
  7. Jun 9, 2018 #6

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Can you describe a concrete example of a problem you have difficulty with?

    So far your descriptions are too fuzzy and hence we can’t give good advice.

    For high school physics problems, there are formulas you need to know and the conditions that these formula apply under.
     
  8. Jun 9, 2018 #7
    Yeah sorry about that, just it's the language difference and don't know exactly how you do things there to be honest. So I can't really give an example but I will try. We have an exercise with oscillations. I know the formulas I have read the exercise and have used the formulas in the first 3 questions. The 4th one is harder and it needs to think in order to solve in and not just use the formulas. He said, that I cannot make that "hard thought" that is required to solve the question. Even though I know the formulas
     
  9. Jun 9, 2018 #8

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    So your teacher is telling you that you don’t have the ability to solve the fourth problem?

    He’s saying you’re not smart enough to solve it?

    Or is he saying you need to think more deeply about?
     
  10. Jun 9, 2018 #9

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    i really wish you could give us a concrete example because we just can’t help if we can’t identify what you’re having trouble ith.

    I know many students have trouble applying the correct physics formula from a list of formulas to a given problem. They don’t know the condition under which a formula applies.

    In college, you learn to derive the formulas from the conditions of the problem and then you begin to see how things are interconnected.
     
  11. Jun 9, 2018 #10
    He says I am not too smart to solve it. Because even though I know the formulas I can't think around them in order to solve something different than the classic problems
     
  12. Jun 9, 2018 #11

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Okay then you need to review those Khan videos that should help you.

    And talk to your fellow students about this. Your teacher is trying to point out that you need to understand the reason behind why one formula is used over another or how you can work through a more complex problem by finding intermediate values and applying the formulas in a certain sequence to achieve your answer.

    Do you have a student review book that you can refer to? Often they will point out where students have difficulty in understanding.

    Remember physics problems are more than just simple algebra problems. They need some physical insight and common sense to solve.
     
  13. Jun 9, 2018 #12

    sophiecentaur

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    If you look at enough past papers, you soon realise that certain questions (in different disguises) appear very regularly. Learn how to answer those questions and to recognise the common basic patterns of the questions. You have to answer the questions on your own first - without peeking - and only look for the answers when you genuinely cannot think how to do them. I can only speak for typical UK exam questions but you need to realise that the Exam Board actually wants you to be able to answer the question and they often take you through a number of clear steps (a mark for each) towards the final answer. Use that guidance and do not try it totally on your own. That could possibly be boring but just go for the marks and don't ask why they are doing it 'that way'.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted