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How to study physics?

  1. Sep 1, 2015 #1
    Hello,

    Is there a proper way to study physics? Such as: 2-4 hours of daily study, specific youtubers I should subscribe to, etc...

    My college allows a maximum of 2 hours a week of physics tutoring. I take advantage of that, but we typically cover 3 problem in each 1 hour meeting. Which is not sufficient for me. I do the homework but I struggle with it.

    I'm taking College physics 151 with no prior experience. What do you recommend?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2015 #2

    Geofleur

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    Once you have seen the solution to an example problem, try to talk yourself through it without looking at the answer. When you get stuck, when you really feel your stuckness, go back and look at the answer. Repeat. Once you can talk yourself through the problem and get the right answer without looking, change one small thing about the problem and try to work that. Think of ways to check the reasonableness of your answer. Are the units right? What happens when you increase x in the problem, does what the answer does physically make sense?

    As far as internet resources, lots of people have found Kahn academy useful.
     
  4. Sep 1, 2015 #3

    Geofleur

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    I should also add: When you are working on a problem from the book, you may not be able to solve it in one sitting. Sometimes problems have to simmer awhile in your head. You have to keep thinking about them. Be persistent, and don't get discouraged when the answer doesn't come right away.
     
  5. Sep 1, 2015 #4

    symbolipoint

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    A good professor for your first calculus-based Physics will provide important advice for how to study and how to solve exercise problems. Most typically, review and remind yourself, formally ON YOUR work , the relevant mathematical relationships and physical laws (as their formulas), make precise diagrams and labeled figures, and very important: TRUST YOUR ALGEBRA!

    You will probably need to read parts of your book chapters and sections several times in order to understand.
    Another important thing to do is try to solve the book's examples yourself, before looking further at the solution process.
     
  6. Sep 2, 2015 #5

    ZapperZ

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    You need to do some self-diagnosis, i.e. figure out where and why you are struggling. Providing you with more sources may not be effective if the problem is more fundamental.

    Actually, I think that something I wrote earlier to address on why we insist students should show attempts at solving a problem BEFORE seeking help might be useful for you to read. This essay addressed several distinct stages in solving a physics problem, and it might be useful for you to check through each step to figure out where you often get stuck. At the very least, it might tell you if you have problem with (i) figure out if you don't know the basic concept involved (ii) how to translate the physics concept to apply to a particular problem, or (iii) how to use the math.

    http://physicsandphysicists.blogspot.com/2013/12/i-dont-know-wherehow-to-start.html

    Rhett Allain has also written an article on what it means to study and understand physics.

    http://www.wired.com/2014/10/just-dont-understand-physics-midterm-advice-students/

    Zz.
     
  7. Sep 5, 2015 #6
    Thanks, I appreciate all the opinions. ZapperZ, translating the physics concept to apply to a particular problem is an issue for me.
     
  8. Sep 5, 2015 #7

    ZapperZ

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    Then your problem is more fundamental, because, really, this IS the physics, and HW problems and exams test you on your ability to do this. Without being able to use a physics concept and applying it to a problem, you really have not understood the concept, or may only have a superficial understanding of it (the general public has this type of understanding).

    I strongly suggest you look at one of the links I gave on my blog, i.e. this one:

    http://electron9.phys.utk.edu/phys513/Modules/module2/problems2.htm

    You may want to go over the way each problem is broken down into various parts, especially in the beginning (which is where almost ALL of the physics is) where the concepts and the reasoning are presented. I strongly suggest you start tackling all of your HW and school problems via this technique. If you find that you are often stuck at this very beginning steps, then you haven't understood the physics concepts taught to you in class and in your text. You must do something quickly to remedy this.

    Zz.
     
  9. Sep 5, 2015 #8
    Thanks Zz.
     
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