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Physics/chemistry kicking my butt

  1. Feb 21, 2015 #1
    Hi guys, first year computer engineering student here. I am looking for advice to ace physics/chemistry classes that I have to take. Last semester, I did poorly in statics (class average, got a B-) despite spending the majority of my time doing practice problems/studying for this class. (didnt study at all for programming, linear algebra, calculus 1, and aced it) Now I'm taking dynamics, calculus 2, an engineering design course, thermodynamics, material sciences, and intro to electricity (starting circuit analysis this monday)

    So far I've gotten high 60's on these midterms (haven't taken dynamics yet). Even though I spend all my time doing practice problems, my ass is still being kicked.

    Most of the school is coming from another country (China) and they have taken classes like calc1/2/3 before- yet for some reason, despite spending 0% of my time studying for calculus 1/2, linear algebra, I got high 90's in them, and finished them in nearly 1/3rd of the time required. The math is easy because it is very logical. We literally have no formulas to memorize, and it is more theoretical math. (I.e. there are different math courses, the math class we have to take is as hard as the math specialist courses)

    I find it weird that I'm able to effortlessly ace math classes and coding classes, yet struggle with physics despite spending all of my free time studying this topic.

    It takes me a long time to do physics practice problems, (probably 20 minutes for the harder problems in my book) and we are not allowed to use formula sheets on tests, despite having over 100 formulas in courses like electricity.

    A lot of stuff in physics seems to not make sense and contradict itself, plus it seems like they just make things up as they go along.

    I was able to get high 90's in high school physics just by looking at the units and doing calculations until they cancel out... unfortunately this no longer applies to university engineering

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

    It is painful to me when the class average in physics is 70-80% (they will probably murder us all with the final :( to maintain their beloved 60% class average) and my marks are lower than this (high 60s, low 70s). Oddly enough, the math classes have averages of high 50's, low 60s' and I'm straight up acing them without any effort
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2015 #2
    It's hard to offer suggestions in general as opposed to on specific topics. What were some of the things that you struggle with? Do you have a problem setting up problems, or working through the math after you set them up? If you see some aspects of physics as contradictory, it's likely that you suffer from some fundamental misunderstandings. What is something that you see as contradictory?
  4. Feb 22, 2015 #3
    Probably difficulty setting up a problem or understanding what information the question is giving me/how to apply it. As for contradictions, I've seen professors solve relative motion problems using F=ma using non-inertial reference frames. But apparently you can't do this, or you can do this, or something.

    Not only that, in engineering formulas are thrown at you. They don't care about derivations/understanding anything, as long as you solve the problem.

    It's also really weird how when you're using conservation of energy equations. For example, things like this: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/treating-multiple-objects-as-the-same-system.798710/
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