Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Physics Woes

  1. Jan 30, 2004 #1
    Hello all,

    I recently discovered these forums and I am amazed at how much endless info you have in this joint

    This isn't a typical "Help me solve this kinetic energy problem" question, but rather my overall frustration with the subject.

    I've always excelled in Math, it has been my best subject since I was a kid, and I've recieved As in the subject from grade 1 up to this day in college. Up until the point when I took physics in High School, my mind had been molded into thinking that physics was yet just another math course. I was wrong. In the AP Physics class, I'd slack a bit, assuming it would all be cake. Afterall, I never had to do much studying in math. I was wrong again--I finished the semester with a C+. Then when I actually did buckle down and started working, I found myself annoyed not being able to answer all the answers. Sure, I could answer the easy ones, but not the dreaded "RED" questions. I finished the semester with a B+. Sigh

    I'm now an undergrad majoring in Math and Economics. Unfortunately( or fortunately) I have to take physics again. If any class, this one has the potential to hurt my perfect GPA. Perfectionist, you may say, but that's how I go about doing things.

    Do I take the wrong approach? Is it better to learn this subject for the sake of learning it, as opposed to getting a high grade?

    Or maybe I'm too systematic and rely too much on formulas rather than understanding the concept. I don't know

    Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The most common mistake made my beginning physics students is to assume it's just easy math.

    It's quite true that the math is usually pretty easy, and it's not what makes physics challenging. To do well in physics, you need to have a deeper understanding of exactly what you're doing when you apply a formula. You need to have physical intuition, and already have the form of the answer in mind before you even put your pencil to the paper. If you look at a problem, and have absolutely no idea what the answer will probably be, you will not do well in physics.

    So how do you develop physical intuition? By paying careful attention, thinking before you leap, and doing lots of sample problems. Practice!

    - Warren
  4. Jan 31, 2004 #3
    Relying on formulas is like putting crutches on your brain. It is much better for you to stop worrying about the grades and the memorization and focus on really understanding the subject. Anyone can take and pass a class, but it takes some real gusto to actually learn and understand the material.

    If you really are the "perfectionist" you claim to be, practice and develop an intuition for physical situations and you will be setting yourself up for the grade and for future success....
    Boy that sounded after-school-specialish...

    *goes away to reflect on what his life has become*
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook