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Problem-solving help

  1. Sep 23, 2012 #1
    Ok so I'm taking the SAT physics Test soon and i'm woefully unprepared!
    I've taken physics 2 times already, honors and AP, as well as reteaching it to myself, but i just don't get it. I think my problem is,whenever i see a problem, I panic. I'm ok when learning the material, if i get a few problems wrong i just move on but when i can't look at the formulas or the concepts for reference, i usually just guess. And when i finish studying the whole course I can NEVER remember any formulas of concepts i once had down pat.
    It's so weird i've always gotten math, but never physics and I want to major in it in college. Can anyone help??
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2012 #2
    Stick to fundamentals. Make sure you always use free body diagrams, and make sure that you remember that the net force on a body is equal to its mass times its acceleration. That alone will probably cover a large fraction of the problems you encounter.

    I'm sure you're pretty OK on kinematics, but you need to remember the equation for the radial acceleration of a body in circular motion: V2/R = ω2R.
  4. Sep 26, 2012 #3
    First, do not panic. You need to get a good night's sleep and have a proper breakfast.

    Remember, it takes time to think. Look at the material, then look away and say to yourself, "Think of nothing". Then look back at the work.

    Do one step at a time. First, find what is the problem. Then read given statement, and define variables. Recall what theory is needed. This theory will give you equation(s) for the variables. Write the equations, check units (meters, sec, etc.), simplify, and solve.

    Your job is to get started. Your panic is because you want to see the end, which you cannot. You only know how to get started. See Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better as an example of books you can read to help you.
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