Recommendations for 1st year E&M practice/exercises

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In summary: It wouldn't hurt to let the lecturer know what you said here—that you feel the homework isn't preparing you adequately for the exams.
  • #1
Currently in 1st year (UK) going through E&M right now, the recommended textbook is University Physics by S&Z. Recently had my-mid term test and got 40%.

The problem is I’m overestimating my ability as the exercises in UP are not challenging at all, the majority of them are just plugging in numbers. Whereas our lecturers problems are much more difficult, they focus more on relationships, derivations and mathematical ability. We don’t need a calculator for any of these whereas almost all of UP exercises do. So they are completely different. The limited practice questions in tutorials aren’t hacking it, and there also are only a couple of past papers - I assume due to the lecturer being fairly new and having only uploaded past papers written by herself.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking of doing the problems in Griffiths as its highly recommended, but its not for first year E&M..

Cheers
 
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  • #2
If you struggle with UP, then going onto electrodynamics isn't going to help at all.

Many of the exercises in UP are pretty computational, but there are more challenging ones amongst them. They are labelled with stars I believe. If you can solve all the three star problems and the challenge problems correctly, you should be in good shape.

You could try Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway. I have both because I like having an abundance of practice problems. Alternatively, Matter and Interactions looks interesting, but I have not used it myself.
 
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  • #3
Another thing you could do is ask the instructor what you can work on to be better prepared. There may be some exceptions, but I think most profs will appreciate that you show an interest to improve.
 
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  • #4
Mondayman said:
If you struggle with UP, then going onto electrodynamics isn't going to help at all.

Many of the exercises in UP are pretty computational, but there are more challenging ones amongst them. They are labelled with stars I believe. If you can solve all the three star problems and the challenge problems correctly, you should be in good shape.

You could try Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway. I have both because I like having an abundance of practice problems. Alternatively, Matter and Interactions looks interesting, but I have not used it myself.
No that’s the issue, UP are far too easy in comparison to the questions we are given by our professor. I‘ll have a look at both of them, cheers.
 
  • #5
I looked at my bookshelf and forgot to mention one more. Early editions of Physics by Halliday-Resnick-Krane (not Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday-Resnick-Walker). I have the 4th edition. The problems are much better than the later, watered down editions.

Also, MIT has free online courses for E&M. This one has an online textbook that is pretty good.

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02-physics-ii-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2007/pages/syllabus/

Two more:

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02t-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2005/pages/syllabus/

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02x-p...xperimental-focus-spring-2005/pages/syllabus/

You can use their problem sets to supplement UP.
 
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  • #6
It might also help to derive (on your own) all the results that are derived in the text. Hopefully, you'll see how it's the same principles being applied over and over and perhaps learn a little math along the way. It'll definitely get you away from the "find the right formula" mindset that students often get from doing homework problems.

It wouldn't hurt to let the lecturer know what you said here—that you feel the homework isn't preparing you adequately for the exams. If the entire class didn't do well, she may have an idea that there's a problem, but your specific observation may help her better prepare the class for future exams.
 
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  • #7
Mondayman said:
I have the 4th edition. The problems are much better than the later, watered down editions.
Do you mean that the 4th edition of HRK has better problems than the 5th (current) edition of HRK? Or do you mean that the 4th edition of HRK has better problems than the 12th (current) edition of HRW?
 
  • #8
Muu9 said:
Do you mean that the 4th edition of HRK has better problems than the 5th (current) edition of HRK? Or do you mean that the 4th edition of HRK has better problems than the 12th (current) edition of HRW?
I haven't seen every edition of "Physics" by HRK, only the 3rd and 4th. I find them both to be superior to "Fundamentals of Phyics" by HRW. I'm sure the 5th is as well.
 
  • #9
scottdave said:
Another thing you could do is ask the instructor what you can work on to be better prepared. There may be some exceptions, but I think most profs will appreciate that you show an interest to improve.
vela said:
It might also help to derive (on your own) all the results that are derived in the text. Hopefully, you'll see how it's the same principles being applied over and over and perhaps learn a little math along the way. It'll definitely get you away from the "find the right formula" mindset that students often get from doing homework problems.

It wouldn't hurt to let the lecturer know what you said here—that you feel the homework isn't preparing you adequately for the exams. If the entire class didn't do well, she may have an idea that there's a problem, but your specific observation may help her better prepare the class for future exams.
Great, appreciate the advice, thanks! I’ll arrange a time with her and see what she says.
Mondayman said:
I looked at my bookshelf and forgot to mention one more. Early editions of Physics by Halliday-Resnick-Krane (not Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday-Resnick-Walker). I have the 4th edition. The problems are much better than the later, watered down editions.

Also, MIT has free online courses for E&M. This one has an online textbook that is pretty good.

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02-physics-ii-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2007/pages/syllabus/

Two more:

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02t-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2005/pages/syllabus/

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/8-02x-p...xperimental-focus-spring-2005/pages/syllabus/

You can use their problem sets to supplement UP.
Perfect, cheers!
 
  • #10
notgoodatphysics said:
No that’s the issue, UP are far too easy in comparison to the questions we are given by our professor. I‘ll have a look at both of them, cheers.

Could you give some specific examples of these [exam?] questions,
as well as the practice problems?
 
  • #11
notgoodatphysics said:
Currently in 1st year (UK) going through E&M right now, the recommended textbook is University Physics by S&Z. Recently had my-mid term test and got 40%.

The problem is I’m overestimating my ability as the exercises in UP are not challenging at all, the majority of them are just plugging in numbers. Whereas our lecturers problems are much more difficult, they focus more on relationships, derivations and mathematical ability. We don’t need a calculator for any of these whereas almost all of UP exercises do. So they are completely different. The limited practice questions in tutorials aren’t hacking it, and there also are only a couple of past papers - I assume due to the lecturer being fairly new and having only uploaded past papers written by herself.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking of doing the problems in Griffiths as its highly recommended, but its not for first year E&M..

Cheers
In general, the problems from run of mill intro physics books are very similar. There are exceptions such as Alonso and Finn, Shankar's intro books, and Purcell to name a few.

Are you doing as many physics problems without looking at solutions? Are you able to derive the formulas used? Are you understanding the actual physics and not just symbol pushing? Are you trying to rote memorize, instead of conceptual understanding?

Many students fall into the trap believing exams should be exactly like hw problems, so maybe your instructor exam depends on mastering the hw problems, and using that understanding to learn something new. Have you gone to office hours?

That S&Z book is decent. Post the exam, so we are able to better advice you.
 

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