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

Studying Studying for physics

  1. Nov 29, 2008 #1
    i don't know what's wrong with me, but i almost always completely understand a problem once i see its solution, but without the solution, i don't get very far with it. has anybody else had this problem? if so, what do you recommend?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I've seen this many times. It means, I'm afraid, that you don't really understand the material. Following someone else's solution is not the same as understanding it yourself, just like watching other people exercise won't make you stronger.

    The thing to do is to work more problems. If you don't know where to start, work a series of easier problems until you have them down cold. Then go back to the problem that is giving you trouble. If your textbook doesn't have enough problems (and it may not), get them from another text on the same subject.
  4. Nov 29, 2008 #3
    I'm not so sure about that. The hardest problems are the ones where you completely understand what's going on, but you just can't see the trick to solve it. In that case you just have to keep banging your head against the wall and attacking the problem from all angles until it concedes.
  5. Nov 29, 2008 #4

    I have the same problem!!

  6. Nov 29, 2008 #5
    thanks all for your input.
    maze, i agree with you there, after looking at the solution i always think duh...thats so obvious,why didn't i think of that. I also agree Vanadium because i guess if i truly understand the material, I'd know exactly what angle to attack the problem from.

    i welcome any other opinions concerning this
  7. Nov 30, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I recommend you to do the maximum number of exercises you can without giving up early. If you're really stuck on a problem, post it here in the homework section. Helpers will lead you into the right direction without giving you the answer and you should be able to solve the problem almost by yourself.
    For me very hard exercises are exercises I don't understand what's going on. When I can't imagine the problem... for example problems related to the rigid body. Sometimes I don't know how will evolves the system, so I really have to imagine the situation and "guess" how the masses will move. Sometimes I must ask to someone else what's going on and from it I try to solve the problem which generally is not that easy for me. And looking at the answer won't help me in most cases. (unless the problem is obvious and I didn't succeed in solving it).
    So do a lot of exercises and you'll realize that many are of the same kind. You should be able to solve almost every kind of problems after a good training which implies doing well at exams.:smile:
  8. Nov 30, 2008 #7

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    My sainted physics 101 professor (RIP) had a sign in his office that read:
    "I really understand the material. I just can't do the problems."
    A refrain heard all too many times.

    As Vanadium 50 advised, the solution is to seek out and solve as many problems as possible. Beware the crutch of prematurely "peeking at the solution"--it's very easy to delude yourself into thinking you understand something when you don't. Only if you struggle on your own will you develop the confidence to solve problems.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook