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Studying Studying with solutions?

  1. Sep 24, 2010 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm wondering how you study. What is the best way to study.

    Lately I have been doing problems, checking the answer in the back of the book, and then checking in the teacher's solutions manual (I got it online) if I really can't solve it.

    But I'm only doing this for review, using the Fundamentals of physics book. In my upcomming classes we aren't assigned a text book. I have tried to start with the alonso and Finn book, because It's a bit more rigorous, but I can't solve all the problems, and find it counter productive to spend an hour thinking about a problem just to walk away from it defeated without getting the final answer.

    Does anyone have a solutions manual to the [removed] book, or better yet, some sugestions of how to study more productively?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2010 #2
    I am not aware of any solutions manual for the [removed] book so far. It's kind of frustrating how sometimes you're trying to solve a problem there, and not even the answer is provided. What you could also do (if you're searching for more rigorous problems) is just doing over and over again the problems already done in class. (I sometimes do the same problem about 5 times in different days, making sure that I will know how to deal with a similar problem anytime.)
    But anyway, I find Halliday problems (of lvl max) quite rigorous. This past semester I studied with that one, Alonso's, and specially the homework problems.

    Also, about methods of studying, I think you would agree that group studying is not the way to go xD at least for us. So, I think it's better that when one has spent too much of time with one problem, the best thing to do is to just check for answer/solutions and then once you have understood it fully, doing the problem again some other day wouldn't kill you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2010
  4. Sep 24, 2010 #3
    It's more productive to encounter a problem you can't do. If you can do a problem then you don't really need to do it, because *obviously* you can do it! All it gives you is feedback that you can actually do it, which leads to a nice warm glow.

    But problems you can't do should give you an even better feeling! That you feel frustrated on failing to solve a problem is because you think that you *should* be able to solve it. But why do you think that? Maybe you were day dreaming when the professor introduced a mathematical technique. You may have forgotten a physical law that was covered last month... whatever... Most worryingly, perhaps, you may suspect that you are too stupid to do this kind of thing - but given your problem solving success with "Fundamentals", then this is probably not your problem... But, anyway, none of this should frustrate you! It should challenge you. So *first* change your attitude... Done that? Yes? OK *now* you are enjoying the challenge you might need some tips for engaging with the challenge...

    You did well in trying hard at the problem for an hour... that sounds about right... longer and you're not wrestling for long enough, longer and you will just get worn out. You could try sleeping on it. Or, if it's morning, head down to the library and bookshops and to check out similar *solved* problems in similar textbooks. If one book is truly helpful then buy or borrow it - it might be some help again! Schaum books are very good, they are full of solved problems, you're almost bound to find something similar, and they're inexpensive. But sometimes more background will help, maybe you really need to get to understand a physical principle better - Feynman's lectures on physics, are a key text here, but try reading different books to see which really helps *you* to understand the subject. Maybe even Wikipedia could help...

    Still can't do the problem? Talk to others in the class about it. Especially try and engage with the best students in class. Even you and the brightest kids in class can't do it? Now it's time to track down staff. They're in hiding? Post a question here!
  5. Sep 24, 2010 #4
    Yeah, I think this often. Fundamentals of physics is fairly far behind us. And we're definitely at a level above that. And I'm only now able to do the fundamentals questions. My education was less than perfect before, and a lot of what I'm doing right now is catch up. So if I can't get a problem I feel like I'm behind...

    But thank you both for your suggestions. I think that during the semester I more or less do what both of you suggested. But right now It doesn't work that way, because I'm just studying for myself as review. So I have no one else about the problems with. That's why it's good to have a solutions manual.

    But now my biggest problem in General is setting up integrations. I have a hard time trying to designate what is the differential, and what variables should be written in terms of the others. I usually end up with integrals that are practically impossible to solve. This kind of thing the fundamentals of physics book is not good for, it doesn't have very many integration problems, and of those it has, they're very elementary. But when I try questions on my own of higher books, I usually can't find my mistakes..... frustrating

    I just hate leaving problems because you don't take anything from it.
    If you struggle for a few hours, then get the answer. You'll never forget that concept, or method or whatever. But if you struggle for a few hours, and walk away empty handed- it's the worst feeling ever. You've just wasted your time.
  6. Sep 24, 2010 #5
    If you're stuck on a problem, only look at the first couple steps of the solution, and then try figuring it out from there. Always give yourself time to think over the problem and don't just rush to the solution manual if you can't get it in under 30 seconds.
  7. Sep 24, 2010 #6
    Yeah, the problem is when I have no solutions manual.

    Like right now, I just tried a problem. I looked it up in the back to check my answer and I'm way off. I mean like, not just by a factor or something, but something went wrong. the answer in the back has imaginary units in it, showing that they did something obviously completely different from me that I just don't understand. But I have no idea what that was, so now I just have to walk away from this problem. And once again I've just wasted another hour or so of my time....
  8. Sep 24, 2010 #7
    Oh yeah, I see. Then that's another kind of issue. In this case, you could just do what mal4mac said before; if it's something about the method to solve it, you can just take a look at similar examples, or if you're working with [removed], I'm sure you can find the typical example on how to deal with this sort of problem and get the solution in complex numbers.
    But if you're struggling with this particular problem, at this point it's maybe because there isn't any similar example in the A&F chapter, right? hmm In this case, I would start seeking for something alike that problem in the internet. Google is your friend, mate.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2010
  9. Sep 24, 2010 #8
    Yeah I found the answer just doing random googling. But it's still messed up. The alonso answer has an exctra i (imaginary unit). I have no clue why. Also, they definitely did something different, because they solved the second part first, and then worked backwards from that. I'd just like to see how they did it, because even though I ended up getting the right answer ( I think) I'm sure they got their answer with other methods that could be useful in the future
  10. Sep 24, 2010 #9
    1. schaum's outlines
    2. ????
    3. profit

    (southpark, anybody?)
  11. Sep 25, 2010 #10
    Schaums are good. But kind of basic.
    I mean, how do people study in Grad school? There's no schaums for that. Is it just that if you make it to grad school, then you don't really need to study? I don't think this is the case (not for everyone).

  12. Sep 25, 2010 #11
    Lol, the profit thing is just the joke about the underpants gnomes (again you'd have to have seen the southpark episode to get it).

    I wouldn't studying only from a schaum's especially at grad school but I think the general idea of having a reference book with solved problems is a good one, I've seen higher level books at the Phd qualifying test level with lots of solved problems for EM, mechanics, thermo, and quantum I think from university of Chicago and Princeton; that might be an option when one's level is raised to that of grad school.
  13. Sep 25, 2010 #12
    The university library, looked at from one angle, is one big (rather disorganised) Schaums for any level (and free!) So if you are stuck on a problem, graduate or otherwise, look through all the books on the shelf relating to the problem until you find a solution, or in-depth discussion, that gets you over the hurdle. Found nothing? Have a chat with a friendly librarian to see if they can help you turn something up. Still nothing? Try Amazon Look Inside or Google Books. Still nothing? Start Googling university web sites, or post here.

    If "the [removed] answer has an extra i" then, if you are pretty certain you have the right answer, consider that it might be a misprint. Check the publishers web site for a list of errata. Or look in a more recent edition. What problem was it *exactly*? Get someone else to work it out and see if they can come up with the same answer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2010
  14. Sep 26, 2010 #13

    oh cool. Generally I'm looking for a Shaum's book, or something similar, that can help me practice integration, differential equations, and vector calculus in relation to physics. So far the shaums I've found are only elementary calculus lever. but perhaps I'm just not looking hard enough.

    As for what you said Mal4mac, I agree with all of those things. But when I'm just doing self study I can't really go for a research project every 2nd or 3rd question. It's just too impractical and frustrating. I think maybe that good students don't need to spend that much time on problems.
  15. Sep 26, 2010 #14
    there's schaum's for almost anything, you can get advanced mathematics for scientists and engineers, differential equations, and vector analysis on amazon.com, just type in those names with schaums
  16. Sep 26, 2010 #15
    Yeah cool, I tried that and I think I found something good. I also found "mathematical methods for physicits" and a solution manual for it. Thanks for the hlep.
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