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Tips for freshman taking physics ?

  1. Dec 18, 2009 #1
    Okay so, I'm a freshman in a Physics I class. I must admit, it's not the easiest thing ever and I really want to pass this class. Physics doesn't come naturally for me but most other people in my class seems to understand all the information bieng taught. I'm however mostly clueless.

    One reason is probably that i daydream alot. Physics doesn't come naturally for me like biology did. And i think physics would be alot easier if i took trig but i take geometry.. very few freshman actually take trigonometry.

    Any tips for learning this stuff?? How did you guys learn all the formulas and where and when exactly to use them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2009 #2


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    Do past problems.
    Learn the code words in questions, ie smooth slope (ignore friction), massless spring etc
    Check units, always write the units on both sides of the equation and check they balance.
    Do an order of magnitude estimate first, especially for astronomy or molecular scale problems where you have very large or small numbers in the answer
  4. Dec 18, 2009 #3
    Hm, code words(:
    i'll try to notice as many code words as possible thank you for your advice ^_^
  5. Dec 18, 2009 #4
    What specifically are you having trouble with?
  6. Dec 19, 2009 #5
    Paying attention in class and i never know what formula to use in word problems.
  7. Dec 19, 2009 #6
    Then you certainly do not understand the physics at all. Read the book, think through everything they say, picture everything happening in your head, then associate that with formulas. Then when you get a word problem picture yourself what is happening, then it gets obvious what formulas to use.
  8. Dec 19, 2009 #7
    Nobody is gonna be able to tell you the secret to physics.
  9. Dec 19, 2009 #8
    Perhaps these two things are directly related?
  10. Dec 19, 2009 #9
    Always think about what you know and you don't know. For example, if you are given the time it takes to get to the final velocity and the acceleration (the rate of velocity's change), can you find the final velocity? Before looking at those kinematic equations, think about what you would need to know before knowing the final velocity, final position..et c.
  11. Dec 19, 2009 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    It sounds like you know your trouble is paying attention. I am afraid that we can't help you much here - that's something you have to do yourself.
  12. Dec 19, 2009 #11
    ... biology comes naturally to everyone, that's the nature of definitions and facts that people just have to memorize and not really think about.
  13. Dec 20, 2009 #12
    Well that's not entirely true. People with poor memorization dont do as well in biology.


    But if you're having trouble doing word problems then it seems like you dont know the concepts.
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