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Schools University Physics I - Mechanics and Heat

  1. Feb 22, 2008 #1
    Well, I'm in the first Calculus-based introductory physics course. It's my first physics course since high school in 2002. I think I'm doing fairly well. The first exam is next Thursday. I want to do the very best that I can in this course as it is laying the foundation for the road ahead. What key concepts should I focus on? What problem-solving skills should I make sure I acquire? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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  3. Feb 22, 2008 #2
    Pay close attention to the examples that you were given in lecture, it would obviously be on the exam. Make sure to do the review at the end of the section!

    Also, MIT OCW offers exams you could look through. http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/index.htm#undergrad The exams aren't tough, they mainly test your understanding of concepts.
  4. Feb 22, 2008 #3
    I do take notes of the examples given in the lecture.

    You mean the problems at the end of the chapter? There are typically between 75-100+ each chapter. Which ones should I do? Of course, I'm only going to do the odd since the answers are at the back of the book. Should I do a few from each section covered in the problems?
  5. Feb 22, 2008 #4


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    Many textbook chapters are grouped into UNITS. Often, at the end of each unit, the last chapter is a REVIEW section; it might be a chapter itself, with instruction, but it will contain exercises representing all of the topics of the unit. These review sections give you a fairly structured way to practice all of the concepts and skills which you have studied throughout the unit of chapters, and this is also a good way to prepare for your tests.
  6. Feb 22, 2008 #5
    I'm using the Fundamentals of Physics Extended, 8th Edition Halliday, Resnick.
  7. Feb 22, 2008 #6


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    Doing the problems is the best way to know if you actually understand the material you are learning. You don't have to do them all, not even the extraordinarily difficult ones at the end of the problem sections. Focus on the medium-medium/hard problems in the chapter. If you can do most of these in a reasonable amount of time you probably have a good understanding of the material. After this then maybe challenge yourself with a really hard one, but only after you are able to efficiently do the core fundamental problems and the medium level ones.
  8. Feb 22, 2008 #7
    Does it help to go over the worked-through problems in the sections of each chapter? Honestly, I was going to focus a bit of my time doing that as I re-read the chapters. Initially, I just skimmed through them to fill in some gaps, if there were any.
  9. Feb 22, 2008 #8
    What do you know? I'm TAing calculus-based physics 1 this semester; we actually had our first exam yesterday. I guess I'm in a decent position to help you out.

    As far as mechanics goes, I would focus on solving projectile motion problems, blocks on inclined planes with friction, and basic rotational kinematics. These are physicists' favorite problems for freshman-level classes, at least in my experience. Oh, and make sure you know how to do that problem where you've got a ball tethered to a rod and rotating with uniform circular motion. A lot of my students had issues with this in our exam.

    As for heat, I'm guessing you haven't gotten into that yet. But if so, let me know and I'll have a few other suggestions for you.
  10. Feb 28, 2008 #9
    Thanks for all the advice, guys. Well, I had my first exam tonight. It was over Math Review, Velocity and Acceleration, and Vectors. It wasn't too bad. I think I did all right, but we'll see on Tuesday. Work, Power, KE, PE, and Newton's Laws will be on the next exam!
  11. Feb 28, 2008 #10
    This book is the shiz-nit. I have the 7th Edition and I love it. I have been using it for the past three semesters. Whenever my teacher assigns HW, I do it and then when it comes time for an exam, I usually redo the problems that gave me trouble and select a few odd-numbered problems that 'immediately surround' those problems. Halliday organizes the problem sets by topic. Thus, by doing problems near the assigned ones gives me more versatility in solving problems that fall under those topic headings.

    And of course, post in PF when it hits the fan!
  12. Feb 28, 2008 #11
    Hey, I am also in Physics with Calculus I using Halliday/Resnick 8th edition too! Our class just finished reviewing Chapter 7 (Kinetic Energy, Work, Spring Force, etc). So far, I have made high A's on both of our tests; Test 1 (97 - chapters 01-03) and Test 2 (100 - chapters 04-07). I will tell you right now though that I primarily spend about 60% of my time reading the chapters/sections as our class progresses through. Most of my classmates usually jump straight into the homework problems in the back of the chapters without reading the material because they believe lecture is sufficient. My best advice for you is to read the chapters at a decent pace, but with great comprehension of the subject material! Great understanding of the physical concepts provides the foundation and framework for mastering the homework problems in the back along with the skills and knowledge of being able to derive other equations as a result of thorough understanding of the key concepts and their mathematical implications. I for one usually work on the 1-dot and 2-dot problems for each section when I am ready to do the end of the chapter homework problems. To further enhance my problem-solving ability, I also work on the "additional exercises" at the end of each chapter's homework section. These particular "additional exercises" really tests the different concepts without any hint as to the level of difficulty of the problem.
  13. Feb 28, 2008 #12
    Hey, man, thanks for the advice. One of my main priorities is to qualitatively understand the physics along with quantitatively being able to solve them. I do actually read the entire chapters, and I enjoy it, too. Learning new concepts or deeper insights into fairly familiar ones is exciting. I did most of the assigned Problems at the end of Chapter 2. I didn't really have any trouble with them either. I was quite pleased that I was able to knock them out without much difficulty.
  14. Feb 29, 2008 #13
    A ball tethered to a rod? That means you would have to find the moment of iniertia of the rod and the ball? It can't be that the rod is massless cos the problem would be really easy. But calculating the moment of inertia of the above system isn't too hard either. What trouble were the freshmen having?
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