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How to Do Well in Physics for Better Understanding

by Sep 13, 2016Physics

Some students can easily do better in Physics. However, most students face issues when it comes to the topic. A lot of hard work and smart strategies are needed for bagging good grades in the subject. However, enough practice and learning the basic skills can help anyone to attain mastery over Physics. A better understanding is more important that obtaining a better grade.
Following these tips will help you a lot in understanding the subject.
Remember the basic constants
Mathematical constants are assigned to some forces, such as the accelerating gravitational force on Earth. It is important to keep the most common units and constants in mind, such as the following:

  • Planck’s Constant (6.63 multiplied by 10-34 Joules multiplied by seconds)
  • Avogadro’s number (6.02 multiplied by 1023 per mole)
  • Molar gas constant (8.32 Joules/ (mole multiplied by Kelvin))
  • Speed of light (3 multiplied by 108 meters/second)
  • Gravitational force on Earth (9.81 meters/second2)

Remember the basic equations
Equations describe the relationships between the various forces, which act in the Universe. While some equations are extremely simple, others are very complicated. It is vital to memorize the most basic equations and tackle the complex as well as the simple problems. Even the most confusing and complex issues can often be solved with a few important equations, such as the following:

  • Momentum = Mass multiplied by velocity
  • Power = Change in time / Change in work
  • Work = Displacement multiplied by force
  • Kinetic energy = (1/2) Mass multiplied by velocity2
  • Force = Mass multiplied by acceleration
  • Current velocity = Initial velocity + (Time multiplied by Acceleration)
  • Acceleration = Change in velocity/Change in time
  • Velocity = Change in position/Change in time

Learn the simple equation derivations
It is as important to know how every simple equation in physics is derived, as it is to memorize them. Invest some time in learning about the derivation process, in order to develop a deeper understanding.
For instance, in the equation a = Delta (v) / Delta (t) or Acceleration = Change in velocity / Change in time, Acceleration stands for the force which leads to a change in the velocity of an object. There is no instantaneous acceleration. Irrespective of the speed, an object takes some time to reach a destination in its final velocity than what it starts with at the initial velocity. Naturally, a = Delta (v) / Delta (t).
Know the math skills
Math skills are essential for solving physics problems. If you want to master the physics problems, you have to be an expert in basic math skills. You need specialized skills in mathematics, such as taking integrals and derivatives, to handle complex equations in physics. Calculus, Pre-calculus, Geometry, Trigonometry, algebra and pre-algebra are some math topics, which can assist you in completing physics problems.
Concentrate on essential information in problems
There are many crucial pieces of information in physics problems, which allow easier problem solving. You have to identify these in order to solve the problems. Write down the equations that you need for problem solving and assign every information piece to the suitable variables. Skip the information that is unnecessary, as it can confuse you.
Use appropriate units for problem solving
You have to use proper units for solving each problem. If you forget to label the answer or end up using improper units, you can end up missing the important points. If you want to get full credit for each physics problem that you handle, make sure that you use proper units to label the answer based on the information that is expressed. Some common measurement units in Physics include the following:

  • Watts (for Power)
  • Joules or kilojoules (For Work or Energy)
  • Meters/second2 (For Acceleration)
  • Meters/second or kmph at times (For Velocity)
  • Newton (For Force)
  • Grams or kilograms (Mass)

Do not skip minor details
Minor details, such as drag or friction, should not be given a miss. Generally, the problems in Physics are replications of situations in the actual world. These actually simplify how things tend to work and how the situation is made easier for general understanding. At times, this indicates that forces that can change problem outcomes รขโ‚ฌโ€œ such as Friction รขโ‚ฌโ€œ are left out willingly from the problem. However, this does not always happen. In case such minor details are left out from the problem and there is sufficient information for you to account for these in your answers, you need to include those for a proper answer.
Check your answers repeatedly

  • On an average, complex problems in physics can include anywhere between 10 and 14 mathematical calculations. You can end up with an incorrect answer in case of an error in any such calculation. If you have sufficient time, you should check the answer again at the end to ensure that every bit of your calculation adds up.
  • You will also have to use your own common sense while solving physics problems, and associate them to actual life scenarios to avoid mistakes. For instance, you cannot expect a negative result while trying to determine the momentum of any object that moves in the front direction. This is because Mass cannot be negative. Velocity is negative only when it lies in the negative direction. So, a negative result will mean that you have committed an error in the calculations at any step of the problem-solving process.

Solve as many practice questions as you can
Solving problems in Physics, similar to programming, math or writing, is a skill that involves mental faculties. It will be easier for you to become skilled in physics problem solving if you practice repeatedly. It will make a number of concepts clearer for you to understand, and even prepare you for the exams.
Do not just keep yourself restricted to physics problems in your syllabus or homework. Try to solve problems that you can find professional website or in the practice books, those assigned to you by your private tutor etc.