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Great Physics Study Skills

Updated on February 28, 2013

Don't worry if you're struggling with physics. You're not dumb or lesser. Don't be intimidated around you by the people who seem to just "get it". Listen to me, studying physics takes a lot of hard work. It takes time. Patience is key to succeeding in your physics course. If you really want to do well and know your physics like the back of your hand, incorporate these skills when studying.

Review and strengthen your math

Physics is the language of math. All those times that you asked your math teacher "how is this useful in real life", now you have your answer. Physics. Figure out what math you need for your physics course. Depending on the course you might need a good handle on calculus. You should also work on strengthening your algebra and trigonometry. I recommend the Schaum's Outline Series to help you strengthen your foundations of math. This series is great because they're easy to read, are short and have tons of chapter problems for you to try out (with the answers!).

Again with the Schaums!

Schaum's- my wonderful, wonderful friend. Schaum's covers lots of areas of physics and can really help you grasp the material. I would actually recommend going to Schaum's first when studying a topic. Then go to your textbook. By doing this, you'll reinforce the material in your brain better. Schaum's will also make it easier for you to comprehend and grasp your physics textbook, which, right now, may seem like it's hieroglyphics.

Do it before class

Above, I mention that you should read the Schaum's first, then your physics textbook because it makes it easier to understand your physics textbook. I didn't mention that you should do BOTH of these things BEFORE class. Then review the Schaum's after (lightly) and study your notes. This will help to imprint the material in your mind.

Do this sooner rather than later. Our minds do this sort of background thinking. So when you're done studying physics, your mind will be working on understanding the material in the background.

Problem after problem after problem after..

Do tons of problems. Practice them. Determine what principals you have to look at and understand to carry our the problem. See what the relevant equations are. Manipulate them. Simplify the problem into one equation if you can. Physics is about making things simpler (believe it or not!)


Look on amazon for a third text

The more text you look at, the better. However, 3 is a sweet number of texts to use when studying the material (at a college level).

Why is relying on one text a bad thing?

The answer is easy. Simply because one text isn't going to give you a total view of what the physics is about. Each text takes on a littler bit of a different perspective, providing you with new ways to look and think about things as well as covering some key points one text may miss. You should read this text at the end of every week, reviewing the concepts you've covered in class.

Focus in class

Don't be mindlessly taking notes, nodding at everything your teacher or professor is saying. Really submerse yourself in the material. Be engaged. If you're not a very outspoken person (and that's okay), when the professor or teacher asks the class some question, try to answer it in your head. Any problems done in class, you should try doing it by yourself while the teacher is working it out on the board. Don't just mindlessly copy.

Draw a diagram

For every single problem you do, draw a diagram of what's happening. This helps you to visualize the problem at hand and to better see what concepts might be playing a role in the problem

Attend every class

Do not mistakenly thing you can get away with skipping classes and be able to catch up. It's okay to miss one or two for whatever reason. However, if you miss more- you really are compromising your understanding of physics, as well as, the grade you will receive.

Make it a habit to continually re-read your notes

When you're studying notes that you've recently taken, go back and review your old notes real quick. Doing this will help some of the concepts stay fresh in your memory. It will also make studying for cumulative exams easier.

Re-study your notes 8 hours later of the same day you took them

So, I told you so far to

  1. Read Schaum's
  2. Read Textbook
  3. Go to class, take notes
  4. Skim Schaum's Again

8 hours later, after you've taken your notes- study your notes AGAIN. Most of the material you took notes on, you will have already forgotten 8 hours later. By practicing this technique, it will help to keep the information in your head longer.


Don't be discouraged and learn your love for physics

Physics is a beautiful thing. People often hate things which they do not understand. A victory in physics is sweet, however. You learn tough material, teach it to yourself, practice problems and work hard- and you get a higher understanding of how the world works as well as receive high grades.


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    Cathy Nerujen 3 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

    What a great hub on Physics. This deserves far more comments. I always enjoyed science at school. These are great study tips for getting good grades in Physics.