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College Physics Tips and Cheat Sheets

Updated on July 21, 2012
crabnebula | Source

How to Improve

Introductory college physics can be tough- but, it doesn't have to be. I've heard my fellow physics buddies complain that they just don't know how to go about even beginning a problem, because they are often overwhelmed. But there are a few things you should know.

  1. In order to tackle the problems, you need to read the chapters: and you need to read and study the chapters more and more as the topics increase in complexity.
  2. It takes work- a lot of hard work. (Even the professors worked their butts off in their undergrad days!): this stuff is not going to come to you overnight. Or over a day. Or just by reading the chapters once. Study them. It's satisfying to be able to tackle a problem, once you have the background needed.
  3. Once you get the background, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
  4. You have to be a little creative with your problem solving. There are things you have to do with problems, that you may have not thought of to do at first- but once you see more and more, you pick up some stuff.
  5. Be inspired: really. Physics is beautiful.
  6. DRAW A FREAKIN' PICTURE: don't be lazy, and just draw it. Simple, and careless mistakes can be avoided this way.
  7. Solve the equation for the unknown you're looking for: why? why not just sub in numbers? I use to do that, but I found that with trickier questions, I needed to have that equation for the unknown solved for, so I could sub it into a different equation.

I find it best to have secondary book, like Schaum's Outlines, in both math and physics, because there will be gaps in the books, and different problems. Halliday's book though, is probably the best college physics textbook out there, have no doubt.

When you solve a problem:

When you are practicing some problems, write your givens out on the side and look for appropriate equations. Read the problem in steps, because taking it all in at once IS overwhelming- it's not just you!

Also, I find it best to keep an outline that you made by you, when solving these problems. This will help you get those "aha!" moments.

Use and to help you on problems you get stuck on- if you're spending more than a half an hour on a problem, just to get started, get help! Ask you professors too! They want you to do well- they will NOT think any less of you. They do NOT expect this material to automatically click after hearing one lecture on it.

*When you are testing, your problem solving has to be more efficient; so you may not be able to list out all your givens for every problem- only the tough ones.


See??? Physics can be fun.. even Einstein thinks so!
See??? Physics can be fun.. even Einstein thinks so! | Source

I used two resources, when working on problems: Fundamentals of Physics, Halliday 9E and Schaum's Outlines: Physics for Engineering and Science, 2E.

I will start briefing you on physics concepts, to use as your study guide, general info or whatever. (Give me time!)

Links to the concepts will be updated on this hub- so be sure to stop by! :)

If you have any questions or need some homework help, drop a line!


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