Surviving Physics

Kevin Yang/ION

Physics is difficult: There is no reason to make this subject light or sugar coat it. Simply put, there are people who are able to instantly understand physics and then there are the other 95% of the people struggling to figure out what the professor just said. Now, I’m not saying physics is impossible. Nothing is impossible with a bit of faith and determination. However, success in this subject will take work. It will take a lot of work.  “What should I do to become victorious over physics?” one asks. Buckle up boys and girls; here is your crash course on surviving physics.

On paper, it all sounds easy. Simply put: One must read, one must do work problems, and one must ask questions.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen, that is how one succeeds in Physics. No one will follow this though. So what’s next? First off, READ. If anything, read the summary at the end of the chapters. The physics book does a good job in making something seemingly impossible to understand comprehensible.  Plus, Weathers, and the other physics professors, follow along with the book very well. There is no feeling of “I don’t remember this from class” when reading the book.

Secondly, do your homework. Just do it. Yes, the homework is hard; and yes, there are resources to use that may expedite the process –  but not fully committing yourself to doing the homework only hurts you because working through the problems is how physics begins to make sense. The UT physics homework system has a good reputation of delivering quality questions to give you practice (it’s not perfect though, there are some wacky questions every now and then.)

And finally, if you don’t know what you’re doing, find someone who does. The first airplane wasn’t built alone. Don’t think you’re the lone wolf who can handle it all by yourself. Google your question, read the book again, ask a friend or the professor. Find some way to go from “Whaaat???” to “Ohhhh. I gotcha!”

There you go, children. Physics doesn’t sound that bad, now does it? In fact, physics can be fun. You will see some pretty cool experiments in the classroom. The world is just plain awesome and it is pretty neat knowing how this or that works. Stay well and get to reading, everyone.

A final note, the golden secret to physics is that it’s all about setting up the problem. Everyone can do simple algebra, figuring out what to do with a question is the hardest part. The solution: Work more problems. More experience with problems equals a better understanding of what a question will be asking and how to quickly/efficiently solve similar problems.

Article by Jared Norton ’11
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  • RocketMan says:

    If I could add one more thing about physics, it’s that the homework problems are not going to be directly on the exam. The homework will be A -> B -> C and B -> D. The exam will test you on A -> D, without letting you know that you’ve done a similar problem. So when doing the homework, the most important thing is HOW to solve the problem, not the solution.

  • Tory says:

    That’s the smart thinking we could all beefint from.

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