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Aceing General Physics

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by JulianCrane, Aug 7, 2002.

  1. JulianCrane

    JulianCrane The Power of Intention 10+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2001
    How does one accomplish this? Is the material harder or easier than orgo? How would you recommend studying for it? :)
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  3. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat 7+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Talk about an open-ended question...

    Make sure you understand the concepts. Don't just memorize equations. You should be able to explain everything in words to your best friend -- that is a sign that you have mastered the material.

    I thought physics was easy. Nothing to stress about anyhow.
  4. Wahoo07

    Wahoo07 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    I agree with Diogenes. Just cramming and spitting out formulae is insufficient. You might be able to get a C just plugging and chugging away, but to get a good grade you really do need to understand the stuff. And I felt that some parts of physics were easier than others. For me, mechanics and atomic physics were easy but I was relatively clueless at electricity and magnetism. It just takes some practice though.
  5. Noeljan

    Noeljan Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 23, 2002
    REALLY REALLY pay attention during lectures. Don't think you can just miss themand plug in numbers. That is where so many people go wrong(as told by my prof.) too many smart people think they can take physics with the notion that they just have to plug in some numbers to equations. Well if you don't understand concepts then you wont know what equations to use. Try to imagine the actual questions from homeworks in the book, and do the homeworks for practice. If you don't understand something bring the question to recitation. Good luck. Oh and undertsnad the demonstartions.
  6. smilez428

    smilez428 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    New Jersey
    i agree with everyone here- don't just memorize! if you understand the concepts, you'll be sure to do much better. if you're allowed to use a formula sheet though, make sure you don't leave out important formulas- b/c if you freeze on an exam and forget a formula that you know the concept for- you'll be in trouble!
    i found that physics was slightly harder than orgo for me, maybe it was just because I didn't like the material as much. :) Definitely learn the concepts now, so that you just have to review them for the MCAT. If there's something you don't understand (torque really did me in!) GET HELP! :)

    good luck! :)
  7. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Kansas City
    I don't really agree with everyone here. It is a good idea to learn the general concept (especially standard Newtonian physics), but you will cover many different topics, and it's almost impossible to keep all those ideas in your head. I think you should learn the equations. Know what each symbol stands for... for example: F=QVB You should know that F=force, Q=charge of moving particle, etc.

    If you know what each part is, then you look for what the problem gives you and substitute in. Unfortunately, that is what Physics is all about... they give you as little information as they can in order for you to be able to solve an equation. Get to know those equations... and if you don't have a cumulative final you can brain dump after each class!

    Overall, I think it is easier then Organic. Good luck!
  8. wgu

    wgu Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2002
    I use the same main strategy for orgo, in physics: do a lot of practice problems, discuss them w/ serious-minded peers, and double-check w/ someone smart, a TA, or the prof.
  9. Bikini Princess

    Bikini Princess 7+ Year Member

    May 26, 2002
    i think i agree with kirk - the equation tells you what you need to know, if you understand the symbols.
  10. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat 7+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    But that's the problem. Not just understanding every symbol, but knowing the difference between re-used symbols -- like "E" or "p". And even if you know what every symbol means in every equation, many a physics student has bombed a test (so I've heard) because they used a formula when it did not apply to the question at hand.

    I think if you can explain the problem and how to arrive at the solution to a person who isn't taking physics -- without just using equations -- that is a sign you understand the material and have mastered it.
  11. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lactate > 15
    Doing well in general physics is all about being able to solve problems. If you have a knack for puzzles, you should do fine. If not, you'll just have to work harder! I have tutored Gen Phys and here are some tips (these work best for mechanics, but once you get good at doing problems you can extrapolate to the hard stuff):

    Problems Problems Problems. Do as many as you can. Do them even if they are not assigned. Working in a small group can help. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

    Know your formulas! You don't have to have them memorized (at least at first), but know what they can do for you. Sometimes only one of you formulas will solve the problem. If you don't know it you'll either blow the question or you will have to derive it on the fly!

    When you get a problem, draw a picture and label it. Write down all the variables that you know on the side. Write down what you need to know as well. If you discover you need another variable to get your final result, write that as well. Fill in the values as you calculate them.

    Now it just becomes a treasure hunt. You just have to figure out which formula or chain of formulas you need to get you the answer. Remember, you can use the formulas from either end of the problem (what you have or what you are trying to calculate).

    Always use units in your calculations. I can't tell you how many times I've told the students I tutor that. All it costs you is a little space and time, but it serves as an extra check on your work(Please trust me and do this). I have caught myself many times because my units didn't match what I was calculating. I then could find my problem quickly. So many people just assume what they calculated and tack on the appropriate unit.

    If you work quickly enough, check every calculation immediately after doing it. This will let you catch your stupic math errors early. Nothing is worse on an exam than knowing your calculation is wrong, but having to hunt for the mistake. This approach has saved my butt several times.

    When writing out calculations, use the unit analysis method. This is where you put down your formula and then put in the numbers -- it ends up looking like a big long fraction multiplication problem (also works for gen chem probs). Put your unit conversion right in there with the values on the page rather than doing them in your head, this will help you avoid dumb mistakes.

    Always show all of your work. This will help you avoid errors, be able to correct those that you recognize and may get you partial credit.

    One caveat -- sometimes sly profs will give you information you don't need -- don't sweat it be confident.

    Good luck

  12. exigente chica

    exigente chica 7+ Year Member

    May 28, 2002
    Great advice edmadison, I will put it to use this year. Study groups here I come:(
  13. Centrum

    Centrum SMILEY KING 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2002
    I really like physics. Perhaps I am just weird?
  14. SMW

    SMW Grand Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    anchorage, ak
    I recommend taking an accelerated summer course while suffering with an acute case of mono -- that's what I did.;)
  15. Centrum

    Centrum SMILEY KING 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2002
    True, true. Amazing things can happen when you combine a case of mono and physics.
  16. blz

    blz Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2002
    I'm taking physics right now over the summer and I'm about to have my final next week. I find that physics is...well, easy. Now this could be for many reasons. However, I find that people who totally out right hate it are having a very tough time. So pretend you love it and study conceptually what is going on. Once you understand the concepts and memorize the equations (yes, memorize them even if they give you an equation sheet) physics is then all about overcoming careless errors. If you can take calc 3 (multivariable) before or during physics, it will help a lot in understanding many of the concepts in E&M especially all that right/left hand garbage they throw at you which most students dont have the slightest clue about what they're actually doing (vector cross products). Try to enjoy it because it is a very interesting class.
  17. exigente chica

    exigente chica 7+ Year Member

    May 28, 2002
    Ok, ok. How to ace Orgo then?
  18. Bomb#20

    Bomb#20 Bork Bork Bork 7+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    I want to know this too :D
    Speak, oh wise ones!
  19. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out Physician 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    I don't know how much Multivar Calc didn't have anything to do with physics here. I think it depends on the school though. Here we had a different math course called Vector Geometry which I had to take for a different curriculum and it helped quite a bit. I understand that some colleges will combine this with Calc 2.

  20. Sweet Tea

    Sweet Tea Girl Next Door Physician 10+ Year Member

    Okay, I'm the sick puppy who actually liked orgo, so I'll offer what little help I can give.

    Orgo is a lot of memorization. But whatever you do, DON'T JUST MEMORIZE REACTIONS!!! Know concepts. Know properties of compounds, why something is a nucleophile or electrophile, why the solvent is important... that kind of thing. And there's no getting around memorizing certain mechanisms... but if you know why the mechanism works then it makes them much easier to memorize!!

    Also, like physics, do many more problems than what is given to you. And then do them again. Do any organic problem you can get your hands on... just be sure you know why everything works the way it does. Good luck!! ;)
  21. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    i agree with sweet tea. I too am one of those weirdos who thoroughly enjoyed o chem. problems, problems, and more problems.

    the main thing about o chem is that is not necessarily a ton of material relative to some other classes i've taken, but you really have to stay on top of it. Unlike intro bio or something where you could, if need be, cram for a couple days before the test, you really cant do that in organic since its so much more conceptual. You have to make sure you understand the concepts little by little, work the problems as they come, and you'll be fine.

    for first semester i'd definitely recommend buying one of those model kits for understanding stereochemistry and the elementary reactions. The course really "builds on top of itself" more than any other course, so if you dont understand something fundamental in the beginning, you're pretty much S.O.L.
  22. efex101

    efex101 attending Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Apr 19, 2002
    I also loved organic chem and aced both semesters, read the chapters! it really helps to clarify concepts. It is amazing how many people in my class were doing poorly yet had never ever read the chapter, hello??? Anyways like the above posters said do as many problems as you can, and become one with the reactants. Know why they do certain things as well as how, once you get it, it is really not that hard.
  23. exigente chica

    exigente chica 7+ Year Member

    May 28, 2002
    Tanx guys, wish me luck. I think I may just be suffering from the hype of the class, we'll see. Orgo and Physics...:rolleyes: Library here I come.
  24. loomis

    loomis Lifetime Student 10+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I would also recommend focusing on the concepts behind the physics rather than memorizing, although you'll probably have to devote some brain space to that. When I took physics I did well but most of the formulas seemed like mumbo jumbo to me. I used a book by Hewitt called Conceptual physics alongside my regular textbook and that made the class a lot more understandable.....and actually interesting and cool!
  25. JulianCrane

    JulianCrane The Power of Intention 10+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2001
    Thanks, guys. I hope I do well in physics. :)
  26. CD

    CD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    I found Physics to be a miserable class....barely squeaking C's out of the year. Then I decided to pursue civil engr., a field that is highly dependent on physics. I did MUCH better in the later classes for several reasons.

    1. the first time around I only memorized equations. In later classes I ignored the equations and tried to understand "why" a concept works. The equations take care of themselves when the concept is understood.

    2. In my later classes I chose to read ahead. I can't emphasize that enough, as it gives you a head start in understanding what the prof. is talking about.

    3. do problems, problems, problems, especially problems that differ from the ones you have already done. A broad range of problems will also help with the MCAT.

    4. Don't let anything escape you...Use the prof. or TA. This is perhaps the biggest problem that students have, they need to utilize the resources availiable. Much of physics is just a repeat of what you learn first term so don't let those first concepts escape you. (Electricity and Mag. are just a new way to apply the same principles you use in statics and dynamics.):)

    5. find someone to study with. Although this isn't always the best way it does work for some people. Make sure you've done your work already. There is no better way to make sure you understand a concept than to explain it!

    I find it hard to beleive that after completing my B.S. I went on to tutor physics!!!

    Now ORGANIC? I LOVE organic! (I'm working on a M.S. in organic chemistry) Here's what worked for me (100% tile on ACS national exam)

    1. Work ahead. I chose to start the summer before I took the course. By the time I started classes I'd already worked through most of the chapters that were going to be covered first term.

    2. If you do a problem differently then the solutions say, ask a prof. or TA if your approach will work. There is usually more than one way to work a problem.

    3. Do MANY MANY MANY problems. Organic is really a puzzle class. Learning to work them requires practice at working puzzles! The more you do, the more likely you are to see how to work the next one.

    4. MOST IMPORTANT, understand WHY a reaction takes place. Pay particular attention to where electrons move and WHY. Most of the reactions will take care of themselves if you have a solid understanding of partial charges and electron movement. Initally it is tempting to just memorize the reaction, but as more and more reactions are introduced this becomes nearly impossible. If you've only memorize the initial reactions it makes the later ones quite difficult because you don't have the background to work the later ones. This also helps with the stereochemistry problems. If you understand WHY a reaction took place the stereochemistry (and regiochemistry) takes care of itself. I chose NOT to memorize ANY reactions. (However, after working hundreds of problems the reactions became memorized anyway)

    5. DON'T FALL BEHIND. Organic much more than other classes, builds on itself. Make sure you stay up on the material as falling behind would put you at a marked disadvantage when approaching new material.

    As you might have noticed much of the approach for physics and organic are the same....understand concepts, do many problems, ask for help immediately when stuck.......hope this helps....GOOD LUCK

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