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Physics: Lost

tonymarc

Full Member
May 15, 2012
30
3
51
  1. Pre-Medical
I really don't know what to do. I did horrible in physics 1 and got a B. I'm currently taking physics 2 and I find it harder than any of my other advanced science courses. Does anyone have any tips on actually understanding physics? Are their any help books out their? Please help a very very confused and lost SDNian :(
 
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Aerus

Elemental Alchemist
7+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2012
3,226
2,483
226
  1. Medical Student
I really don't know what to do. I did horrible in physics 1 and got a B. I'm currently taking physics 2 and I find it harder than any of my other advanced science courses. Does anyone have any tips on actually understanding physics? Are their any help books out their? Please help a very very confused and lost SDNian :(

Since when is a B "horrible"?

Just seek help during office hours and do a lot of practice problems. A tip from me: Think about the bigger picture first. Draw a picture. Consider all the factors: energy, forces, current, voltage, electric field, magnetic field, etc. Don't jump straight into the math yet.
 
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huskydock

MS4
7+ Year Member
Apr 13, 2012
226
101
216
WEST
  1. Medical Student
I really don't know what to do. I did horrible in physics 1 and got a B. I'm currently taking physics 2 and I find it harder than any of my other advanced science courses. Does anyone have any tips on actually understanding physics? Are their any help books out their? Please help a very very confused and lost SDNian :(

Everyone so far has given great advice. Doing well in physics requires not only mastery of the concepts, but also lots of practice in solving all kinds of problems, ranging in difficulty. Focus on setting up the problem first with pictures and all necessary equations BEFORE plugging in any numbers. If you try to dive into solving the problem via calculation right away, you'll often find yourself confused and lost. You'd also probably not be learning much except how to plug and chug.

A 'B' is not horrible at all. In fact, it's not even bad, provided you've been getting pretty solid grades in other classes. Rather than focusing on your letter grade, make sure that you have a good grasp of CONCEPTS and take the time to learn the material with purpose. This will save you a lot of time and grief when it comes to the MCAT.

BTW, check out Khan Academy videos. I find that he does explain most physics topics very well, geared towards the layperson. It's nice because he doesn't use too much jargon and has extremely easy to understand examples.
 
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colorfulfishies

Full Member
Sep 24, 2012
141
14
11
  1. Pre-Medical
I struggled horribly with both physics too but still managed to scrape out nice grades. I ended up becoming a study group leader to gain more exposure and practice with and have learned a lot about learning physics.
1. As said before, focus on concept understanding. Without it, variations in problems will throw you off very quickly.
2. Practice very basic problems to familiarize yourself with the basic concept and math. Learn to recognize the variables being looked at.
3. After that, attempt the harder problems. Make sure to look at how different concepts relate to each other. If you are able to recognize and apply the concepts correctly, the math should not be an obstacle anymore.

Can't emphasize don't just jump to the practice exam problems right away enough, that doesn't seem to help anyone I know unless they can memorize everything they've ever done.
 
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Lil Mick

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5+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2009
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  1. MD/PhD Student
Practice problems are good for physics and math courses, as memorization doesn't help much with these subjects. Also, office hours and online resources can be helpful. If you're looking for something conceptual, the first parts of The Elegant Universe are a great introduction to electromagnetism, nuclear physics, and particle physics.
 
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dsoz

Accepted OHSU C/O 2017
5+ Year Member
Apr 8, 2011
1,578
33
121
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My tip is to pat attention to the units. If you are watching the units and combining or canceling them properly, they will almost tell you how to get from your starting point to the answer.

If you ignore the units, then it is not as clear when you make a mistake.

It takes a different type of thinking than what you are used to for biology. It is even more different than chemistry. At least with chem you may be able to think about where the reactions occur. In physics, it is all about the calculation.

Are you taking algebra based or calculus based physics?

dsoz
 
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j0tt3r

Working on it
7+ Year Member
Apr 26, 2011
102
3
151
  1. Medical Student
I found the physics videos and diagnostics on the wikipremed site to be really helpful. It's intended for MCAT prep (which I did use it for and was happy with), but the physics videos also really helped me with my courses.
 
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crying

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 22, 2012
24
0
101
  1. Pre-Medical
I learned pretty much close to nothing in physics 2, but I found that I was understanding everything so much better when I was studying for the MCAT using a prep book. I think it might be helpful to get a hold of an MCAT physics books and to look through it and do a few problems.
 
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