The Easy Way: Less sweat and better grades (Part I)

Some students find Physics an extremely complicated and difficult subject. Espescially the parts where calculations need to be performed. They study for hours and hours, but can’t seem to pass the tests. They claim they are not technical people and that they will never be able to get a good grade for physics, math or chemistry. In this series of posts I’m going to give an overview of some of the study tactics students use to get a good grade for physics without studying for hours and hours.

Reading is an option, but not a good one
A very common study technique at the secondary school is reading the textbook and then rereading the same text over and over again. I don’t think that this is a powerfull study technique for any subject, but for physics it is certainly not. It is extremely time consuming and it is extremely time wasting.

The material covered in most physics tests is not very large. Most of the times it is a handful of concepts that are tested in various applications and variations. The first step comes into devoloping an insight for these concepts. If you don’t understand them, how can you possibly apply them in various situations?

Surely you can learn yourself some tricks to pass some of these applications, but if your teacher asks you an application he has not gone over during classes you probably are not able to come up with a good answer.

Developing insight
Cal Newport’s posts on his blog a great article for developing deep insights. He also provides the same conclusion that I’ve given above: first understand the concept before trying to make practice problems.

Without insight you can’t do well

I’m not going to give a summary of this post, but I will give you this advice: read it!

Practice makes perfect
You understand all the scales in music theory, you know all the rhytms that can be made, but does it make you a good musician? No, you need to practice them on an instrument! The same applies to physics. Once you know the concept you need to practice, practice and practice. However, don’t do this the day before your test.

Make a practice problem every day. It takes you a few minutes of your time each day. Minutes you now probably fill with checking your last tweets or your latest Facebook updates. It are only a few minutes a day, but the benefits are enourmous.


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