How did you survive Gen. Physics?

Hello everyone ,

I am somewhat new to this website. I have been reading lots of posts for a year and I signed up today! I am currently taking general physics II. I somehow survived physics I with a B but physics II is seriously kicking my behind. I would like your advise for those who have gone through gen. physics, How did you survive? Tips , help, advise, all are welcome. Thanks for your time.

everyone learns differently. for me, it was just hunkering down and doing practice problems until my face turned blue. many people like for help, and there are other resources like that out there, like “for dummies” or even an mcat physics prep book might put it in words that you understands better than your text

good luck! im in phys II right now and it’s tough!

I agree with actowery - it’s all about practice, practice, practice. Not just assigned homework problems. Do as many other problems as you can.

A specific suggestion I would make, from my experience - when I was in physics, my professor would hand out a list of “suggested” problems (from the book) as exam time rolled around. I did ALL of them - and we’re talking at least 20-30 problems. Hours of work. Then I would go to him with any questions or issues I had, after making my best attempts. Perhaps you could ask your professor which problems he/she thinks would be most helpful as practice? Otherwise, just do as many as you can, and get help on what you don’t understand. One thing about doing a lot of problems, from my experience, is that you also see trends - trends in what you DO understand, and trends in what you have difficulty with. Then that can help you know what to focus on.

My school also had a weekly physics tutoring session, which I attended religiously. Does your school offer any extra help for physics? If so, take advantage of it!

Best wishes to you, and keep us posted on your progress.

  • actowery Said:
everyone learns differently. for me, it was just hunkering down and doing practice problems until my face turned blue

While it is true that everyone learns differently, math based problem solving subjects like Chemistry and Physics require doing NUMEROUS practice problems OVER and OVER again.

Then over again, LOL!!

I know the feeling. Physics can be a serious grind. Is there any particular parts that aren’t working out for you, or is it the whole thing? Personally, some of the chapters are really intuitive and I do very well, and then the very next chapter will be ridiculously difficult and might as well be taught to me in Greek.

Usually, if something makes that little sense, I start looking through wikipedia for explanations of the ideas, then to other sources if that doesn’t work. My professor often explains things in a way I don’t quite get, but hearing a plain English explanation using different wording makes it click.

The other thing I often do is to make a list of all of the relevant formulas, complete with what the variables mean, put them all on a ms paint file, and then make it my desktop background. That way, every time I see my desktop (all the time, I’m always on my laptop) I see all the stuff and wind up reading it even if I don’t mean to. It’s a less stressful and more subtle way to study without obsessing!

I copied and pasted my response below to a similar question posted by another person. I hope this is helpful to you.

I’m taking the algebra/trig based Physics I right now. I actually hated physics in high school. I remember getting a B back then. I still don’t like it , but I am getting an A in the class. The 2 things that have been extremely helpful for me are, I have a great professor and the available online resources. For online resources, my top 3 go to websites are khan Academy, Physics Classroom: and Freelance-teacher:

Khan Academy has been helpful more for Gen. Chem I than Physics. The videos on FreeLance are the BEST for Physics. It takes time to go through the videos but its worth it. I recommend watching the videos prior to the lectures. I just recently watched his videos on Force, Work and Mechanical Energy and it was so helpful, i got an A in my quiz today.

Other helpful tips

Practice, Practice, Practice! Do as many as possible the problems at the end of the chapter. This the only way to apply the concepts as well as to prepare for quizes, tests or exams. Depending on the physics text book you have, some of the answers are in the index section at the back of the book. The problems without answers, you can search on google for answers ( be careful with this option because some of the answers may not be accurate, however, most of the answers are accurate). If you have extra cash buy the Solution Manual for your text book.

Take good notes! Write down everything! I even write down the questions the professor asks in class and the answers.I write down all the examples. This is helpful when you go back to review notes when you have questions as you read through your text book.

Pay attention to the instructor’s testing style. Some professors test their students primarily on what is taught in class, some use the text book more than class lectures. Look at the old tests, where were most of the tests questions from? Anticipate tricky questions, that’s why you have to keep practicing with the problems at the end of each chapter.

So what i do is watch the Free Lance Videos and if needed, i use Khan Academy and Classroom Physics. Then I read my notes, then read the text book then do the problems at the end of the chapter and focus on the areas i’m having difficulties with. If i have questions, i email my professor.

I try to understand where the equations are derived from, how the theories apply in the real world, and when i need to use these equations in a given problem. You do have to memorize these equations.

I hope this is helpful. Other Physics websites i found and i have yet to use are below,

Hang in there!

it’s not free, but it’s very worth it.

For the benefit of others who may be looking for physics help - physics resources that were HUGE benefits to me at the time were:

-the walter lewin MIT lectures (free, watched these before I heard about coursesaver). Walter Lewin is a gift to humanity and I periodically watch one just for fun and as a reminder of what great teachers are capable of.

-for physics II specifically: there’s a book (out of print but still available) called “The Portable TA”, written by, as you may imagine, a former TA at Cal Berkeley. This book was a goldmine of very “testlike” questions with the answers broken down in a very clear and stepwise fashion. I could not recommend more highly.