Dealing With Physics Homework Effectively: Helpful Advice

Although learning physics seems a less than favorite endeavor to many learners, regular homework may lessen the initial rigors involved in physics education and help students achieve an optimal level of knowledge about the area of study which is undoubtedly one of the most productive and resourceful fields of education of all times.

  • Developing a picture:
  • Initially, you should try to picture something that captures the basics of the problem. If you are dealing with a complex topic in physics, figuring out something that you can easily visualize is a very impressive way to draw an accurate, clear, large and labeled figure, and formulate the problem appropriately in your mind. Remember that some problems involve abstract physical quantities and concepts while others can easily be pictured.

  • Using symmetries:
  • If you are about to adapt a particular co-ordinate system to your problem or use symmetries with arguments that certain quantities are zero, you can easily reduce the number of calculable elements.

  • Recognizing the important scales:
  • Right before you initiate, you should identify the various important quantities with their dimensions. If you do not draw a comparison between a physical quantity with all its dimensions and the relevant scales, it will make no sense. In addition, the majority of problems in physics can be reduced to an exercise in figuring out a dimensionless constant which multiplies its quantity with dimensions.

  • Watching the vectors:
  • Keep in mind that a vector is a direction and a number. Forgetting this simple rule typically leads to a sign error. You should try to ensure that the directions correctly coincide with the coordinate system.

  • Using approximations:
  • In some cases, homework in physics can be simplified with the use of approximations. When you compare the mass of a desk to the mass of an electron, you need to know that a single electron’s mass has little to do with your steps. Under these circumstances, treating the mass of an electron as zero is advisable. As a common approximation, sin(θ) ≈ θ for angles which are less than 3° can be a viable solution.

  • Saving numerical calculations:
  • If the problem has dimensionless part, it is good to start with that first. After having the answer in a simple formula, you should plug in the numerical values for different variables. Therefore, you will not need to do the additional calculator work. You can also avoid simple math errors.

  • Checking the answer:
    • You can test your answer in a limiting case where the correct answer is known to you depending on other considerations.
    • Try to work the problem in at least two independent ways.
    • Check to see if your answer includes the proper units.

Finally, do not consider any problem as a nerve-wrecking task. Just take a free breath and start working on it.


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