The applications of Physics are everywhere, that is why it becomes very interesting to understand its different laws and principles. But we can’t deny the fact that in school, a lot of students are having difficulty enjoying their physics subject. Why? Some would say it is because they don’t find math easy as well, and we know that math is a part of physics. Others would tell you that physics is hard to understand or that their teacher doesn’t teach that well, and a number of other reasons. But the real reason behind this difficulty is that they do not have good study habits and strategies that could help them top not only physics but as well as their other classes.
Let me share with you a few things that I have shared with my students to enjoy Physics:
1. Stop hating physics.
I understand that we cannot force people to like something that they don’t. But not liking physics should not be hating it. Physics may not be something that you really like but don’t treat it as if it is your mortal enemy. Start getting involved in the subject by learning something new each day. You’ll be surprised to find out a lot of things related to your daily life.
2. Don’t trail behind.
A pie can easily be digested if you take several small bites than eat one whole slice instantly. What I mean is that you could understand the concepts better if you stay up to date with the lessons taking bits of information at a time rather than playing catch up and studying everything at once. If you fall behind, there is a greater possibility of a negative impact in your performance in the subject. If that happens, you might go blaming physics again for being so “hard”.
3. Scan your notes before class
Lessons in physics are interrelated. It is good that you understand the previous ones so that it will be easier to take in new lessons. Scanning your notes before your class will help you understand what your teacher will say and you will have enough time to ask questions that might be confusing. You will not also need to write down everything your tutor might tell you.
4. Allot ample time to study at home.
Home study time doesn’t need to be too long. After all, you spent almost one-third of your day in school already. But you need to make sure that you browse through everything you had for the day for at least an hour or so. This will enable you to absorb more concepts rather than reading large portions every week.
5. Join or create study groups.
Three heads are better than one (I had a small study group back in highschool consisting of me and two other friends, thus three heads). Joining study groups could help a lot in understanding physics and help all of you to excel. But you must remember that the study group should be small enough to have closer interaction but able enough to help each and every member of the group understand the concepts.
6. Browse past test papers.
Browsing your past exam papers will help you get the “feel” of an actual exam. Try to identify you strong and weak points. How much time do you spend in one test item? Which questions were you able to answer better, conceptual questions or ones that involved a little computation? This will help you assess yourself for the next exam and you can concentrate on your weak points but not taking the strong points for granted.
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7. Learn to like math too.
Oh no. Don’t give me that look. We simply cannot do without math in physics. You have to be good in math to do well in physics calculations. The trick here is to understand the concepts behind the equations and not just memorizing formulas. Believe me, you will see that a = F/m, v = d/t or E = mc2 (oh well, that’s a little too complicated, but still an example) will have a whole different meaning and wouldn’t look so scary if you know what it means.
8. Enrich your physics vocabulary.
Before there are equations, there are terms. The definitions of these physics terms don’t need to be memorized. As I always tell my students, understanding the meaning of the terms is a lot better than just remembering the definition given by the book or dictionary. There are a few words that have a different meaning in physics from its English meaning. You have to take note of these as well.
9. Have fun in the lab sessions.
Laboratory activities are inevitable in physics classes. And believe me when I tell you that you might learn more when you do the hands-on as compared to the lecture. Though there are a lot of do’s and don’ts inside the laboratory, you can still enjoy your laboratory activities as much as you want to. For as long as you follow the procedures specific in the lab experiment sheet, exhibit a curious attitude, cooperate with your groupmates and ask questions related to what you are doing, you will never get bored in the laboratory.
10. Be confident.
If others can do it, why can’t I. Always remember this and have good, positive confidence. Have the right attitude and believe in yourself. Think positively, work your way to you goal and you’ll find yourself slowly living up to your expectations of yourself.