problem-solving guide(1)

We are very happy when you explain what youre doing

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Unformatted text preview: points. If we can’t tell what you’re thinking, or you just don’t say what you’re thinking, you’re likely to get a bad grade. You should make explaining yourself a habit: Whatever you end up doing with your life, you’re going to have to communicate and explain concepts all the time. And unless you’re graduating soon, you’ll have to take more tests – and some of these will be even more difficult than physics tests. Upper- level courses often test your ability to explain what’s going on, and I guarantee you that graduate students in other departments aren’t as nice or as diligent graders as we are in physics. So now I’ve given you a glimpse into the grader’s mind; in a sense, this is the “inside scoop” on grading tests. You ought to take tests with these things in mind. Getting Unstuck Before I go on, let me spend some time discussing what you should do if you get stuck on a test question: First of all, I’ve given you a checklist of what you should be looking out for; use it, or use your own version if you don’t like mine. If you can come up with a procedure that helps you think about physics problems, write it on your formula sheet. A successful formula sheet is one you actually end up using to solve test problems. It should contain information useful for the test, and useful to you. You’ve learned an arsenal of important formulae, and I can guarantee you that at least one of them will apply to whatever problem you come across. You probably don’t need every single formula, but many of the formulae in this course show up multiple times: the differential areas involved in integrating flux, first- order differential equations with initial conditions, Kirchhoff’s laws, etc. And if you have trouble understanding a concept, spend some time studying it and write down an explanation that helps you understand what’s going on. That way, when you’re stuck on a problem where you know what to do but can’t remember the details, the method is right there on your formula sheet. There are some problems, however (like problems 1 and 3 on midterm 2 this semester), that become far easier if you see the “trick.” For the first problem on the second midterm, if you realized that work is independent of path,...
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This document was uploaded on 03/03/2014 for the course PHYSICS 171.102 at Johns Hopkins.

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