Physics is one of the hardest classes to take at college. Unlike chemistry and biology, physics is a very mathematical science that takes a lot of concentration to understand.  But with a few simple steps, it can be a class that you excel in!

1. Go to Lecture

Depending on what professor you get, listening to lectures may not really help you understand the material.  Instead, you may leave with more questions than when you came in.  But that is part of the learning process; the more questions you ask, the more information you learn.  Even if you decide that listening to the professor ramble on is not helping you, just going to the lecture and being surrounded by other people who are trying to learn the same material you are will help you see the information from a new perspective.

2. Don’t forget your calculator

Ok, this title may seem like overkill, but try solving a physics problem without a calculator.  It’s almost impossible.  Unless you have a calculator embedded in your mind, you need to make sure one is in your backpack at all times.  The moment you forget it is the moment you need it for the physics exam you’re about to take.  Hopefully, the TA’s have a couple calculators that you can use, but if they don’t, then say goodbye to a good score on that exam.  Just be conscientious of where you put your calculator so that you can rest easy knowing you will have it when you most need it.

3.  Go to Your Discussion Section

Discussion sections are basically the class in which you actually learn the physics material you’ve heard about in lecture.  Practice problems focused on the week’s lecture topic help to boost your understanding of how to solve certain problems, and how the theories of physics are present in the world.  The TA is there to answer your questions, so if you don’t want to ask them in lecture, this small group environment is the perfect place to do so, because everyone else is just as confused as you are.  And who knows, maybe if you are nice enough to your TA he will bring you chocolate on your last day of class!

4. Use OneClass

Every once in awhile there are a few topics in physics that you can’t wrap your head around no matter how many times someone explains it to you.  Don’t worry, you still have hope!  OneClass is a free website that offers educational notes on practically every subject.  Their physics notes are especially great because they break down every theory and equation into a step-by-step process that you can actually follow and understand.  And they make sure they have college level physics notes so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are learning the right material.  It’s an amazing tool!

5. Make a Study Group

Learning to work with people is one of the greatest skills you will learn in college.  And the best way to work with them is in a study group!  Being able to go through problems together and ask them questions is a huge asset that allows you to see the problem from a different perspective.  The others in your group will also have questions, and being able to explain a topic to someone can show you whether you understand the material or not.  Plus, you can always meet at a coffee shop and stock up on coffee while you’re there!

While physics is one of the hardest classes to take, it is also one of the most rewarding.  When you finish that class and know that you did the best you could and actually survived, it is so uplifting.  You suddenly feel like you can do anything!  Well, until you realize you have to take the next physics class.


Emily Jacobson

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