Physics lab

If you’re taking this Physics course, then you’re likely an engineering, chem, or math major, which means that you have a preference for difficult courses. As an introductory Physics course, this is probably the hardest class you will take your freshman year. Whether you’ve never taken a physics course or you’ve gotten 5s on all forms of AP Physics tests, this class will still strain you. Here’s tips on how to survive this monster of a course. (This will be specific to Kenjiro Gomes class).

1. Do MasteringPhysics in advance

The class assignments are all on a website called “MasteringPhysics.” It is due every Wednesday night at 11 pm, but do not leave it for then, don’t even leave it for Tuesday. The class is structured in a seven day cycle starting on Monday, which means that, by Friday, the class topics will cover the next chapter’s lessons while the homework due the following Wednesday will be focused on the previous lesson. If you allow yourself to fall behind on the homework, it will only lead to you falling behind in the class as a whole. Try to do the homework by the Sunday before it is due.

2. Go to the help sessions

Professor Gomes and Tae (the TA) host help sessions every Monday and Tuesday (this may vary from class-to-class). These last for 2 hours and can help you with those few homework problems that you couldn’t get. Be prepared when you walk in, however, otherwise, it’ll be a waste of time for you and for the professor. Pinpoint the areas of struggle and go in with specific questions regarding problems.

3. Enlist help from the LRC

Notre Dame offers the Learning Resource Center where they offer collaborative learning, small group tutoring, and large group tutoring for nearly every class. If you really need help in physics, go online to the site, find the course, and look for a tutoring time that works for you. This allows you to work with other students in your class and struggle through practice problems together. This also allows the tutor to explain concepts one-on-one with you, without classroom discussions.

4. Become best friends with the professor

Try to go to class and sit either in the first two rows of the room or along the aisle. Professor Gomes likes to walk around and see how you’re working out the board problems. If you sit within this “T” zone, then it is more likely that he will come up to you and help you work through concepts. He will also have a tendency to remember your name and know that you actually show up to class and care about it. This makes him more willing to work with you outside of class to better suit your schedule.

5. Keep a line of communication open

Professor Gomes has very specific office hours that don’t work with most people’s schedules. However, he is very willing to meet outside of these hours and will go so far as to tutor you himself. Schedule a time to meet him at least once a week so he can explain the week’s concepts to you. Even if you’re fairly confident in your understanding, go to his office and just do homework there. It is a quiet environment, and if you get stuck, you can easily turn to the professor for help.

Going into engineering physics will seem like a daunting task. It is possible that you may see a 40% on a midterm, but you can still bounce back from it if you utilize these 5 tips. Make this class one of your priorities, and you won’t have to stress about passing an introductory class.


Sarah Hwang

Hi! I'm a freshman at Notre Dame studying Computer Engineering.

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