Department

Physics and AstrophysicsCourse Code

PHYA10H3Professor

Johann BayerStudy Guide

MidtermThis

**preview**shows pages 1-3. to view the full**23 pages of the document.**University of Toronto

Scarborough

PHYA10H3

Introduction to Physics IA

Fall 2017

Term Test 1

Prof: Johann Bayer

Exam Guide

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

Subscribers Only

The ﬁrst instinct of many life science students is to study for exams by memorizing as much

information as possible. This is not a bad instinct — it is generally a successful strategy in

biology courses.

However, this will not work in physics classes. Introductory physics courses teach problem

solving. The only way to get better at problem solving is to practice — this means that you

should not only do all of the homework that your professor assigns, you should also work

together with a study group to solve or review diﬃcult problems. The best way to study for a

physics test is to review the solutions and revise your answers to your corrected home-work

problems (but don’t try to simply memorize them!). Physics professors are known to put

homework problems, either verbatim or slightly modiﬁed on exams.

How novices and experts solve problems

Education research shows that novices and experts approach solving physics problems very

diﬀerently. If you would like a high grade on your physics exam, you should emulate expert

problem solvers, rather than follow your instincts as a novice.

How novices (students in physics 101) solve problems:

Introduction to Physics

Problem Solving Tips

2. Hunt through the textbook (or equation sheet) until they ﬁnd an equa-tion that looks

promising or has (some of) the right variables

3. Immediately plug in the numbers given in the problem

4. Plug all of those numbers into their calculator

5. Get a result

6. Relax! The problem has been solved.

1. Panic!

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

Subscribers Only

How experts (physics professors) solve problems:

1. Describe the physical system (objects, forces, interactions)

2. Clarify the geometrical relationships of the system (for example by drawing a

picture or adding a coordinate system)

3. Identify the relevant physical principle (this is a Newton’s 3rd law prob-lem, this is a 1-D

kinematics problem)

4. Make simplifying assumptions (can we represent this as a particle?, is air resistance

important?)

5. Find relevant equations

6. Solve the equations algebraically ﬁrst, then plug in numbers

7. Get a result

8. Check the units of the result (to verify the answer is correct) and in-terpret the result

(is this reasonable?)

The mandatory steps for solving a physics problem:

You may not be an expert problem solver yet, but you can avoid some novice mistakes by

following these steps:

1. Examine the situation to determine which physical principles are involved.

2. Draw a picture

3. Write down the things that we know (knowns) and convert units if necessary

4. Write down what we want to ﬁgure out (unknowns)

5. Write down an appropriate equation(s)

6. Solve that equation using algebra so that the variable we are interested in is by itself on

one side of the equals sign

7. Plug in numbers

8. Use a calculator (or our heads) to do the arithmetic

9. Check to see if our answer is reasonable

###### You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version

Subscribers Only