The Entrance Exams to several professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, Pharmacy, Pure Sciences etc. has Physics as one of the subjects. Physics is the foundation for learning almost all of Engineering and hence is an extremely important subject of Science. However, most aspirants of these Entrance exams struggle in studying Physics and find it tough. The least average marks in MHT-CET exam every year is in the subject of Physics. There are many reasons why Physics appears difficult to students and there are methods by which Physics can be made easy to learn. This article attempts to give an efficient approach to study Physics with ease.
1. The first thing that must be appreciated about Physics is that it is a conceptual subject and solving problems in Physics means learning to apply the right concepts in an appropriate manner. Students struggle in Physics as they do not grasp the concepts in a systematic and rigorous manner.
2. The other significant aspect of Physics problem solving is that it involves intelligent use of mathematical tools like Vectors, Graphs, Trigonometry, Theory of Equations, Co-ordinate Geometry and most importantly Calculus techniques of Differentiation, Maxima-Minima and Integration.
3. The right sequence in which Physics must be studied is the following :
- Units, Dimensions, Vectors & Working Knowledge of Calculus
- Particle Mechanics
- Rigid Body Mechanics
- SHM, Gravitation and Elasticity
- Fluid Mechanics
- Thermal Physics
- Electromagnetism & Circuits
- Wave Mechanics
- Modern Physics
The text books prepared by the HSC Boards do not conform to the above sequence in Std.11 & 12. This is one of the major reasons for students not following this master sequence to understand the subject of Physics which lands them into troubles with the subject.
4. Solving any Problem in Physics involves a 4-step algorithm :
- Identify key concepts & principles needed to solve the problem.
- Model the problem in the form of mathematical equations. Get as many equations as unknowns.
- Solve the equations to get the unknowns.
- Interpret the answers in the language of Physics.
Students usually struggle in the first 2 steps in Physics. The remaining 2 steps are usually easy.
5. It is important to understand that any topic in Physics involves very few key principles. For example, in entire Particle Mechanics, there are only 4 key principles which the student must master to solve any problems viz. Kinematics, Force Dynamics, Work-Energy Theorem and Impulse-Momentum Theorem. Any problem in Particle Mechanics will involve one or more of the above 4 principles only. There is no 5th principle needed.
6. Another challenging part in solving Physics problems to students is how to use Calculus in solving problems in Physics. An important thing to realise is that those problems which involve a non-linear variation of one parameter with respect to the other would need Calculus techniques to handle them. If a set of parameters are cyclically linked in a phenomenon, then the use of Differential equations becomes necessary to analyse the same.
7. To master the art of solving Physics problems, a student must learn to visualise the situation in the problem and think which of the key concepts involved must be used. This type of thinking helps the student to initiate the process of problem solving.
8. The student must learn to distinguish between the Physics part of the problem and the Mathematical part of the problem. Often, the student gets the Physics part correctly but gets stuck in the mathematical part. The Physics part has to be handled by using key Physics concepts and the Maths part by using key Mathematical tools. Which part in a particular problem is more challenging has to be clearly distinguished and tackled.
9. Solving large variety of problems in Physics and solving the same problem by various methods is an effective way to gain mastery in Physics.
10. For understanding theory, students must use classic text books in Physics like books written by HC Verma or by Resnick-Halliday or by Sears-Zemansky.
If the above points are kept in mind, the student will gain mastery in this fascinating subject of Physics which is the core of all Sciences.