Conquer Your Physics Fears: A Practical Guide to Exam Preparation

keep calm and study physics

“You cannot be taught physics, you have to learn it!”

Coming straight to the point(s):

  • Use one textbook and do not collect notes and books. One good book is enough and it can be supplemented with a question bank.
  • A question bank is a life-saver. I have explained the importance of a question bank in this post on “Question Bank – Why and How?”. Use a question bank to understand the types of questions asked, the wording of these questions, how many marks are allotted to these questions and to practice answering the paper.
  • Prepare a list of definitions, laws, formulae, derivations, etc.
  • Make a list of mnemonics that will help you remember the points. You have already used mnemonics like “VIBGYOR” for the colours of a rainbow, or “BB ROY of Great Britain has Very Good Wife” to remember the sequence of colours in resistor colour code! Make similar mnemonics for other topics.
  • Prepare a list of diagrams. Draw all diagrams with a properly sharpened pencil and use a scale for drawing all lines.
  • For every definition, remember the corresponding formula also. If you have to write a definition, write its corresponding formula as well. Often, when you write a formula, you are able to recollect the definition.
  • Learn the laws and definitions – don’t change the wording as that may change the meaning.
  • Physics use the language of mathematics to express very complex ideas. Use formulae to explain your point. Avoid flowery language.
  • Learn all formula with what each symbol stands for.
  • Learn the units and dimensions of all physical quantities.
  • Memorize basic constants in Physics. E.g., values of acceleration due to gravity on surface of earth (g), speed of light in vacuum (c), pi, Planck’s constant, Avogadro’s number,
  • When reading from your textbook, use a pencil and make notes in the margin – use left-side margin for even numbered pages and right-side margin for odd numbered pages.
  • Wherever a definition is given in textbook, write DEFN in the margin. Similarly, wherever a law is given in the textbook, write LAW in the margin. This will help you to locate the definition and law easily.
  • Highlight important words, phrases and sentences in each chapter. These important words are called ‘keywords’, and the examiner is looking for these keywords in your answer paper. If you use Google, you already know the importance of keywords! 🙂
  • Practice all derivations regularly, along with diagrams. Remember the starting point of every derivation. Every derivation must also have a diagram.
  • Write your descriptive answers in points like (i), (ii), (iii), etc. That way you are unlikely to miss out any important point.
  • Practice all numerical questions. When answering numerical questions, you must give the formula that you will use, list of given quantities (with units) and list of unknown quantities. Before you substitute the values, check that they are all in same system of units (CGS / SI). Draw a diagram for the problem situation as that can help you get to the solution.
  • Don’t omit numerical questions; you are not likely to get good marks if you don’t attempt numerical questions. Some numerical questions are very easy and may just involve a simple substitution and calculation.
  • All numerical questions must contain the answer with proper units.
  • Answer to the point. Anything not relevant to the question does not carry marks and you may be robbing another question of its time!
  • Don’t spend too much time on any one question.
  • Practice all circuit diagrams and pay attention to directions of currents and potential difference polarity.
  • Solve atleast 5 years question papers and sample papers; that will give you enough confidence.
  • Some students study with music in the background. Its your choice. If it helps, use that method. But in general, find a quiet and comfortable place where you are not disturbed. That means the mobile should be a long distance away from you!

What methods or tricks do you use to study physics? Share them here in the comments section below.

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