How to Get an 'A' in Physics

Some tips, formulae and sound advice that seems rarely followed to do well in physics.

Incoming Physics Students,

As you head back to school, having completely forgotten everything you learned over the last school year, or it would seem, I want to give you the answer for everything you'll be tested or questioned on this year.


Distance and Time:     d=df–di     t=tf–ti

Speed/Velocity:     vf=vi+d/t

Acceleration/Gravity:     vf=vi+āt     vf2=vi2+2ād     df=di+vit+½at2     g=Gm/r2

T=2(pi)√[r3/(Gm)]     (T1/T2)2=(r1/r2)3

Forces:     F=ma     Ffr=(mu)FN     Fc=mv2/r     Fsp=kx     Fg=Gm1m2/r2

Momentum:     p=mv     Ft=mv

Energy/Work:     KE=½mv2     PE=mgh     PEsp=½kx2     W=Fdcos(theta)

Power:     P=W/t=Fv

Waves:     v=f(lambda)     T=2(pi)√[l/g]     fd=fs(v-vd)/(v-vs)

Sound:     v=331+0.6T

Light:     n1sin(theta1)=n2sin(theta2)     I2=I1(cos2(theta))     E=P/(4(pi)r2

Electricity/Magnetism:     V=W/q     V=IR     F=kqAqB/r2     V=Ed     E=F/q     C=q/V     P=IV

Constants:     g=9.80 m/s2     G=6.6742x10-11Nm2/kg2     c=2.99792458x108m/s

e=-1.60217653x10-19C     k=8.987551788x109Nm2/C2


And there you have it. Everything to get you through this year. Here are some other suggestions, though, in no particular order:

1. Bring a darn pen or pencil to class. "I didn't think we were doing anything today" is not an excuse.

2. Bring enough paper to take notes the entire class period (worst case scenario, of course).

3. Bring your book! Every time, every day.

4. Bring your lab notebook or workbook or binder or whatever. Be prepared to do anything in your classroom.

5. BRING A CALCULATOR! A good ol' scientific (non-graphing) calculator will usually do the trick, but a graphing calculator (TI-85 or similar) is preferred. I prefer the graphing calculators more than anything because it's easy to see the entire entry to figure out what happened when something is wrong (like you forget to close a parenthesis.


On the first day of school, every one starts with an A, for all intensive purposes. Although your teacher will work very hard to teach you everything that they need to teach you, it's up to you to learn as well. Here are some study aids for you:

1. Read, read, read. Take your physics book home and read it. Even 15-30 minutes every night will help. This is not cumulative; reading 75-150 minutes on Saturday will not make up the time.

2. Take your own notes during class (even if the instructor gives handouts or makes them available online) and re-type them within 24-48 hours of taking them.

3. Go to tutoring, even of you don't need that much help. Most schools have some kind of before or after-school program; take responsibility for your own education and look into it.

4. Go to where ever you keep the internet and look up "physics help websites", "example problems" for whatever your talking about at the time, or check out PhET, it has tons of demos for LOTS of concepts in physics, math, bio, chem, etc.

5. If all else fails, ask the one physics professional in your life that could help you the most: YOUR TEACHER.

With the exception of the formulae, swap out the word "physics" for most any other subject in school, and you've got yourself a good guide for success. Good luck, good physicsing and send me a message if you need any help.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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