Even students who have never struggled with a science class often can find themselves running into problems when it comes to physics. In high school, physics courses not only drill down on the science fundamentals, but oftentimes require significant applications of math. AP Physics is more of the same — but at a faster pace. College-level courses are equally difficult, requiring many of the same applications of math and scientific theory to real-world problems. With this in mind, getting physics help isn’t admitting defeat; it’s pretty much expected, says one of InstaEDU’s best physics tutors. So where to go if you need some help on force, electricity, magnetism and more? Get connected with an online physics tutor on InstaEDU.
To help you get the most out of your online physics tutoring, we asked Samir C. (a physics major from Columbia) and James M. (a Masters student in Physics at the University of Chicago), for advice on how to tackle these extra-tough courses (and come out with your GPA in tact!).
Draw it out (use the whiteboard!)
“When you look at a problem, step back and think. Write down every equation that can be said about the system that you’re solving,” says Samir. “Then, work through them to develop a system of equations that will help you solve for the unknown variable.” Using the whiteboard not only allows you to write down all the equations you might need, but also lets you diagram your problem — something that can be especially useful if you are working on problems related to force. “[Using the whiteboard is] almost better than interacting face-to-face with students since tutoring sessions don’t always involve a whiteboard,” says James. And remember that if your problem is a complicated one, you can always add more than one page to your whiteboard if/when you run out of space.
Don’t get discouraged
James is working on a masters degree in physics, and he put it best. “Physics is hard,” he said. “Don’t expect it to just come naturally. Usually the barrier between you and understanding the concepts is a lot of time and hard work.” For high school students, physics can be especially challenging if they aren’t used to solving complicated word problems that require upper-level math. Students who are willing to spend time really thinking through how to approach their problems will be more successful than those who rush through.
Beware of AP Physics
Working through AP Physics this year? Get ready to do some serious studying. “I think students in both AP physics B and C courses in high school should automatically start looking for a tutor,” explains Samir. “In my opinion, those courses both rush through a bunch of incredibly interesting physics, giving you only a surface level analysis and leaving you unprepared for higher physics in college.” Every student needs to decide what their balance of hard work and end-grade will be, but James says it’s best for students to look for a tutor when “they’ve poured a lot of time into a particular class, they’ve exhausted the available resources (office hours with a TA/professor, study sessions with peers, etc.), and they’re still struggling (B- or below on homework assignments is usually my metric).”
Look for helpful online resources
InstaEDU isn’t the only place to go online for physics help. Samir recommends students check out MIT’s introductory physics courses — which are all offered for free online (check out the open courseware site here) In particular, he recommends looking for classes taught by Walter Lewin who is “a master of teaching introductory physics.” For basic topics, James says Khan Academy’s physics section is “the best resource for students.”
“You know you need help if you ever think that your teacher is going to fast,” says Samir. “Even if you get the right answer, you may still need help because you don’t truly understand the physics behind the problem.”
Want to get physics help ASAP? Connect with Samir or James to set up a lesson today, or connect with one of our online physics tutors through an on-demand lesson.