Tips to Solve Numerical Problems

Some tips for the students of Physics at Secodry and Senior Secondary level while solving the numerical problems:

1-    Numerical problems of physics are not the same as the problems in the mathematics. So do not try to memorise only the formulas and equations without understanding the concepts of the topic related to the problems.

2-    Try to picture that have been said in the numerical problems. So read the problem carefully and don’t try to read like you are running out of time.

3-    You must start to solve numerical problems with very easy, formula based, and “very short type” or “short type answer” questions. It will help you to learn the formula and basic concepts used in the problem and it will make you more enthusiastic towards problem-solving and strategy-making person for all physics problems.

4-    You should never underestimate the Very Short Answer or Short Answer type questions because these questions are like learning key-board before you start to play piano.

5-    For bigger problems try to draw a diagram with what have been given in the question.

6-    Write down what you know and what you are trying to find out. In simple problems you may just do it in your mind but for more difficult problems it is very useful wherever you have to find out two, three or more results.

7-    Solve things symbolically. If you are solving a problem where the given quantities are specified numerically, you should immediately change the numbers to letters and solve the problem in terms of the letters. After you obtain an answer in terms of the letters, you can plug in the actual numerical values to obtain a numerical answer. There are many advantages to using letters:

a-     It’s quicker. It is much easier to multiply a g by an l by writing them down on a piece of paper next to each other, than it is to multiply them together on a calculator. And with the latter strategy, you’d undoubtedly have to pick up your calculator at least a few times during the course of a problem.

b-    You’re less likely to make a mistake. It’s very easy to mistype an 8 for a 9 in a calculator, but you’re probably not going to miswrite a q for a g on a piece of paper. But if you do, you’ll quickly realize that it should be a g. You certainly won’t just give up on the problem and deem it unsolvable because no one gave you the value of q!

c-     You can do the problem once and for all. If someone comes along and says, oops, the value of l is actually 2.4m instead of 2.3m, then you won’t have to do the whole problem again. You can simply plug the new value of l into your final symbolic answer.

d-    You can see the general dependence of your answer on the various given quantities. For example, you can see that it grows with quantities a and b, decreases with c, and doesn’t depend on d. There is much, much more information contained in a symbolic answer than in a numerical one. And besides, symbolic answers nearly always look nice and pretty.

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