Tips for success in learning physics include reading that day's lesson in the textbook prior to attending class, studying a little bit each day rather than trying to cram a lot of information in a short period of time, and formulating a strategy for tackling problems before working them. The most successful students strive to understand the fundamental concepts, rather than simply memorizing formulas and applying a "plug and chug" approach to solving problems.
Many physics problems require plugging data from a word problem into a formula and solving mathematically. However, it is ineffective to try simply memorizing all of the formulas without understanding the concepts behind their applications, warns Oberlin College Physics Department. Students are more likely to identify the correct equation to apply to an exam problem if they put in the study time to truly understand the scientific logic behind the mathematical techniques covered in the class.
At the same time, students who do not have the appropriate math background may struggle to calculate the correct answers, even when they understand the material on a conceptual level. Students lacking key math skills may find it helpful to reference books such as McGraw-Hill's "Essential Math for the Sciences."
Physics students may also benefit from scheduling study groups with classmates. These meetings allow the students to learn new ways of thinking about the content from one another.