THE ART OF THE PHYSICS A1 - ARICA LIM

Practice is possibly the most overlooked aspect regarding success. More often than not, we find ourselves blaming things like simply not having the flair for it, or it being far too difficult.
 
No, I’m not merely waxing-poetic about the importance of practice and whatnot. I’m simply hoping to help you understand what an essential role it plays in anything and everything that you do.
 
My grade in Combined Sciences (Physics) was terrible. I stood over a solid D7 for the most part of my Secondary 3 life, betting on Chemistry to bring it to at least a B3. As you can tell, I wasn’t very good at Physics at all, but I managed to graduate with an A1 for my Combined Sciences (Physics, Chemistry).
 
The difficulties I faced with the subject were pretty common: I couldn’t apply the theories and formulas practically even though I felt like I understood them. I would read the textbook, make my notes, and then completely fail when I attempted a question.
 
The thing is, is that it all makes sense to you when it’s presented to you textbook style. Yes, of course if you push the box 5N to the right, and the friction acting against it was 2N, the resultant force is 3N. Now, what’s the acceleration if the mass of the box was 600g? F=ma, right?
 
Okay, now try this:
A man of mass 50kg and initially at rest, jumps from a height of 5.0m. He lands on the ground with a final velocity of 10m/s. Assuming the man did not flex his knees on landing, and that he is brought to rest very quickly (0.10s), determine the net force acting on the joints in his legs.
 
F=ma, right? If you got it immediately, then you’re more than fine! But if you didn’t, here’s the root of the problem.
 
Which brings me back to my introduction. It’s easy to think you know the theories and laws, but that means nothing if you can’t apply it in your exam paper. You may think its redundant to practice Physics, since the questions that will come up in every exam paper is going to be different, but you’re missing the point of practice.
 
Physics is much more than memorizing the formulas. And this revelation took me a long time to come to. The truth is that you’ll never truly be able to conquer the subject without sheer hard work and time (AKA practice).
 
I did countless school exam papers, I finished the TYS, and even then, some questions still left me stumped. But after all that practice, I realized that seeing the patterns on how to solve questions began coming to me naturally. It’s kind of like muscle memory, which goes away with the time you spend not practicing it.
 
I’m aware that it sounds like so much work, and for some, you might be thinking it’s too late. But really, it’s never too late to start. Knowing the importance of practice is a lifelong lesson, and a valuable one at that.
 
If you’re one of those students who think that practice and completing your TYS is less important, you might want to rethink that. It’s your education, your grade, and there’s no one else who can take charge and make a difference other than yourself.

 

Arica Lim (HGV 2013 - 2016)