Quick disclaimer: I took the PHYS 11X series here at UW, along with the corresponding labs. This advice is based on my personal experience studying algebra-based physics.
- Go to class
Trust me, when the end of the quarter rolls around, you’ll be grateful for those participation points. If you gotta miss class, just shoot your professor an email – they’ll understand. During the lecture, pay attention. Write down any questions you have so you can ask them during office hours. To make the lecture make more sense, be sure to do the pre-lecture assignments in a timely manner, and watch any videos attached. Trust me, those videos are fantastic.
- Do the practice problems
Usually, your professor will assign practice problems from the textbook. If not, the program will automatically give you follow-up questions based on the pre-lecture assignment. Do them. Please, please do the problems. Even if you didn’t go to class, even if you don’t understand anything that’s going on, completing problems will force you to learn. Since the textbook is online, it’s very easy to pull it up and do a bit of reading to understand the question at hand.
- Record everything in one place
It can be a notebook, a folder on your computer, or whatever works for you. Write down pre-class and in-class notes, derivatives for equations, practice problems, conceptual problems, etc. Writing and rewriting will truly engrave physics into your mind and muscle memory.
- Understand the formula sheet
This is especially helpful when you’re doing practice exams. Print out the given equations sheet and make sure you know how to derive certain equations for certain problems, what the variables mean in the context of the equation, and, most importantly, where the equation is on the paper. You don’t want to waste precious time searching for one formula during the exam. Make a note of what the sheet gives you, and what you have to memorize. For example, I remember memorizing basic conversions, like nm to m. Simple enough, but if you don’t know it on test day, that’s a whole five points gone.
- Use your resources
Go to office hours, CLUE tutoring, and ask stupid questions. It’s okay, I promise. You’re here to learn, and there’s no shame in that. Being a woman in STEM means that you have to learn how to take up time and space. You have to stand up for yourself and your education, and no one is going to do that for you. The first step is on you.
You got this! And remember, it’ll all be okay.