How to Take Perfect Notes in Physics Class
Physics is the study of the mechanics of nature, motion and the relationship between matter and energy. The study of Physics allows us to answer questions such as “Why is the sky blue?” by showing us the scientific processes that shape the world we live in. But sometimes, it may be difficult to write great notes that adequately convey everything covered in class. So to make sure you’re getting the most out of your learning, we’ve put together the top tips for creating the perfect Physics notes.
Write in a Way that Increases your Understanding
In Physics classes, you’ll need to memorize vocabulary and learn about different processes that occur in the natural world. But if you don’t have a strong understanding of these new concepts being presented to you, Physics as a subject can become confusing rather quickly. So it’s important to make sure that your notes are easy to understand.
For instance, if your professor uses complex language to describe a phenomenon, try rephrasing it within your notes using words that you better understand. After all, your class notes will be virtually worthless if they don’t make sense to you.
You should also cater your notes to your unique learning style. You could add diagrams, make lists, write additional explanations on sticky notes, highlight key vocabulary, or do anything else that will help you retain the information. If your notes are specifically geared towards how you learn best, they will be much more useful to you.
Use the Connection Between Mathematics and Physics to your Advantage
Mathematics is a vital component of Physics because it helps to frame complex concepts in more relatable terms. In other words, math in Physics allows you to model the meaning behind a definition.
For example, velocity is defined as “the change of the position of objects, divided by time.” So to reword this description into something you can see and quantify, you would use the formula: ((final position) – (initial position) ÷ time) to more clearly express that idea. Making the connection between definitions and mathematical formulas in this way within your notes will help you better comprehend the material.
Build upon Past Notes
One the hardest parts about Physics is having a comprehensive understanding of how the different aspects of this subject intersect. If you simply memorize formulas, definitions, and concepts individually with no idea of how they all fit together, you’re going to have a difficult time writing effective notes. Physics is a sequential subject, which means you need to make sure you understand concepts from the first class before you show up for the second class.
To help with this, be sure to create notes in a way where they build upon each other. Your notes should work in tandem to connect the dots between all the things you have learned. You should also practice applying concepts in a real-world context. This will prepare you for your exams, which may feature questions that require you to do the same thing.
Record the Purpose of your Lab Experiments
Performing experiments in a Physics lab is essential towards giving you a hands-on experience with the concepts you are learning. Thus, it is not enough to just participate in the lab. It’s all too easy to get in the habit of simply documenting your findings without fully understanding what you are doing and why.
Instead after each lab, you should briefly describe what occurred during the experiment and what you learned. Doing this will cause you to become more engaged in your labs since you will have to focus on understanding the purpose of each experiment instead of just going through the motions. This is an opportunity to continue connecting more dots within your notes and identify relationships between concepts discussed in lectures.
Take Time to Review your Notes
Considering that Physics requires you to grasp how everything works together, reviewing your notes after writing them is imperative. This will not only allow you to view the material twice, but you will also have a chance to see what ideas you struggled with since they will most likely be found in the least coherent section of your notes. Then you can work to reword your descriptions, add new information and structure your notes in a way that is most aesthetically pleasing and efficient for you.
Ask for Help when Necessary
Physics is a complex subject, so it is understandable that you may have trouble comprehending some ideas every now and then. When this happens, you should seek help. You can consult the textbook, ask for an explanation from fellow classmates or schedule office hours with your professor directly. Be sure to add any additional information you gain from other sources to your notes to make them as complete as possible.
Physics is a course that involves comprehending many different concepts and how they relate to one another. And while it may be difficult to streamline all of that information, it is still possible to write great notes that will bring the pieces of the puzzle together. If you can cater your notes to your learning style, adequately incorporate mathematical formulas, apply all of the concepts, summarize your lab experiments and review your notes, you will be well on your way to furthering your understanding of Physics.