Examinations for PHYSICS 121 Spring  1998


There will be two midterm examinations, on

Midterm 1: Feb 17  Tue 9:40-10:55 Hoyt

Midterm 2:Mar 24 Tue 9:40-10:55 Hoyt

Final: May 7, 16:00-19:00 SPURRIER

There will be no makeup exams.

                                             Examination Rules

You will be allowed to bring one sheet of paper on one side of which you may write down any formulas that you need.

You can use a calculator.

You will not be allowed to consult any book or notes during the examinations.
Bring a picture  ID to the final examination. 

Previous Exams for PHY121 Fall 1997 S. G. Rajeev
First midterm , Second midterm , Final
You can find also the  solution   to previous Final

You can download and print them  the same way as the lectures.

Will there be makeup exams?

There will be no makeup exams.

The only exception could be  a documented medical emergency.

What is the best way to prepare for the exams?

The best way is to learn how to derive every major formula in the book from Newton's laws.  Once you learn to think this way physics will look very simple.
It is the possiblity of reducing everything to a few simple basic laws (axioms) that  sets physics apart from the rest of the sciences. But to learn think this way is hard,  may be the hardest thing you have ever learned.  The rest of the skills you will be tested on, such as solving problems or answering conceptual questions, are much easier to acquire  and is mostly a matter of practice.

Why are we required to know integral calculus although our calculus course hasn't
yet done integrals?

I go over the rudiments of integral calculus in one of the lectures.  Some basic rules of integration are summarized in the notes to that lecture. This is all the  integral
calculus you need to know to do the problems
I have assigned in homework and exams.

Why am I doing so badly in the  exams  when I am doing fine in homeworks?

The CAPA homeworks test  your ability to apply what you learned to some specific
situations. The exams also test if you know where the formulas come from: to be able
to derive them. You must read the lecture notes (and the book ) and be able to
reproduce the arguments. This is  harder  at first than just working out problems, but once you learn to think this way it will be easy.

I feel I am one of the better students in the class. Yet I have to work as hard as the students who are behind me. Am I doing something wrong?

No. To just pass the course you probably dont have to work too hard. But if you want to get an A or close to it you have to work really hard. I expect
that even the very best students have to struggle in order to get an A.  Even if you are getting a 100% grade in the homeworks  you will probably find the exams difficult.
How can I learn the derivations of formulae when the homeworks dont ask such questions?

The best way is to study the lecture notes and the textbook after the lecture. Dont just read them: try to derive each formula  I derived in class  yourself BEFORE you look at the derivation in the notes or the book. You may find it hard at first but eventually you will be able  to recall where each formula comes from as soon as you see it.


What is the meaning of the grading scheme?

I expect that most students will do well in the homeworks; they mostly
are applications of  physics formulas to everyday situations. If you do well in the homeworks and
adequately in the exams you will get a C. To get better you have to be able to show that you can  derive the formulas from the fundamental principles of physics. For example, if  you know that the moment of inertia of   a solid disk is 0.5 MR^2 (or know
where to look it up) you can solve the homework problems that use that fact.
(Knowledge at this level will get you a C.) In the exams I test whether you can derive that fact from the basic definition of moment of inertia. If you can do that also you are a candidate for an A.  There is a substantial difference between an A and an A-.