Students’ Biggest Complaint About Physics

December 1, 2022


Having taught the subject of Physics at the O-levels and the A-levels for many years, I have heard many complaints and grouses from students regarding the subject. These complaints and grouses range from incompetent and boring Physics teachers in schools, finding the subject totally boring, hating Physics altogether, etc., etc., etc.

However, the biggest complaint (and frustration) students have regarding Physics is that they are NOT getting the results they desire despite having dedicated many, many hours of effort into the subject. What’s worse is that most of these students do not even know why their hard work and effort are not paying off.

If you can identify with what I have just written, then I urge you to read the rest of this article.

First and foremost, let me assure you that you are not the only one who is encountering this frustration of studying so hard for Physics and yet getting poor results for your efforts. There are many, many students who are in the same situation as you.

Many of my students will tell me that they are hard working. That they have memorised all the physics laws and formulae. But yet, when it comes to applying what they have learned to problem solving, they are not able to do it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret about myself here. When I was a student doing Physics many, many years ago, I too encountered this very same problem that you are facing. And it is because of having gone through such a big struggle in the subject during my student years that I am now today able to empathise and help my students in the subject. That’s because I discovered that many, many students apply the wrong study methods when it comes to Physics. I, too, was one such student.

You see, throughout my secondary years (1980 ~ 1983), I only knew one method of learning; i.e. memory. I memorised everything as much and as best as my memory could. And pure memory work did helped me to a great extent; at least as far as “memory-based” subjects like History, Geography and Literature are concerned. However, where CONCEPTUAL subjects like Physics and Math are concerned, memory work (though important but insufficient) can only get you so far.

That’s when I realised that for conceptual subjects like Physics and Math, I need to UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS behind the various topics in the subjects. Once this became clear to me, I approached Physics with a different learning perspective. I would first seek to fully understand the concepts behind each individual Physics topic. Once I understood the concepts, I was surprised to discover that memorising the various Physics laws and formulae became a breeze. That’s when I started being more and more able to apply my Physics knowledge to solve the tests and exam questions. Subsequently, my grades started to improve drastically. My confidence in the subject also increased tremendously.

So, if you can identify yourself with this article, please heed my advice. Note that although memory work is still required for Physics, it is SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH to help you when it comes to application. You need to UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS behind every Physics topic. If you succeed in this, I dare guarantee you that remembering the various Physics laws and formulae will definitely be easy. On top of that, you will also be able to solve Physics problems correctly and more confidently.

Now, it is easy for me to preach UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS FIRST to you. However, as a student, it may not be that easy for you to understand the concepts without proper guidance from someone who is proficient in the subject ( be him / her a classmate, teacher, parent, friend or tutor). In my time as a student, I was truly blessed to have a Physics and Math mentor in my uncle. It was him who taught me all the concepts behind the subjects of Physics and Math.

And I have been teaching, tutoring, mentoring and helping O and A-level students to understand these concepts since 1988. If you feel that you faced a daunting task trying to grasp and master Physics concepts, please do not hesitate to seek help. You may call me anytime to discuss your problem with Physics.There’s no obligation at all on your side to engage me as your Physics tutor. Remember, I am here to help. And I am but a phone call(8157 6308) away.