Why Do Students Dislike Physics?

December 1, 2022

Most of us would fondly recall having received an education in Science at some point in our school lives. In fact, we are most likely to have been introduced to the subject of Science when we were in our upper primary school years. As we progressed into secondary schools, we quickly realised that Science is further catergorised into three different subjects, namely Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In all my years of teaching and tutoring students in the subject of Physics, I’ve found that there is indeed two extremely polarised groups of students as far as the subject is concerned – those who absolutely love the subject and those who simply hated it. The students who loved Physics feel that the subject is fun and can relate how Physics helps to explain how things work in our daily lives. These students also tend to be doing fine as far as the subject is concerned. On the other hand, the students who hated the subject view it as a waste of time and effort. Given the chance, they will probably drop the subject in the blink of an eye.

There are many reasons why a student dislike Physics. Some perceived it as a boring subject. Others dislike the subject because of the teacher. However, the most common reason I found is that they do not understand the subject well enough to be able to solve the questions confidently. As such, they get highly discouraged and disappointed in themselves when they fail their Physics tests and exams again and again. Some of them are even on the very edge of giving up the subject altogether because they do not see the results of their efforts. Remember, having information without knowing its application quickly leads to frustration.

My advice for these students is very simple. First and foremost, recognise that Physics is a conceptual subject. Unlike many other subjects whereby you can do relatively well simply by memorising, you cannot do well in Physics just because you’ve memorised all the laws and formulae. If you’ve not fully understood the various laws and know how to apply them correctly, then every Physics question you encounter is a nightmare.

Secondly, you must know that some topics in Physics are related to another topic directly or indirectly. Simply put, you cannot skip or drop topics if you want to do well in the subject. An examiner can easily set a question that tests you on a few related topics at the same time.

Thirdly, Physics involve a lot of mathematical calculations at the O-level and especially at the A-level. If you are weak in your Math, chances are you might also be struggling in your Physics. It is very rare to find a student who is weak in Math but strong in Physics. In fact, the higher level you go, the more you’ll realise that certain topics in Math and Physics are closed interrelated, especially in the field of Applied Mathematics.

Fourthly, to do well in Physics require time, discipline and effort. If you are not willing to discipline yourself to put in the time and effort for the subject, then chances are you are not likely to excel in the subject. Learning physics can be fun and the work put in to master physics seems like play. Don’t believe me. Read the testimonials of students who started hating physics ended up liking physics.

Finally, take the effort to find a good O-Level Physics tutor to help you. A good Physics tutor will be like a mentor to you. He should have the passion, the required knowledge and the relevant experience to be able to impart what he knows about the subject to you. The ideal Physics tutor should also have work experience in industries where Physics is being applied and used everyday. Such tutor will then be able to give you an insight into how Physics is being used in the real, corporate world and not just in the world of academia. In addition, he should be able to highlight to you what are common struggles and mistakes that students tend to have and make in the various Physics topics.