How to Organize and Study Equations For a Test
Classes like IPC, Chemistry, and Physics require you to solve multiple equations to demonstrate you learned and completely understand the material. (For students who may struggle with solving word problems, refer to our article on using the GUESS method as one way of approaching difficult problems.) Many times your teacher will require you to read a problem and know which equation you should use to solve it. Studying for this may not always be so simple- you can’t just memorize an equation, because you still need to understand how to apply it when solving problems from a word problem. There are four major components to properly studying equations for a test. Read the below article to find out and be sure to download our free Equation Organizer Tool!
- Prompt- A prompt is a cue given in a word problem that serves as a guide for you to set up and solve a problem. Knowing common prompts for formulas is the most critical step to studying equations. It is also the most challenging and time consuming component of studying. You should learn all prompts associated with a given equation. For example, if you are referring to an equation about speed, a prompt may be a simple question- What is the speed/ distance/ time?- found in the passage. Or it may be more complex- Given the units m/s and s, solve for the remaining variable. You should carefully review sample problems, homework problems, and review problems and pick out any prompts associated with a given equation.
- Equation/Theorem- The equation or theorem is the formula constructed by the prompt that helps you solve your problem. After learning the prompts, now memorize both the equation associated with the prompt and all units associated with the equation. Understanding how units relate to an equation will help you solve the problem easier.
- Notes- Notes are important clues to help you remember the prompts and associated equations or theorems. You should always learn and write down constants, important units, or information your teacher may have mentioned in class. Often your notes will consist of strategies to help you solve a problem. For example, you may mention in your notes that your teacher always uses this equation in a certain format, or always tries to trick you in a certain way.
- Key words and definitions- It’s not enough just to understand the equation itself. You must also know the components of the equation and every definition associated with it. For example, in our equation for speed, you will want to know the definition of speed versus velocity.
While the above studying components seem straightforward, it takes practice and dedication to organize your notes to really learn the concepts fully. Associated with this article is a free downloadable resource that organizes this information into an easy to use study guide. Use this study guide for every test where you must now how to solve problems using various equations. For help with applying the study guide to your notes, or for general study help, contact us!
Article written by Shayna L. Pond and Action Potential Learning
Action Potential Learning provides private tutoring in math and science as well as standardized test prep and science and math camps. As math and science specialists, our tutors know and understand difficult math and science concepts and can help you improve your grades and perform on standardized tests.