Equations and Units and Relationships, oh my!

May 23, 2013

For the past few days in the MCAT SIP program, we have been focusing on the first few chapters of the Physics review notes book. We have been tackling topics like Kinematics, Force, Motion, Gravitation, Work and Energy. There is a lot of high yield material in the first few chapters and it can often be extremely overwhelming, especially for students who haven’t taken physics in a few years.

When it comes to the physical sciences, there are three things that can help increase your physics speed and accuracy.

1. Equations- It is absolutely essential to know the equations by heart and to be able to recall them quickly. To practice equations, memorize them in chunks. What are all of the equations that deal with energy? Know them as a group and you can pick up any of them individually when you need to solve a question. Use flashcards, friends, games and mnemonics, however it works best for you, but you 100% need to know your equations on test day.

2. Units- You have to know how to break down a Joule, a Newton a Watt or an Ohm into its separate components. Frequently, answer choices will feature different units and you can eliminate based on knowing that a Newton is kg*m/s^2 so that has to be in the correct answer choice. Units are your friends.

3. Relationships- You have no calculator on the MCAT so the plug-and-chug method that most of us used in our physics classes, is often not the correct way to most quickly answer a physics question. What are the relationships between the variables. If mass increases, what happens to momentum? Is that relationship direct or inverse? Again, this can help eliminate wrong answer choices with no calculations required increasing both speed and accuracy.

So, for those of you who are struggling with physics, remember to focus on your equations, units, and relationships. If you’re having trouble, don’t hesitate to sign up for Kaplan’s MCAT prep courses. The guaranteed path to higher test scores. Happy studying!

Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.