Many students find mechanics to be a nightmare. It’s simply because they do not follow the right approach and try to mug up. They do not develop the understanding needed to attempt the problems. The result? It’s frustration and lack of confidence.
Firstly, get this fact right: JEE gives considerable weightage to Mechanics (about 25-30%) every year. This means one must pay a lot of attention to it. And, if you learn it well, you will enjoy Physics much more.
Some simple, effective tips and tricks can turn mechanics into one of your strong areas. Interested in knowing how this can be done? Read on!
Build a Solid Math Foundation
Physics for the JEE uses basic Calculus. Before you do anything with mechanics, you must get a basic idea of vectors and graphs. Also, it’s crucial learn to differentiate and integrate. Do you get sleepless nights thinking about mathematics? Here’s a useful article about it. How to Get Rid of the Maths Phobia
Finish Studying Chapters till Rotation. Then Identify your Strengths
First, complete the chapters till rotation. Do not hurry. Take your time. Also, do NOT attempt JEE papers yet. Solve easy and medium level questions.
To simplify learning, break Mechanics into these two modules:
- The part where you get to know all your basic concepts. This includes:
- Kinematics – Introduces definitions and key terms
- Newton’s Laws – Introduces force equations
- Work and Energy – Introduces Law of Conservation of Energy ( work-energy theorem )
- Momentum – Law of conservation of momentum
- Rotation – Torque equation and Law of conservation of angular momentum.
- The part where you apply them. It includes chapters:
- Gravitation
- SHM
- Fluid Mechanics
- Elasticity
Concentrate on Understanding Concepts and their Applications
- Identify and convert keywords into their meaning in physics
Let’s look at a few keywords and their meaning in physics.
- Do you what ‘maximum height’ means? It means velocity in the vertical direction is zero.
- What about ‘just begins to slide’? Static friction has reached its maximum value.
- A ball is dropped? It means its initial velocity is zero, relative to the dropper.
So, the idea is to make a list of such words and their meanings in a separate notebook/paper and keep revising it.
- Definitions of terms
How about answering this, folks?
Acceleration is always in the direction of velocity. True or False? Answer in your mind. Now read on!
Did you say false? Then you are correct. Acceleration = rate of change of velocity. So, it is in the direction of change of velocity, which may or may not be the same as the direction of velocity.
Bottom-line? Understand the definitions properly. Only then you can say that the ground work is done and you are ready for the real deal!
It would also be helpful to work on Conservations Laws (Energy, Momentum, and Angular Momentum) & Force and Torque Equations to get better clarity.
Solving Mixed Type Problems
JEE often tends to mix problems from 3-4 chapters in mechanics. With all the tools you have, you can solve them by the following a step-by-step approach. Thinking about Conservation – Equation – Definition (in the exact order) should be your mantra.
- Read the problem first and start asking questions to yourself.
- Always think about conservation laws first. Can you use conservation of energy or momentum in the question? Examples of such situations may be the spring-mass system, projectile splitting into two parts, a bullet fired from a gun, etc.
- If there’s a rotating body, can you possibly use conservation of angular momentum for that particular problem?
- If the problem remains unsolved, then use force/torque equations. Pulley problems, ladder based questions, etc. are best solved by this method.
- On a Kinematics problem, ask yourself if it involves relative velocity? Use the definitions here.
The Rest of the Chapters
After sufficient practice, you can now move on and finish up the remaining sections of mechanics. These chapters should now feel easy.
Please note: Give special attention to fluid mechanics. It uses all the concepts you have learned till now.
Use Drawings
A great way to learn is through drawings or graphics. There are immense benefits of drawings as they can be essential to understand and study physics. Whenever you can, we recommend that you perform a drawing to illustrate a concept just like Sheldon below:
Revision Schedule & Problem Practice
If you want to master mechanics, then you need to adopt a smart approach. It’s important to learn from every new problem you solve. Then try attempting a few similar problems till you get the concept. Make it a point that you pick a chapter from mechanics section and solve a few problems every weekend. This weekly revision plan helps improve memory.
Identify your Weak Points and Eliminate Them!
Are you finding it difficult to figure out the direction of friction? Or is it the calculation of work done? Maybe moment of inertia gives you the trouble? Set a challenge for yourself and pick such topics! Any wall is only as strong as its weakest point.
JEE has always been a competitive exam, and it tries to check the learning and adaptive aptitude of candidates. Pure knowledge of subjects coupled with an adaptive brain is what they generally look for in a candidate.
The techniques for mechanics mentioned above will help you at all levels, especially when used together. However, each student has their own way to learn and assimilate knowledge, so we recommend you try different tricks to discover which one suits you the best.
Want to solve mechanics sample papers? Click here.
Along with Mechanics, Electromagnetism has always been a favorite topic of paper-setters! Read about it in this article!