Physics, as you know, is a fairly difficult course for most people. What advice do you have for the current sophomores taking the AP in a couple of weeks, and what advice do you have for future students?
Dear Unscientific Uther,
Great question! Mr. Maine’s infamous physics class: one of the most fun and laid-back teachers combined with one of the most difficult and complicated AP courses. With the AP right around the corner, your best bet is to review every single test you’ve taken. Make sure you understand how to do every problem, and why you made the mistakes you did. If you are having trouble with that, don’t be afraid to go back and look at the lectures Mr. Maine posts on his website, or ask Mr. Maine directly. He won’t turn you away. Also, I recommend going online and practicing old AP free response questions. The more practice APs you take, the more prepared you will be.
As for advice for future students, Mr. Maine is the type of teacher that isn’t too keen on teaching from the book. When he lectures, he takes his material from various different places, including his own agenda, various old AP free response questions, and the Zumdahl book. For this reason, studying is no longer as simple as reading the book over and over again. Instead, the best strategy is to study Mr. Maine’s lectures directly. If you aren’t the type of student to take notes in class, worry not! Mr. Maine posts all of his lectures on his website, but don’t stop taking notes for that reason.
Mr. Maine will sometimes skip steps or explanations of “simple” things if he thinks everybody understands them. Because of this, it is very important to ask questions! If something confuses you, don't be afraid to raise your hand! Usually a point of clarification can go a long way.
In regards to his tests, Mr. Maine will usually pull questions directly from the AP. Thus, the best way to study is by doing old AP free response questions. Don’t forget to study his lectures, as he has a tendency to use problems similar to ones he demonstrated in lecture, with the only changes being the numbers.
If you’re taking a test and you have no idea how to do it or what the answer is, at least try to write something down! It’s always better to start some work than to leave it blank. Mr. Maine is very generous with partial credit, so he will probably give you points just for starting the problem. If you’re really stumped, never be afraid to answer “0” or “1”. Mr. Maine loves nice numbers, so he likes to make problems that have simple answers. If you do badly on a test, do test corrections! Mr. Maine will give you extra credit, and it’s a great way to understand your mistakes. In addition, he will raise your test grade by up to five points!
Last but certainly not least, do the homework. Even though you can technically turn it in whenever, always be sure to do the homework as soon as it is assigned; it’s the best way to understand whatever was just taught. Also, he grades by completion, not accuracy. Even if you never get any of the problems right on the homework, you’d still get a consistent 4 points for every assignment just by doing it. Plus, he’ll sometimes model test questions on homework problems he assigned. Not to mention the points add up, which can end up saving your grade.
Best of Luck,