For science/maths students in general, and IIT-JEE aspirants in particular, learning the skills of problem solving is very important. Questions and problems in science (especially physics!) and maths contain factual, conceptual, theoretical and numerical ingredients all entangled with each other. And this makes solving them tough for the beginners. That is why students begin to fear Physics and Maths because these two subjects requires finest quality of problem solving skills from students. There is no universal technique that can solve all problems because different problems usually require different methods and approaches for successful solution. Nevertheless, if a student works systematically then soon problem solving will become fun for him/her.
Thus for the benefits of the student community (or any body who is interested in learning the art of the problem solving) I have presented below a sequence of steps that, if followed, can immensely help in solving questions in Physics and Maths.
- Read The Question/Problem carefully.
- Identify what is being asked.
- Make a list of knowns and unknowns.
- Note carefully the information given (Sometimes, some informations which are part of general-knowledge are not specifically given. Note such relevant informations – if any)
- Sketch a neat diagram or a rough graph to aid your thinking (Diagrams and graphs should be drawn in such a way that they describe the situation of the problem clearly)
- If you can make an estimate of the final solution (by reasoning or some logical guess!), then you must do that. Because at the end when you actually get your answer by solving the problem then you can check the truthfulness of your answer by comparing it with your estimate.
- Write a verbal description of relationship among all quantities.
- Write all relevant formulae known to you involving known and unknown quantities.
- Examine similar problems to see if their solution techniques are applicable.
- Look for a pattern so that you may think upto many steps ahead of your calculations.
- You may start with a special simpler case to gain insight.
- Sometimes a problem may be broken into two or more number of non-overlaping cases and each case may be solved separately.
- DO all calculations according to your decided plan.
- Check your solution with your estimate and graph. Does it make sense? Does it seem resonable?
- If every thing seems fine, then you have got your solution.