A student asks: How can I make M1 less confusing?

A student asks:

I am currently doing Mechanics at college and I am finding it very confusing. What can I do to help get my head around the work?

This is another slightly-hard-to-answer question; because I don't know the student, or what s/he is struggling with, it's really hard to give concrete advice. However, I've seen enough students struggle with M1 to be able to guess! Here's my reply

Thanks for your message - I can't give you very detailed advice, but I can make some suggestions about what I know many people struggle with in M1. To get yourself less confused, I recommend:

  • Making absolutely sure you know the difference between a force, an acceleration, a velocity, a speed, momentum, and a moment. A huge proportion of M1 errors have their roots in this.
  • Drawing big, clear pictures, and getting good at working out which angle is which.
  • Shoring up your trigonometry so you can tell when you need a sine and when you need a cosine.

Hopefully there's something there to help you - good luck!



Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


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I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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