UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How do you find the right formula in any problem?
Question Date: 2017-05-17
Answer 1:

This is an interesting question, and is very problem dependent. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when problem solving. The first is to consider what variables you are given, and what variable(s) you are trying to solve for. The next thing to consider is what equations you have available to you and how the variables in those equations match up to the variables that you are considering in your problem. Can you find an equation which consists of all of the variables you are using, without any extraneous variables to consider? Or can you find a couple of equations which you can combine to get the same effect If so, take that equation, and then manipulate it algebraically to obtain an equation which has the variable you are solving for on the left side, followed by an "equals" sign, followed by an expression! I hope this helps!

Answer 2:

This is a really broad question. I think there is no easy answer that can apply to all. I do think there are probably some ingredients (maybe not a complete list) that can be helpful:

a) Never stop learning. I mean not just the text books. You can learn from everywhere, classroom, internet, friends, people, ...etc. This would serve as the basics.

b) Critical thinking. Some problems may look tacky, but once you understand the essence, they won't be that scary anymore.

c) Communicating. Just like that you are asking questions here. You may get the good solutions from another experienced person. There are many other resources that you can turn to. Don't try to solve all problems by your own.

Answer 3:

There's no simple answer for finding the right formula in any problem. Learning and thinking are the only answers I know. I sent your question to my brother who used to teach math in high school and college. I asked him if he had any words of wisdom. If he has an answer, I'll send it along.

That's a question you can work on for the rest of your life!

Answer 4:

One of the hardest part of moving up levels in school is the sheer amount of formula and equations you need to know. This gets really stressful; however, there is some ways to solving problems easily.

First, try to understand what you are reading. Then, try to find clues to what you are solving.

For instance, if a word problem states how long something is, you know the answer needs to be some meaurement such as meters, instead of grams (as grams is talking about an amount rather than the height of something). Also, look for certain key words such as "average" or the "probabilty of", which can further help you know which formulas to use.

Know that there are a lot of formulas, but most of the formulas are actually derived by a simple formula.

I guess a more simple way to knowing which formulas to use is A LOT of practice! Whenever you do a problem, keep trying to make a connection with the formula to the problems. As you get more and more used to the formulas with the problem, you will get better connecting problems to formulas.

Answer 5:

Physics has equations that describe the various elements in nature. The trick in doing most physics problems is figuring out what the various terms in each of these equations are. It's basically a word problem. What you want to do is to narrow down the list of equations and the list of unknowns until the number of unknowns is less than or equal to the number of equations. Solving it at that point becomes just an algebra problem.

Answer 6:

That’s a great question. Formulas are incredibly important in science, and though it may seem like there are a lot, they are all related in some way! Formulas depend on variables, or things that can change like time and distance. My advice to you is to write down all of your variables as you read the question, and then look for formulas that contain the variables you have and the variable that you are missing!

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use