How to Tackle Problem-Solving and Quantitative Questions
Study for problem-based exams by practicing new problems
Taking problem-based exams
1. Understand the problem: Determine what you are supposed to find, what you need to find it, and what the unknown is (and if there is extra information). Consider whether drawing a sketch will help. Also – note each part of the question. Not answering each part is an easy way to lose points.
2. Determine a way to solve the problem: Write down all that is given or known. Draw a sketch when appropriate to show relations. Write down all relevant formulas.
3. Carry out the procedure you have devised: For numerical problems, try and estimate an answer first. This will help you to check your work later. Neat, careful work keeps you from making mistakes, and allows you to find them when you do make them (show your units!!). Additionally, when the instructor can see your work clearly, he or she may give you partial credit for what you do know, even if your ultimate answer is incorrect.
4. Check your Answers: This requires the same quality of thought originally used to solve the problem. Is your answer what you thought it would be in your original estimate? Is it a quantity that makes sense? Is your answer in the correct units? If your answer does not seem reasonable, rework the problem.