Updated: Apr 11, 2020
This year october I've taken part in the Princeton University Physics Contest, as I began to develop a recent interest in physics after studying physics 1. My life until now has been quite distant from physics, as it didn't seem so fun to me.
However, from last year, after studying AP physics 1 and continuing my studies onto physics C, I discovered how the abstraction of physics was so captivating in and of itself, and had spurred me to find more competitions about physics.
So, I came to take the PUPC, which is a prestigious physics competition. Because I hadn't been into physics previously, I didn't have much knowledge or experience of physics olympiads a month before the test. I began to study extensively a month before, but I didn't expect to get a prize before I took the test.
But very much unexpectedly, I received a congratulations email from the PUPC administration, which said that I had won 10th place!
Very unexpected email. Wow!
Award. I hope next year "first" replaces that "tenth"
So I guess sharing some of the ways I studied would be quite helpful for anyone trying to prepare for a hard test in a short amount of time.
I think all test preparations are the same.
Think of yourself as an AI, and the learning process becomes so blatantly obvious:
input--> analyzing and pattern finding--> execution--> modification--> input-->...
First, I realized that there is limited time and it would be impossible to get a high score. So the essence should be making the most out of the marks that I know I could get, and just boldly giving away the marks I know I couldn't get. I knew my strengths, which were maths and kinematics. So I solved many past papers, and found out that in every past paper, there was at least one kinematics question that required me to find out the rotational inertia of a given object using the parallel axis theorem. I practised only this evaluation until I could get better at it, and found some other types of questions that I could easily solve if the rotational inertia question didn't come out. I practised getting just
my friend and I before the test
those ones right, and modified my solution so it became more efficient every time after solving a past paper. I repeated this for around 2 weeks until I became used to it so that I could carry out those calculations even under duress.
At the test day, I was nervous and made some mistakes that made me stutter during my calculations a lot. Regardless, I could solve two questions out of four, but seeing my score, I guess my answer to one of the questions was just pure shit.
Anyways, I am honestly very glad that I've gotten something proportional to my effort.
Next year, I will try to get somewhere around first place.
Some more pictures of happy me