Study Tips

This is the part where previous qual takers can offer advice on how to best to study/pass the test.

Anat's tips and materials

Anat's study materials

Jonathan Whitmore's tips:

There are a number of things that I found helpful in my times studying for the qualifying exam.

One of the most helpful things was keeping a Qual Problem Binder, which I highly recommend doing.

Besides the Qual Problem Binder, I would spend time on flashcards for equations and "Things I Ought to Know" — don't make flashcards for entire problems.

Also, when memorizing stuff, take time to get things laid out in a smart way. It's just easier and more productive to have the spherical harmonics memorized in one big table in your mind rather than knowing exactly what each one is individually.

If you want concrete examples, let me know.

Finally, work lots of problems and keep your spirits up!

Ryan Kelley's tips:

Solve as many problems as you can! Do not look at the solution unless you get stuck. Really try to solve it yourself. Do not gloss over thing you don't understand, they will show up again when you don't expect it (like on the real test). Ask others for help if you can't figure it out—don't give up. In one case, Randy and I had to go to O'Neil himself.

Remember to clearly write out your solution. A clearly written solution will always get more points than the same solution that is sloppy! Don't skip too many steps and don't try to do too much in your head.

Mechanics and Stat. Mech/Classical Thermo are the most difficult sections (In my opinion) because of the unpredictable nature of questions. Study these hard.

Memorize major formulas that you may need (e.g. the eccentricity of an orbit, the instantaneous radius of curvature, the divergence in spherical coordinates, etc.). I used flash cards.

Oh, did I mention Solve as many problems as you can!

Good Luck!

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