IIT JEE Physics Essentials – Do this before you start ANY Physics preparation

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IIT JEE Physics scares a lot of students. If you do Physics properly, in a methodical and step-by-step manner, it is one of the most scoring subjects in the JEE.

What’s covered in Physics for the JEE?

Physics in class XI and XII covers most of what is called “Classical Physics” (i.e. physics after Newton and before Einstein).
Although a few topics from modern physics (physics after 1905) are also covered in the JEE & class XI/ XII syllabus, it is only the basics of what was done by Einstein & his contemporaries like Bohr, Heisenberg etc.

Mathematics for IIT JEE Physics

Mathematics required to study classical physics (physics that you must study in order to crack the JEE) is much more evolved than the mathematics that a student in the Indian education system does till class X.
In-fact, once you understand this “new” Mathematics, most of Classical Physics is a breeze. It becomes very easy to understand and you can solve a lot of so called “tough” problems without even breaking sweat.
(The Mathematics required for modern physics, i.e. physics past 1905, is even more evolved and gets partly (only partly!) covered when you take up Mathematics courses during Engineering.)

Through class XI and XII, you cover the required “new” Mathematics for JEE physics, but it is done over the two years unfortunatelymost of it being covered in class XII only, whereas in order to understand even the most basic topics in Classical Physics fully, you need to have a good grip on this “new” Mathematics before studying the topic.
Thus the first and foremost thing you must do before you even start reading a word of Physics (of class XI or of class XII) is to get a decent grip on this new Mathematics.

But didn’t we just say that most of this “new” Mathematics is part of class XII syllabus?
Yes, unfortunately it is, and if you avoid covering it till it is taught in your school/ coaching in class XII, you will delay developing a solid understanding of physics.

The simple reason that most students struggle with Physics throughout class XI and XII is that the mathematics required for it is being covered alongside and not before doing serious physics!
As a result students quickly develop a phobia for physics and never recover in their 2 years of preparation.

Let’s understand this “new” Mathematics and how to cover it quickly & efficiently for our physics preparation.

The “New” Mathematics

By class X a student covers mainly Arithmetic and number systems, Euclidean geometry (lines, triangles, circles, parallelograms etc.), basic algebra (Algebraic expressions, Equations – linear, quadratic) and some coordinate geometry.
All this mathematics, though good, falls way short of the Math required for understanding JEE level physics.

The main topics in Mathematics to know for IIT JEE level physics are

  1. Calculus: Functions, Limits & Continuity, Derivatives & Applications, Integration & Applications
  2. Vectors

Now in order to be able to do the topics in A (Calculus) above, one must understand a bit of advanced trigonometry (covered in class XI) & some coordinate geometry as well (Straight lines, covered in class XI).

Accordingly, before starting any serious physics (of JEE Level) one must cover Advanced Trigonometry, Coordinate Geometry, Calculus and Vectors.

The important point is that you do not need to cover these topics as thoroughly as you will cover them when preparing for JEE Mathematics. You just need to be reasonably familiar with these topics.

How do you cover JEE Physics level Mathematics topics quickly?

Our humble advice is to use the NCERT text books for these topics!!
We advise you to buy class XI and XII Maths textbooks of NCERT and do the corresponding chapters from these textbooks quickly – say within a month of reaching class XI.
Alternately, you can download individual chapters for free from NCERT’s website.
These texts cover the basics of these topics and are the best source to quickly get a basic familiarity.

The chapters to be done are (2014 edition NCERT books):
Class XI:
Relations & Functions (Ch 2), Trigonometric functions (Ch 3), Straight Lines (Ch 10), Limits & Derivatives (Ch 13)

Class XII:
Relations & Functions (Ch1), Inverse Trigonometric functions (Ch2), Continuity & Differentiability (Ch5), Application of Derivatives (Ch 6), Integrals (Ch 7), Applications of Integrals (Ch 8), Differential Equations (Ch 9), Vector Algebra (Ch 10).

Read the theory, do the practice/ exercise questions and learn the formulae.
Do not dwell too much on this phase of your preparation – make sure you do not take more than 1 month to cover these topics from NCERT quickly (you can always revisit them, if you have mathematical doubts during your study of physics).
Once you are done with these topics, you are ready to take up even the most challenging topic in class XI and XII physics – infact Physics will become a lot more easier to understand and comprehend.

Don’t believe us?
Even one of the best books in physics for JEE preparations (H. C. Verma) covers some of these Mathematical preliminaries at the very beginning in a separate chapter! (We feel that it does not cover it too deeply though, and that’s why we recommend NCERT).
There is just no running away from Mathematics if you want to have a solid base in Physics.

All the best in your preparations!

Note: You may be wondering why such important Mathematics topics are covered in class XII and not XI.
It is indeed puzzling why the education boards have decided to do so and have continued to do so over the years. In our view, a lot of students face problems in PCM due to this strange categorization of topics in Mathematics that Indian education boards tend to follow.

Rohit Mehra

IIT D , IIM A grad with a passion for education, especially STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math). Love the JEE and the way it has evolved through time ... keen to help students crack it.

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2 Responses

  1. ayush shende says:

    I’m in the mid session of my class 11 and i am done with nothing of jee but i want to crack it. I haven’t joined any coaching and doing self studies. How should i make it possible

    • Rohit Mehra says:

      Hi Ayush … it is a brave path to prepare without any coaching institutes.
      And though it is difficult, but it is entirely possible to get a good rank in the JEE (Mains and Advanced) without coaching.
      I would request you to look at my JEE preparation tips (physics and Maths).
      I have provided a gist of how to prepare well on your own below:

      For understanding the concepts & theory:
      1) I would recommend that you buy second hand material of some coaching institute from a senior (if you can). Or buy correspondence subscription of a coaching institute.
      Alternately, you can go for reference books as well. For Physics I recommend DC Pandey or HC Verma, For Mathematics I prefer TMH and for Chemistry I like the Wiley Maestro series. Don’t buy too many reference books – you will get confused.
      2) I think Video lectures compliment very nicely any reference books you may have. For e.g. you can listen to a video lecture first and then do a chapter from the reference book or vice-versa. You should consider these.
      The process should ideally be: a) Watch video lecture of a new topic, b) study topic from reference book c) Do practice questions on the topic (at-least 50 to 100 if not more) d) Make a 2 page summary of the topic in your own words (add concepts from questions in this summary).

      Question practice:
      After you are done with the above phase for any topic, you should do as many questions as you can for it – from any source.
      I would recommend question banks provided online (often for free – you just need to subscribe). Books like Disha’s 3000 challenger problems and their 38 years JEE papers are also recommended for question practice.

      Once you are done with the above two, your topic is done for now. But you have to constantly revise to make sure things are embedded in your brain. During revision of any topic, try to use only your 2 page summary to revise and then practice 20 – 25 odd questions in the topic (preferably half new and half that have been done earlier and marked by you as “good”).

      If you are able to follow the above broad cycle for every subject and every topic, you will see your preparations really take off.

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