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How to Solve All Difficult Force Problems – Framework

Jason Kuma
Jason Kuma

Writer | Coach | USC - Physics B.S & Business B.A. | Fremont, CA

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This brief article will help you master force problems via a simple 3 step framework.

Why You’re Here

In Physics, there are an endless amount of force scenarios. These include pushing objects, hanging masses, elevators, pulleys, objects on inclines, etc.

Memorizing equations for each situation would be impossible! Instead we derive equations from scratch to solve all Physics problems.

You’re here to learn, as quickly as possible, how to derive an equation and solve any linear force problem.

This can be quite difficult for some students, but the simple 4 step framework makes it easy.

The Force Framework

A framework is a general procedure to tackle a specific problem. Remember that this framework will guide you to solve problems. This is NOT a substitute for logic.

  1. Read the problem and turn the main object into an FBD. Make sure to think about any non-obvious forces, like friction or normal forces, that maybe acting on the object
  2. Break apart force vectors at angles into their x and y components.
  3. Find the net force in the x and y direction separately. This can be done with real numbers or in terms of variables, if not given numbers.
  4. Use Fnet = ma! Set the net force that you found equal to ma. Rearrange and solve for the missing variable.

LRN Forces

In this video I explain the framework and how to apply it to a problem. Jump to the next section in this article if you want to see me apply it to harder problems.

PS – Force Problems

This framework above can be confusing. So in the video below I go over 3 example problems to help you better understand the process.

Jason Kuma
Jason Kuma

Writer | Coach | USC - Physics B.S & Business B.A. | Fremont, CA

Get Tutoring

Units in AP Physics 1

Unit 1 – Linear Kinematics

Unit 2 – Linear Forces

Unit 3 – Circular Motion

Unit 4 – Energy 

Unit 5 – Momentum 

Unit 6 – Torque 

Unit 7 – Oscillations 

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