101 Written Homework Format

     This format is REQUIRED for every written HW,
          QUIZ, and free-response TEST problem.

Step 1:  MAKE A LIST of your selected variables in the 
upper left-hand part of your page.  For each variable,
you must include a short written description, an assigned
symbol, and a value (if known) with proper units, or a
question mark if the value is unknown.

Step 2:  In the upper right-hand part of your page, draw an 
appropriate sketch for the problem.  Label relevant objects,
arrows, etc. in your sketch with their appropriate symbols
and/or values.  A VERY few problems (such as those that
involve only the manipulation of units) may not require a

Step 3:  Below your sketch, explain clearly, in words,
your strategy for solving this problem.  What physical
principle is relevant?  How does that physical principle 
relate to the objects, motions, forces, etc.  in the 

Step 4:  Below your description of your strategy, express
the relevant physical principle with an equation in the 
symbols you have defined for your variables.  If necessary, 
do the algebra required to isolate the unknown variable on 
the left-hand side of the equation.

do any necessary unit conversions (for example, you might
need to convert km/hour into m/s).  Very simple conversions
(such as cm into m) can be done as a part of Step 1.

Step 6:  Substitute the number value AND UNIT for each
symbol in the equation.  UNITS ARE REQUIRED AT EVERY STEP.
You cannot simply write in the unit beside you final answer;
if you do you will receive very little credit.

Step 7:  Do the indicated mathematical operations on the
number AND ON THE UNITS to get your result for the unknown
with units.

Step 8:  Check the reasonableness of your answer.  For 
example, if the unknown was the speed of a human runner, 
an answer of 100 m/s or more would not be reasonable.  If 
your answer is not reasonable, go back and check your work.
Wildly unreasonable answers will be graded harshly.

Step 9:  Draw a box around your answer to indicate that
you have finished this part of the problem.

Step 10: If a problem has multiple parts, a second sketch
may not be required.  Any variables listed in an earlier
part do not need to be listed again for the second part.
List any new variables needed for the new part, draw
a new sketch if necessary, explain your strategy, etc.