Basics of Motion

Basics of Motion

Uniform Acceleration and Linear Motion

For MCAT purposes, you should be able to apply simple equations involving problems that address linear motion and constant acceleration. Uniform acceleration involves movement of an object where velocity increases at a constant rate. Equations for linear motion and constant acceleration can be found using calculus, but it is much more efficient to just memorize the following equations.

x_{f} = x_{0} + v_{0}t + at^{2}

v_{f} = v_{0} + at^{2}

{v_{f}}^{2} = {v_{0}}^{2} + 2ax

For each of the equations above, v is velocity, x is position, t is time, and a is acceleration.

The simplest MCAT problems involving uniform motion provide you with a graph or diagram. You will need to recognize the different forms of motion and be able to quickly solve for an unknown variable using one of the equations from above. Keep in mind that certain terms in physics questions are used interchangeably, such as distance and displacement.

Save yourself time by limiting your focus on circular motion. Angular velocity and angular acceleration are not tested on the MCAT. However, the concepts are useful on the parts of the MCAT where concepts in translational motion are addressed.

Useful MCAT Tips

Take the time to memorize the physics equations. This will help reduce the amount of time it takes to complete these problems. However, it is not enough to memorize the equations – you must know how to apply the concepts to simple physics questions.

Draw diagrams and graphs. A visual depiction of a physics problem will help you simplify many problems. Once you have drawn a diagram, then use the diagram to determine the most appropriate function to use to solve the problem.

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