Reading Comprehension in Physics

Written by John Gienau

Written for Professor Silverman

EDLA 615

Table of Contents

Page One: Title page

Page Two: Table of contents (current page)

Page Three:  An Introductory Mission Statement

Page Four: Vectors

Page Five: Forces/ Linear Motion

Page Six: Electricity (Circuits)

Page Seven: Waves

Mission Statement:

In physics today many students know the mathematics and theory well. However, they do not know the definition behind many vocabulary words. Therefore, I will outline many of the terms per unit I will go over. Defintions will be in the glossary as well as links provided by our coach Joseph.

In this book, I will go over each topic in this book and list the vocabulary words as well as an example question. The sole purpose of this book is to take any person who can already read and then enhance their physics literacy and reading comprehension by simply helping them with vocabulary in the content.


These pictures are drawings of vectors! This is the first unit in physics. On top of being the first unit in physics it is the foundation of the content in its entirety. It is important to know the definition of the vocabulary words behind this unit. They are as follows:





While reading a question in this unit, it is important to know and understand these vocabulary words.

In this unit you can be asked a question such as: Please refer to the diagram. Find the resultant vector produced by these concurrent vectors. Answers giving only a magnitude will be given half credit.

The next unit after vectors is forces and linear motion. Forces are very important to understand throughout vectors (just the definition at that point) and throughout linear motion. (which is why it is taught directly after forces)


Here are some vocabulary words to know for this unit and throughout the year:


Force of friction







Acceleration due to gravity


A question proposed in this unit could be as follows:

Neglecting the force of friction or drag, please find the final velocity of a ball that is dropped from rest at a distance of 2 meters.

Another way to rewrite the previous question from the vector page using vocabulary words from forces is as follows:

Please refer to the diagram. Find the resultant force produced by these concurrent forces. Consider their vector quanities. Answers giving only a magnitude will be given half credit.


Another unit in physics is electricity; predonimatly circuits and particle flow. Again, the formulas are provided for you and they are simple to plug in. However, not every student knows the meaning of the content and the almighty "why factor." Here are the appropriate vocabulary words to search for and know while reading a question in this unit:


Parallel Circuit

Series Circuit






Ohm's Law

Kirchoff's Law

A potential question proposed in this unit is as follows:

Using Kirchoff's and Ohm's laws please analyze the following circuit to calculate the overall resistance (or voltage or Amperage) of the circuit. Explain why this circuit is either series or parallel for full credit.



This picture is a wave which somebody is surfing! Waves are an important unit in physics. It is important to know the definition of the vocabulary behind this unit. Students can complete equations and solve problems; however, if they are asked to define words or asked the question in a written format many students might have difficulty.

Important vocabulary words for this unit are as follows:


Transverse Wave

Longtiudinal Wave





A potential question in this unit could be proposed like this:

Using the information given with the wave's anatomy (must figure out the wave's trough, crest, amplitude and if it is a transverse wave or a longtiudinal wave) find the wave's wavelength and how it oscillates through the surface. For full credit draw the wave pattern fully labeled.