Hello readers! My name is Munirul Alam, and I was a national champion of the Bangladesh Physics Olympiad in 2018 and regional champion in 2016, 2017 and 2018. I’m writing this blog post in order to share my experience, which I hope will be helpful to guide you in your preparation.
So let’s come to the main point. In order to win a medal at the Physics Olympiad, you don’t have to be a superhuman or something. People who participate in PhO and win there are all normal people just like you. So, how do they manage to triumph over the battle? In this post, I will try to answer your question. First of all, there are three categories in BDPhO, and I will divide my post in three segments based on each category.
Three categories in the Bangladesh Physics Olympiad are Category A (Class 7-8), Category B (Class 9-10) and Category C (Class 11-12).
It’s very nice to know that you are fascinated about physics at such an early age! Usually people who start early end up as one of the most successful ones. পদার্থবিজ্ঞান প্রথম পাঠ by Dr. Muhammamad Zafar Iqbal will be a nice and easy book to start off. It contains a lot of good problems, and the text is more accessible to beginners. You can also going through the class 9-10 physics textbook. But I personally prefer the first book.
As a beginner, you can also start with non-calculus physics textbooks like "College Physics by Alan Giambattista, Betty McCarthy Richardson, and Robert C. Richardson” or "Physics by John D. Cutnell, Kenneth W. Johnson”.
If you are in Category B, your first and foremost task will be finishing the class 9-10 Physics textbook properly. You can also have a look at the older version of the textbook, which used to be little more comprehensive. When you’re done with 9-10 textbook, you can move on to building up good problem solving skills. You can find previous problems here (Click Here). Pause.
Now that you’re done with your physics textbook, you should aim higher and start reading either “Physics by Halliday, Resnick, Krane (HRK)” or “University Physics by Young and Freedman”. Keep in mind that these books are calculus-based physics texts, and a prior knowledge of Calculus will give you an upper hand. This note by Emroz Khan (one of the past problem setters of Physics Olympiad) will be helpful in this regard (Click Here). Or, you can read any good Calculus textbook or take online course to solidify your mathematical knowledge.
You can use MIT OCW Single Variable calculus course taught by Prof. David Jerison(https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-01-single-variable-calculus-fall-2006/). Watch the first 20 lectures and you will know most of the basic stuff you need.
Now it’s time for Category C. Well, if you are in category C and wish to do well in BDPhO, you should have finished HRK or University Physics by now. You should start studying An Introduction to Mechanics (Kleppner and Kolenkow), Electricity and Magnetism Third Edition (E.M Purcell and David Morin), and Thermal Physics (Schroeder) to strengthen your understanding on particular topics.
While books are essential lecture series might be more helpful to master stuff. Walter Lewin’s video series is a gem of any physics lover. My most favorite physics teacher and favorite of most physics students.
Here are Walter Lewin's Lecture Series 8.01(Mechanics)[Link], 8.02(Electromagnetism)[Link], 8.03(Vibrations and Waves)[Link] Ramamuri Shankar’s lectures are very handy to master topics. His lecturer series Mechanics [Link], Electromagnetism and Quantum Mechanics[Link].
Also, you should start solving the past IPhO Problems , which can be found here (Click Here). A lot of other stuffs can be found at the BdPhO website (Website) and Science Olympiad Blog's server (Click Here). Quora (Link) has a lot of nice answers on Physics Olympiads ranging from national to IPhO. You may want to check those.
If you want to ask any questions you can reach me at my mail(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Facebook(www.facebook.com/munirul15)
Hope that you’ll rock on the Physics Olympiad! All the very best.
Written by Munirul Alam.
Edited by Shahreer Zahan.