For example, getting a visual idea of your frame of reference, or of the difference between up (positive) and down (negative), can mean the difference between a right answer and a wrong one. Go on, Picasso, give it your best shot, and move on to the next step.
Sometimes your professor will test your unit conversion skills.
Read the question carefully – this isn’t the time to skim. Word problems are confusing only because they hide the actual variables inside them.
Sometimes, you will be given extra information that you won’t really need.
What you are expected to do is to understand the concepts and use the tools available to you.
The most important of those tools are the formulas.
This semester I started tutoring in the physics and math study center.
I am the only “pure” physics tutor – the rest of the tutors are mathematicians or engineers who feel very comfortable with mathematics (justly so, they’re all quite awesome).
This is true for most of physics questions, and absolutely true in the lower level physics.
As a student of basic physics, you are not expected to reinvent the wheel – or even understand how the wheel was invented in the first place.