# What makes some questions a 'practice problem' and others a 'conceptual question'?

##### 1 Answer

A "**practice problem**", as I've found, is usually an exercise that tests students on their ability to directly **apply** essential concepts. They usually always involve some kind of computations that lead to a numeric answer. In the sphere of calculus, for example, a practice question would be:

Evaluate the derivatives of the following:

#3x + 9 = tan(y)# #ln(sin(4x)) = 3x# #e^(6x) + 3y = 0#

Each of those problems requires students to apply a certain principle (ex. implicit differentiation, chain rule) to solve them, and they all have some numeric answer.

A "**conceptual problem**" typically tests **understanding** of key ideas. Consider this physics problem:

You're pushing a crate along a flat, rough surface. Which of the below is **not** an 3rd Law Pair?

- Normal force between your hands and the crate
- Normal force between the ground and your feet
- The weight of the block on the ground, and the normal force the normal force of the ground on the block.

You need to have some understanding of what a Newton's 3rd Law Pair is to get the right answer (3) here.

In my experience, conceptual questions are typically more challenging, since they require a much better understanding of the concepts than practice questions do (better question-writers than me will write much more challenging problems). Also, the higher up you go in your education, the more conceptual and less computational stuff gets.

Hope that helped :)