Here are the steps to solving a problem involving Newton’s 2nd law.

**Step 1: Draw a free body diagram** – where possible, sketch a free body diagram to represent:

- the body isolated from other objects
- the forces acting on the body (ignore all internal forces) along the line of motion.
- the direction of acceleration.

**Step 2: Write down the equation: $$F_{net}=ma$$**

**Step 3: Add up the forces **on the left-hand side of the equation, making sure that forces acting opposite to the direction of acceleration are subtracted.

**Step 4: Solve** the equation for the unknown.

For example,

A horizontal force of 12 N is applied to a wooden block of mass 0.60 kg on a rough horizontal surface, and the block accelerates at 4.0 m s^{-2}. What is the magnitude of the frictional force acting on the block?

**Step 1: Free-body diagram**

**Step 2:** **Write down the 2nd law equation**

By Newton’s 2nd law, **$$F_{net}=ma$$**

**Step 3: Add up the forces making up the net force**

$$12 – f = 0.60 (4.0)$$

**Step 4: Solve for unknown **

$$ f = 12 – 2.4 = 9.6 N$$