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2nd year math major with a lackluster performance in Physics I & II

  1. Dec 4, 2012 #1
    I'm just wrapping up my last semester at community college before heading to university, and while I'm likely to get A's in Calc 3, O.D.E. and Prob/Stats, this will not be the case in Physics II. I had the same instructor for both courses, each time was his first time teaching that course (he just recently obtained his master's).

    I had a B in Physics I and will likely end up with a B in Physics II, but I don't feel like this accurately reflects my knowledge of the material. Firstly, every test has a huge curve, (halve your score, add 50). My raw score tends to be anywhere between an F and a B, but I always end with at least a C.

    I've let the instructor know about my concerns and he's always had encouraging words, but I don't know if he's blowing smoke. He says it's a crash course in Mechanics, Waves, Electromagnetism, Thermodynamics, Optics and that most people miss a significant amount of material on their way through, including physics majors, but I'm not convinced. Other instructors have told me that his tests were way too difficult. Again, not convinced.

    I know that as a math major, I will probably never have to take a physics course ever again in my life. But I feel like I wasted two whole semesters with this and I got a fraudulent grade, and that if I want to do anything with physics applications with a B.S. or higher, I've already missed that opportunity.

    Anybody here ever been in a similar situation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Intro Physics is a crash course where you have to memorize formulas that work under specific conditions while at the same gaining a rough idea of how physics works. Later in upper level courses they start from first principles and derive these special case formulas and so you really begin to understand the physics.

    Prof Richard Mueller has a book and a course on Physics entitled Physics for Future Presidents that kind of sums up Introductory Physics in a nutshell:

    http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/physics10/pffp.html [Broken]

    So don't despair take some more advanced courses if you're interested in it like CM, EM, and QM. The math will be much heavier and perhaps more interesting.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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