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A bit frustrated regarding my studies and progress.

  1. Sep 29, 2013 #1
    I'm taking Physics 1 this semester and am a bit frustrated. For starters, our instructor is not that great. The average grade for our first exam was a 68. I was one of only two students to make an A on the exam. However, despite doing well on that first exam, I don't feel like I am learning all I need to.

    So anyway, I have been spending a lot of time studying on my own. I have never been one to have to study much in the past to get an A, but I feel like with physics, no matter how much I study and no matter how much I learn, suddenly I see a new problem involving impulse, energy-work, etc., and I am left feeling confused and frustrated again.

    Just today, I completely messed up my equations because I was evaluating a work-energy equation based on vector values and changing signs for values incorrectly. I felt like I took a step back simply because I hadn't looked at a problem like that in a couple days. It took me like 30 minutes of racking my brain to finally realize what I was doing wrong.

    The concepts are (for the most part) very easy for me. It is knowing when various values should be evaluated based on the motion diagram (+ or - values) or when they are magnitudes (abs. values) and exactly what equations are optimal for a specific problem that get me sometimes.

    Is it normal to feel like you take a couple steps forward, then a step back from time to time? My Calc II this semester seems like a piece of cake to me. However, the physics is just something that I feel like is impossible to get down solid because of how expansive it is. I am just frustrated because I love physics and am focused on a physics major, but just feel like I don't have enough hours in the day to master it to the level I want to.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2013 #2


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    This is perfectly normal in my opinion.

    For most people, the further they progress in physics the less 'intuitive' the problem-solving will seem. That's just how it goes.
  4. Sep 29, 2013 #3
    I am exactly in your shoes. I feel the same way. My calculus class seems easier than my physics 1 class.

    My problem is similar to yours; however, I get the concepts, it's just when it comes to problem solving that's when it makes me frustrated. It's applying those concepts to the problems, figuring out how to set up the problem and so forth. Solving it is easy.

    I am also a physics major and I've been getting frustrated too. As for the labs, I don't learn much because it's like a cookbook; do this, do that, expect results. What do you expect though? Undergrad labs are for the most part like this, I think. I do read the lab that we are doing that day for class and I also read it the night before. I think my issue is that I can't go in early to prep, we're not allowed to mess with the lab equipment until the instructor is with us, but I don't know..

    I hope we both find some insight. :)
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  5. Sep 29, 2013 #4


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    Absolutely everything you mentioned is completely normal. It's a struggle. Amazing how difficult it can be, huh :biggrin:? But that's what makes it so great when you finally get it.
  6. Sep 29, 2013 #5
    Well thanks for the replies. It makes me feel a lot better about this. I have never dealt with this type of frustration before with any courses I have taken. Though physics has been a casual hobby of mine for about two decades, learning all the math behind the concepts I've read over the years is a completely different story.
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