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Allergy: Anti-amthematical disease

  1. Apr 16, 2004 #1
    I have no clue of what is wrong with me. I had a chemistry test this Thursday and I had studied thoroughly two days before the test. When the day came, my brain completely knowcked out and I could not remember what I should do to solve the problems. Some of reasonings were succesful because they were easy, but all the other things completely left all my consciousness. I doubt that I should immerse in chemistry next year, but I have never been the type to give up. No matter how hard I have fought for little result and how discouraging the result have been and how it has affected my selv-confidence, I have never given up.

    It was the mathematical part of my brain, though I do begin ot doubt that I have one, that faltered. Idiotically, some of the tasks in my books I had not gone through and these were necessary to be able to solve. I managed to get through them an hour before the test started, but it all disappeared when I started.

    Why am I so unmathematical? You know what? If I will not get high marks in physics and maths the next two years and because of that disgrace, be unable to study physics, I will take my life. Physics is what I want to do, what I want to live with and research in and if nature does not allow me that, I will take my life. Irrational, yes, but why do I have to be so rational all the time? That is another question..

    Please help or advice me or say something encouraging!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2004 #2


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    "No matter what your difficulties with mathematics, I assure you that mine are still greater."
    -Albert Einstein
  4. Apr 16, 2004 #3


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    Thallium, I am so sorry to hear about your test! Stress can do strange things. It sounds like you are normally capable of doing ok and this test is just a fluke?

    Don't be so hard on yourself, ok?
  5. Apr 16, 2004 #4
    This explains quite a bit of the problem you had on this test. One thing you need is a different study strategy. What I would do if this had happened to me would be to plan to go over everthing that might be on the test at least three different times, in three different places, before the test.
    The reason I say three different places is to overcome the psychological thing that sometimes happens when the test environment is quite different than the study environment. If you practise in different environments the information loses its subconscious associations with any particular environment. I say three different times for the obvious reason that repetition will set the information more solidly in your mind.

    Some people are enthusiastic about math in and of itself. I certainly am not. I got around this when I was in situations where I had to learn and use math by becoming enthusiastic about the notion that I could focus hard and learn it anyway. This never got me to the same level as the people who did it enthusiastically, but I never got a failing grade.

    Once you get into a specific area of physics I don't think you are constantly barraged with new math to learn every day like you are as a student. Things settle down and you work with the same range of math and formulas, according to your specialty.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2004
  6. Apr 16, 2004 #5

    jimmy p

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    that is just exam stress in general i think. You panic about stupid things. I got a bad grade in one of my physics exams last year because i forgot that when you drop a ball, acceleration is due to gravity, which immediately lost me 15% marks. Maths (in any subject) is a problem with lots of people (in England anyway) because the questions seem to be phrased so weirdly. In my maths class, only one person gets good grades whereas everyone else fails or scrapes a pass. In fact, 3 people (me included :( ) have failed 7 maths exams so far, and its our last chance this summer... which sucks.
  7. Apr 17, 2004 #6
    Thank you all for you encouraging replies! I will be allright. I will ask my teacher if I can take the test anew and I have to blame the unpredicted tasks I learned of the first 60 minutes before the test. I would need to let that information sink into me and I must control my logical reasoning. I know I can and I refuse to give up.

    Thank you for the great advice, zoobyshoe! That sounds like an extremely good idea!
  8. Apr 18, 2004 #7

    Math Is Hard

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    Thallium, you'll be just fine. You can tell my screen name I am a bit of a math-a-phobe.
    Sometimes it's good to practice taking tests to get used to the pressure. Get a classmate or a tutor to pick out some problems and make up a test, set the clock, and then take the test just like you were really in the exam. It's helped me a lot, because I work through my stress about running out of time. And as Zooby suggested, if you can test yourself in an alternate location - even better.
    p.s. Please, please don't let one tough class throw you off track. This was a HUGE mistake I made. I got a D- in high school algebra and I was discouraged for years. I convinced myself I was too stupid to pass college algebra and that was part of the reason I dropped out. When I went back to college I had a wonderful algebra teacher who was a genius at communicating concepts. He inspired me to keep going with math and science studies, so I did. Now I make A's in calculus and science classes. :)
    You will, too. You'll see.
  9. Apr 20, 2004 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    I would add that getting a good night's sleep and eating well plays a big role here. Learn to relax. When I first started college I had a lot of catching up to do [since I hardly attended high school] and I pushed so hard that I undermined my own efforts. I eventually learned to set time aside for the minor issues like survival, in addition to core of test preparations. I also learned that focus was very important. It is easy to think about the test and the time instead of the problems.

    In short, it is easy to go into a state of mental overload and exhaustion just before the test starts. It seems [for me at least] that the brain needs time to assimilate new information. For this reason I learned to always sleep after studying new material and before testing.

    Edit: When I was overloading with equations, laws, and theorems, I found that playing ping pong was the perfect way to clear my mind so that I could focus.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2004
  10. Apr 21, 2004 #9
    Ping-pong..? Hm. It helps for me to listen to classical music. Perhaps I should start doing that more often when practising! Thankk you for your positive comments! I hope that I get a better teacher in chemistry. She could have improved her way of educating the students, to be honest.

    But Math is Hard, you must have had mathematical talents. I am so unmathmatical and I WANT TO MAKE IT, but it has never gone well for me, except a 5 in algebra (gradesystem is 6 to 0 where 0 and 1 is failure and 6 is the best). I believe I am too mentally immature for mathematical challenges, but perhaps that is just a desperate wish..
  11. Apr 21, 2004 #10
    I can't say this out loud, Thallium, but it is the people who really like math who are immature. What's more, alot of hard core mathemeticians end up completely crazy. Don't tell anyone I told you this.
  12. Apr 21, 2004 #11
    More Words Of Inspiration

    This is the short prologue to a book I picked up recently for a dollar called Calculus Made Easy by Silvanus P. Thompson, Macmillan and co. 1910:

    "Considering how many fools can calculate, it is surprising that it should be thought either a difficult or tedious task for any other fool to learn hw to master the same tricks.
    Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who wrie the text-books of advanced mathematics-and they are mostly clever fools- seldom take the trouble to show you ho easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most difficult way.
    Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not hard. Master these thoroughly and the rest will follow. What one fool can do, another can."

    -Silvanus P. Thompson
  13. Apr 21, 2004 #12

    Math Is Hard

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    Nope. I wasn't born with any. I had to develop any math ability that I have(like building a weak muscle) with a lot of patience and practice.
    Basically, I am more art-brained. I like any math with geometry in it - because I usually get to draw pictures! :smile:
  14. Apr 22, 2004 #13


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    The main thing is pay attention in class. If you pay attention in class, you probably won't ever need to study (with the exception of remembering large amounts of information). Stuff the teacher says will stick with you better because it will be put in a more understandable way than any book can put it.

    Just take it easy; calm down. If you are nervous, have a drink or two. Booze won't make you smarter but it will prevent you from freaking out which is 100x worse.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2004
  15. Apr 22, 2004 #14
    I have never touched booze. At least I am wise enough to keep away from that. It would only consume my brain cells.

    I liked that quote, zoobyshoe! It was indeed a bit encouraging! I do need to concnetrate more and perhaps improve my study-techniques. I am also more art-brained. I am good at drawing, catching the details, shading and making the proportions, and I played classical pieces on the piano quite well. Even my mom imagines me as some sort of an artist in the future - and I will be - but with the art of physics!

    Being attentive during classes has helped me, but I forget everything that has to do with maths so easily. I am not the only one with this problem.
  16. Apr 23, 2004 #15

    Math Is Hard

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Einstein actually flunk the admissions exams the first time he tried to get into engineering school?
    My point is, everyone, even the great ones, hits a bump in the road now and then. And even the great ones have weaknesses that they have to overcome.

    BTW: Here's a quote about persistence that I have found very inspirational:

    "Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Calvin Coolidge
  17. Apr 24, 2004 #16
    Thanks again Math is Hard. Perhaps you will hear from me in ten years: "I recently took my Ph.D in physics! Thank you, you inspired me!" It might happen, you know. I will try and I will make it.
  18. Apr 24, 2004 #17

    Math Is Hard

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    When it does happen, I won't be the least bit surprised. :smile:
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