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Other Bad grades in physics

  1. May 26, 2017 #1
    I'm currently finishing up my freshman year at a decent liberal arts college where I've been planning on majoring in physics. Next year I'm transferring to a big state school (where I will be working in a physics lab) and I'm unsure what to pursue. I was all set on physics until I took classical mechanics and received a C+ and I'm now finishing modern physics and will have C+/B-. I think I'm getting these grades because the classes are taught to memorize the concepts instead of understand, but it could also be my lack of comprehension regardless of the teaching style. If I were to graduate in physics, I would want to pursue a graduate degree and that wouldn't be feasible with my bad grades in physics.

    I've also considered majoring in physics engineering but the jobs honestly appear really boring. But for career track I wouldn't need fantastic grades and the course work does appeal to me.

    If I knew I would be able to get great physics grades in my next few years I would definitely go for a physics degree. But I have no idea how to actually improve my grades for physics. It seems like no matter how much effort I put in, I always do worse than the majority of the class.

    If you have any advice on how to study better for physics or what major I should pursue, let me know!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2017 #2


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    How big was your lecture class? Sometimes students struggle with the shock of large classes.
  4. May 26, 2017 #3
    My first physics class had maybe 60 people and my current modern physics has around 25.
  5. May 26, 2017 #4


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    If physics is what you really want to do, you should take a hard look at how you're studying and what you can do to improve your results.

    Some of the "usual suspects" ...

    1. Time Spent Studying
    How much time are you actually putting into your studies and how is it broken down? Does your performance improve if you put more time in? What competing demands do you have on your time and is there a way to devote more time to your studies?

    2. Effectiveness of Your Studies
    Consensus seems to be that you get the most bang for your buck by wrestling with and solving problems. Some people spend a lot of time just reading and think they get the concept, but don't do a lot pencil-to-paper work, which is what is most often evaluated in the end.
    When you encounter a problem you can't solve, what do you do? There's a balance between obsessively wrestling with it and seeking help - too far to either end of the spectrum can bring about issues.

    3. Effective Review
    Do you spend any time going over stuff that's been covered before to figure out how it fits into new material being taught currently?

    4. Test Taking Skills and Strategies
    Can you improve some basic test-taking skills? Learn how to effectively manage your time under pressure. Can you deal effectively with exam anxiety? How accurately do you predict the problems or questions that will be asked and are you practicing similar types of problems?

    5. Taking Good Care of Yourself
    There are a lot of external factors that can impact your performance in a course. Are you getting adequate sleep? Exercise? Are you generally eating well? Stress? Are you socializing?
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