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Can I be a physicist?

  1. Oct 13, 2012 #1
    I feel my dream has been crushed. I'm a sr in high school taking physics. My first test I got a b and and my 2nd test I failed hard. I still really want to be a physicist by I'm having doubts because of that test. Any thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2012 #2


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    Well, in intro physics there always seem to be two reasons why people fail test.

    1)Failure to understand the concepts fully.
    2)Failure in ability to apply the mathematics correct (algebra errors).

    I guess a third option would be both...

    Anyway, there's nothing stopping you, physics is hard for a lot of people at first. My advice, find out why you did so poorly, take steps to correct it, and drive on with the mission.
  4. Oct 14, 2012 #3
    Why do you think you failed? When mathematics and physics become harder, it is very easy to do poorly on a test due to time limitations. You could miss a minus sign or use the wrong trig identity if you are in a rush. Anyway, if it is your passion, keep on studying. If you get to college and don't do so well, no harm in switching to another major.
  5. Oct 14, 2012 #4
    No, your dreams have not been crushed. But it is essential that you analyze your test and your study habits. You should be able to say what went wrong and why. After you know this, it is crucial that you take action. If it turns out you should study a specific topic more, then you should do it.

    Being succesful in academics does not mean that you need to perform perfectly all the time. However, it does mean that you make mistakes and that you learn from your mistakes. If you don't do that, then you won't be succesful in physics.
  6. Oct 14, 2012 #5


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    I earned a C in high school physics. I then went on to get A's in college physics and earned a PhD in physics. Now I'm a physics professor. I'm not sure why I got a C in the class in high school. It just didn't make sense at the time. It made a lot more sense in college, so I'm inclined to think my teacher in high school did a poor job explaining concepts. I certainly remember him making a lot of mistakes. So no, your dreams aren't over - assuming you can actually learn the material next time you see it. Which means figuring out what's going wrong now. And trying to decide why you want to be a physicist in the first place.
  7. Oct 14, 2012 #6


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    Gold Member

    Physicist = Scientist

    Do you like coffee?
  8. Oct 14, 2012 #7
    There's a good chance that it's just not clicking for you at this point. I took physics in high school and hated it because my teacher was so bad at explaining the concepts and theories. I was really afraid and nervous about taking it in college (I wanted to be an engineer so of course I had to take it), but the professors in college are miles above anything in high school. They make it so much more interesting and exciting. They make it fun.

    I even failed the first physics test, but I realized that my study habits were really bad, so I utilized the free tutoring service offered in engineering and got back to a B for physics 1 and got an A in physics 2. Don't be slowed down by this one grade. Figure out what you did wrong and work to fix it for the next time. You can definitely still be a physicist!
  9. Oct 14, 2012 #8
    High school marks are far from perfect predictors of future academic success. How hard do you feel you have been working?
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
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