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Courses Doing well in graduate physics courses

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I am currently a first-year grad student, and I'm having a little bit of trouble in quantum mechanics. I'm doing alright in E&M and Stat Mech. but on the quantum mechanics exams, I'm usually scoring about 10-15 points below the median. To study, I first make sure that I'm thorough with the concepts, then I work through extra problems that weren't assigned for homework, but I still don't seem to be prepared enough for the tests. The professor I have is known for being tough, but if I'm behind the majority of the class, there must be something that I'm not doing right. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2012 #2
    Have you carefully analyzed where you have made mistakes on your exams, homeworks, etc?
  4. Mar 21, 2012 #3
    An important question to ask is if you want to eventually do research for a career. If so, doing well in these classes is not really that important.

    Note that you will have the rest of your career to catch up on these subjects.

    General advice is to just ask as many questions about the the homework as you can until your time has ran out, and then just take the the exam and hope for the best. This is probably what you would do in actual research anyway, except in real life research there's not usually such an unrealistic deadline for understanding something as an exam
  5. Mar 21, 2012 #4
    @ Jorriss:

    Yes, I usually do pretty well on the homeworks, but if I lose points on an exam, I can understand why I lost points after looking at it a second time.
  6. Mar 21, 2012 #5
    What kind of things have you been losing points on?
    If you understand WHY you've lost points then you can at least start focusing on making sure you don't make the same kinds of mistakes
  7. Mar 22, 2012 #6
    How bad is that? If that gets you a B, and you are doing decent in your other classes, then I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    Maybe they are just better than you. Seriously.

    One thing that happens with academia is that if you end up in the top of the class, you just get bumped to a higher level, and eventually you will end up below average. Someone has to below average, and maybe this time its your turn.

    The first thing that I'd find out is how bad it is. If you are 40th percentile, you are getting a B, and the prof doesn't think that you are in deep trouble, I wouldn't worry too much about this. If you are 10th percentile and you are overwhelmed, then I'd worry.
  8. Mar 22, 2012 #7
    But the beauty of grading on the curve is that this may not help you. It may be the situation that you fix your problems, but everyone else is also, so you end up running in place.
  9. Mar 22, 2012 #8

    Yes, I'm getting a B in the class, but we have to maintain a B+ average in all our core courses. I have a B+ average now, but I just have to get at least all B+'s in my core courses next quarter. Worst case scenario, I'll end up retaking the class next year.
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