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Failing a physics class. Grad school?

  1. Nov 15, 2009 #1
    I can think of at least one negative thing about having a physics final exam worth 60% of the overall grade. Namely, you can perform well year-round only to recieve a bad case of test anxiety when it matters most. I just took such an exam, and am now almost certainly (>95% chance) going to fail the class. It is only a freshman physics class, but it will be on my record nonetheless. My question is, are my chances now completely shot as far as going to a top 10 grad school is concerned? My grades are otherwise good (not great), but if I perform exceedingly well over the next 3 years, in addition to meeting all of the other requirements (research, etc), do I still have a chance?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2009 #2
    well, it is just a freshman course so it isn't that reflective on your overall prefermonce. I mean there is still a lot Physics course you'll have to take...doing good on them will make them overlook your freshman course.
  4. Nov 15, 2009 #3
    You're waaaaaay too paranoid. Don't even sweat it.
  5. Nov 16, 2009 #4
    Quite the opposite responses I was expecting. So failing a subject in one's major, even if only a freshman class, doesn't automatically put me at the bottom of the pile? I always assumed an 'F' on a transcript is near automatic exclusion from the top programs.
  6. Nov 16, 2009 #5


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    you have to retake it right? so it wont kill your gpa anyway. grad schools will look at overall gpa, physics gpa, and your upper courses. They probably wont care if you failed a first year course, if you retook it and got an A.
  7. Nov 16, 2009 #6


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    How did you do well in the course but are sure to fail the final so bad as to fail the class?
  8. Nov 16, 2009 #7
    Yes, I will have to retake it. But I was under the impression that both the 'F' and subsequent grade would be included in my GPA.

    As I said, the final was worth 60% of the final grade so it can easily turn a solid grade into a failing one. I felt reasonably well prepared going into the exam, but for some reason I became immensely nervous just beforehand, and during the exam itself I wasn't able to think clearly, I got light-headed and nauseous, heart palpitations, etc. I basically just freaked out, and I have no idea why. Silly, I know.
  9. Nov 16, 2009 #8


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    Nah, in many/most cases there's no automatic exclusion based on one narrow criterion like that. Any one thing that you don't do well on can, in principle, be made up for by other things.
  10. Nov 16, 2009 #9
    Well everyone on this thread is being optimistic right now. I'll be the first to say, its not going to help you that's for sure. Can anyone link to that thread where everyone listed their qualifications and what grad schools they got into? That was a real reality check for me.
  11. Nov 16, 2009 #10
    On the other hand, the top 10 is overrated anyway.
  12. Nov 16, 2009 #11


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    As an added thought, I think the more immediate problem is dealing with the test anxiety. Graduate school application is years down the road. Between now and then there will be many more exams, some of them worth more than 60% of the final grade.

    Not to mention once you get in you'll likely be faced with exams like the candidacy, the comprehensive, and your final defence.

    Failing a single class is not a show stopper. But you're not going to be as competative as the students who fly through undergrad with near-perfect marks in every class.
  13. Nov 16, 2009 #12
  14. Dec 14, 2009 #13
    Yikes! That is a reality check. :frown:

    Based on a cursory look over the applicant profiles, though, I think it's fair to conclude that attending a prestigious undergraduate school can make up for a GPA that is a tenth or two lower than perfect.

    I am in a bad situation right now in my own freshman physics class. I never knew that mechanics could be so mind-numbingly hard. I'm also attending a well-known university, though, so I think that it's fair to say my classes are very difficult. At least not all hope is lost...
  15. Dec 14, 2009 #14


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    I heard DeVrY is starting a Physics Graduate program...

    Just kidding.

    Just re-take it, and everyone will keep it husu-hush about what happened.
  16. Dec 15, 2009 #15
    I passed.
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