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?