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Feeling very discouraged

  1. Sep 26, 2011 #1
    I just took my first Physics I(An honors intro mechanics course) test. I know I did very poorly, probably a low C or high D. The professor told us that it would be similar to a practice test that he gave us, but it wasn't, it was much more difficult. It was timed and I literally only finished a little over half of it. As an aspiring physics major, this is very discouraging. Did any of you now physicists, grad students in physics, or upper-div undergrads doing well do poorly in your first semester of physics? Has anyone else had this experience?
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2011 #2
    If you haven't gotten the test back yet, how do you know you'll have a bad grade? Does he curve? It could be that no one in the class finished so there could well be a 20 point curve.
  4. Sep 26, 2011 #3
    How well did you know the material in the test? Could you have done better if you had a little more time to prepare?

    ***Edit: From the above post, I realise that you haven't even got your results back yet. So try not to worry until then***
  5. Sep 26, 2011 #4


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    The first university midterm I had in physics (which I think was my first university exam ever) was a 13/30 (which got bumped up to 13/25 because the highest grade in the class was 25/30). After that I figured out how to properly study for physics tests (do as many practice problems as you can). Did I still have some poorly-done midterms since? Yeah. Did they matter in the end? Not really. No single midterm is going to ruin your university career. Use it as motivation to do better. In the end of my undergrad career I had a few bad midterms, and the only grade I ever got less than an A- was a B in advanced quantum, and that was due to a badly done final!
  6. Sep 26, 2011 #5
    Part of taking a class like Physics or well, anything really, is figuring out the professor's personal style in regards to exams, quizzes, homework, lectures, attendance, etc. If you haven't mastered physics yet, do not worry, there will be plenty of time for that. It comes with time, but you should also be cognizant of your professor's teaching style - and you will also get better at reading him/her over the course of the semester so it should get easier from here on. ;)
  7. Sep 26, 2011 #6
    I'm also feeling pretty discouraged at the moment for my physics career because of getting problems wrong/doing dumb mistakes. Its very disheartening! I have been very sad the past couple days because it really makes me double think if I'm "smart enough" (pursuing theoretical physics) and I've been stressing lately. But I'm trying to tell myself its only because I've been slacking due to me overestimating the easiness of the material. I didn't take it seriously and only started practicing last weekend. Anyhow I've been busting my *** now and have been feeling stressed because of being discouraged of my abilities.

    Deep down inside I know its all just because I haven't taken it serious, but still something bothers me oh so much. I'm feeling even more discouraged than you my friend and I haven't even took the test yet. I think part of the reason is my expectations.. I aim for a 100, so I guess I'm getting stressed because I noticed I've been doing mistakes on my practice problems.

    Test is Thursday, I'll update you after I take the test on how I think I did and then later when I get the grade. Still aiming for an A. :eek:
  8. Sep 27, 2011 #7
    be discouraged when you get your test back and see you got every problem you answered wrong. don't discouraged by being a slow writer. exam technique can be improved.
  9. Sep 27, 2011 #8
    Usually in physics exams, writing speed isn't the the problem, its getting your head around tackling the problem.
  10. Sep 27, 2011 #9
    I wouldn't feel discouraged. It sounds like you haven't even given a full effort so perhaps you shouldn't use this experience to gauge your potential. Pursuing physics will require constant effort and new learning; much of that learning will come from solving problems, and making mistakes is an important part of that process.

    Instead of asking yourself whether you are smart enough, I think you should ask "given the effort, can I learn this?" I hope the answer is yes.
  11. Sep 27, 2011 #10
    Very true. I came in class more prepared and I feel better this time. I think the worst part is putting high expectations on yourself and comparing yourself to the more mathematically mature people. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and doubt toward your abilities and future goals.
  12. Sep 28, 2011 #11
    I went to UVa in the early 60's. As engineering students physics was required for our first 2 or 3 semesters. As I recall, my test average for the first semester was in the 50%range. I got a C for the semester so you can imagine how bad some test scores were.

    One thing I noticed was that students from other parts of the US were much better prepared for college level courses than I was. I also suffered from making 'dumb' mistakes on tests. I can recall that many times I would finish my test, turn it in, then realize what a foolish mistake I made as I was walking back to the dorm. This happened frequently with me during my undergraduate years. I finally outgrew it during graduate school.

    Just hang in there and do the best you can do. Good luck to you.
  13. Sep 29, 2011 #12
    I can definitely familiarize with this now. See my "How was your first physics test" thread.

    I practiced.. A LOT. But somehow I ended up pretty much in the same position as you. Though, it was a learning experience. Next test: 100.

    Use your past as your motivation. :) Redirect your anger/distaste into preparing even harder/smarter!
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