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How damaging is a low grade in Calculus II?

  1. Apr 23, 2010 #1
    I'm double majoring in Physics and Mathematics at a small liberal arts school, and I am currently a freshman, with a 4.0 GPA so far. Right now I am taking Calculus II, and I am becoming quite frustrated. I definitely understand the material, and have little difficulty with homework or understanding lectures, and I feel I am doing as well (learning) as I did in Calculus I, in which I earned an A. However, I am typically averaging grades in the sixties, and am lost on how. I will earn a 100 on a quiz, then a 65 on an exam, and a 30 on another quiz. I'll make a very simple mistake and earn a 40 instead of 100 on his weekly quizzes. I am planning on speaking to my professor during his office hours to see if I even have a chance of passing the course still, and if there is anything I can do to help my grade.

    How should I go about this? I don't want to seem angry with him, but I don't want to state that I feel I am a D student either. I am earning an A in Physics II at this very moment. If for some reason I fail the course, or earn a grade in the C range, will this hurt my chances at graduate school or REU programs? Calculus II is such a fundamental math course, and I am afraid it will end quite badly. Is there any way you recommend I approach my professor about it? He'll be teaching my Calculus III and Discrete Math courses in the Fall (that is if I don't fail Calculus II).
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2010 #2
    Not damaging at all. Everyone gets a bad grade at some point. Just make it a point not to have it happen often. Also, make sure you do learn everything you need to know about the subject at some point in time.
  4. Apr 23, 2010 #3
    Wow I am in a very similar situation.

    First semester I got A in Calculus 1 and about 3.9 GPA or something like that.
    Now second semester I just finished my exams and I got a C on my Calculus 2. I just found out about an hour ago, and I need a C+ to get into Calculus 3. I have no idea what to do, not only that but I was chosen by a physics professor to do summer research with him and now I am going to have to tell him this...

    Any advice from someone who has been in a situation like this or knows someone that has gone through it please share it.

  5. Apr 23, 2010 #4
    I don't think it matters at all, I mean the GPA, but the material you should get comfortable with.

    I took AP Calculus BC, and I doubt grad school will look at that. So no
  6. Apr 23, 2010 #5
    +1 on whats been said so far, one low grade doesn't kill you. Also, is there any scale associated with the class and have your grades been significantly below the average in the course? If there are a lot of lower grades on exams, generally professors scale up the final grade or individual exam grades to make up for it. So if you are around or above the class average, you're probably gonna get a decent grade anyway.
  7. Apr 23, 2010 #6
    Only one way to find out eh? Try and go with the flow in life, it'll make it a little more bearable.
  8. Apr 24, 2010 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I agree - one low grade doesn't matter all that much. But not having Calc II under your belt will really hurt you.

    You've said that you understand the material, but you just don't do well on tests. This is entirely possible. But if I had a dime for every student who told me this and who didn't understand the material, I could retire and move to Bora Bora. There is a huge difference between listening to a professor, nodding and thinking "that makes sense" and being able to derive it on your own. Many students confuse the first option with understanding.
  9. Apr 24, 2010 #8
    Do you not get tests back? It should be extremely easy once you get your tests back to figure out what you did wrong on the test, since they should be marking where and why you lost points.
  10. Apr 25, 2010 #9
    Thanks for all the great responses. I do get exams and quizzes back, but I find that I make immensely stupid mistakes at times. I will do the entire problem entirely correctly, except for one tiny sign error. I will go back and check over my math on the quiz or exam and it seems correct. I never make these mistakes on homework either.

    As for a scale, the class average on the first exam was a ~35% (I got ~50%), and on the second exam I was only 5% above the average, so if he scales it I should do alright. I just have to nail the final in two weeks.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear it won't kill my chances at grad schools in Physics. I just hope I do well in Calculus III and Discrete Math next semester, and supposedly the professor intentionally makes it nearly impossible to earn an A in Discrete Math, which is good for my education, but not for my transcript. I feel a little better now about it though. I just need to focus less on grades and more on learning. Thanks!
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