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How do I know if its me or my study habits?

  1. Sep 24, 2014 #1
    I am tired of getting sub-par scores on exams. I do not know what I am doing wrong, or if I am simply just not intelligent enough to handle the material. For the last test in Physics I spent 4-5+ hours/day for 4-5 days studying prior by doing practice problems, reviewing material I do not understand and seeing my teacher for help. However, it still came out to be a very low B. When I am reviewing I feel like I am understanding. I feel like I understand almost everything I am doing on the tests. Yet I still lose a lot of points on the stuff I understood very well the days prior. And it is not due to silly mistakes, it is me doing something completely wrong even though I felt I had

    I am tired of this because nothing seems to be working. I do not want to waste time on something if I cannot do well in it despite countless hours of attempting to succeed. I do not think determination or drive is enough because it obviously is not for me. I am unable to tell if I am doing something wrong or if I do not have the mental capabilities do perform well.

    For those of you who have historically not done well in science, how were you able to perform better? Are there people that simply cannot grasp these concepts and it may be more worth my time to spend time elsewhere? If I can't understand fundamental physics concepts in high school I do not think I should even be thinking about pursuing it in college.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2014 #2
    Try engineering.
  4. Sep 25, 2014 #3
    Well, I can't do that quite yet considering I'm still a senior in high school.

    But I'll give engineering a try when I get to college if the university offers it.

    It still raises the same question though, how would I be any better at engineering than physics?
  5. Sep 25, 2014 #4
  6. Sep 26, 2014 #5


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    A few thoughts:

    1) I'm probably lifting a lot of eyebrows by saying this but I don't approve with the "studying for tests/exams" concept. Ideally I study right after every day after school or after each lecture until I am confident that I understand everything taught. I should only need a few reminder on memorization intensive stuff before tests/exams/assessments.

    2) From your description it looks like you are capable of grasping the concept but you have trouble understanding the questions. I may have misinterpreted your post thought, your first paragraph looks cut off. If understanding questions is indeed your problem, then ask your teacher to help you with that. You should be able to find patterns and certain keywords to identify what the questions are looking for.

    3) "Not good with physics? Do engineering". Jokes aside, this is not how things work at all. Science and engineering aim to achieve different goals and therefore require different ways to approach problems. In a oversimplified way of looking at things, engineers may solve less rigorous (rigor isn't very well defined btw...) problems, but they have to worry about practical complications to greater extents. Besides, if you do something with a mindset of "I'm doing this before I'm not smart enough for (inset whatever you wanted to go for)," you are going to be miserable for quite a while.
  7. Sep 26, 2014 #6


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    Your experience isn't exactly uncommon, and it's almost certainly your study habits. Fortunately, it's fixable. First, you should rid yourself of the notion that you do not have the intelligence to succeed. Succeeding requires effort, but as you've discovered, effort alone is not enough. You need to use your time effectively. Succeeding at physics requires understanding. It's one of those subjects where you really can't fake it for too long before it catches up to you.

    These presentation slides are from Dr. Saundra McGuire, a chemistry professor who learned how to help students just like you:

    http://www2.palomar.edu/stem/events/Fall2014/Palomar%20College%20Students%202014.pdf [Broken]

    It's geared toward college students, but the ideas are relevant for all students.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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