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How hard is it to get A's in physic classes?

  1. Sep 4, 2011 #1
    Hello Physics Forums!

    I am new to this forum but have definitely been browsing through here for a while now. I am just wondering how hard is it to get an A in physics? I am talking about the beginning general physics with calculus. From what I have seen, students at my school seem to have a really hard time getting As. I am currently in Physics 2 (electromagnetism) with a instructor who seems to give out really difficult exams (from what I read). So I am wondering if it is possible to achieve an A with pure hard work? And from hard work, I mean hours and hours of studying.

    I am near my transfer date to a University from a community college and I need pretty much all A's if I want to have any chance. Physics for some reason is killing me. I just don't seem to understand how to work out problems. So please give me some advice on what you had trouble with and how you overcame it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2011 #2
    Of course it's possible to get an A. I have never seen a class in my entire life, from Kindergarden up to my senior year of college, where an A is impossible. Have you?
  4. Sep 4, 2011 #3
    I'm sure it is possible but from what I've seen so far, the students in my class struggle really hard and only get a C at best. Generally, in my class, only 3-4 students receive A's and some B's and a majority gets C's. Is it possible I am in a class full of lazy people?
  5. Sep 4, 2011 #4


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    LOL! There is no way we can meaningfully answer your question.

    I have knew a prof who gave tests to separate the A's from the B's. His classes were hard, you had to earn an A in his class and only a few did. Another prof gave easy tests, his grade distributions were half of a Normal distribution peaking at the A's. Over half the class got A's.

    So you want us to tell you how hard it is to get an A??? LOL.
  6. Sep 4, 2011 #5
    Define hard? I guess I'm looking for tips on how to get an A
  7. Sep 4, 2011 #6


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    some of my courses were as easy as winning the lottery, exam questions have little resemblence to the materials taught in lectures

    the other courses, the more typical ones, A- ~ A+ is definitely achieveable, just don't procrastinate as much as I do and you will be fine
  8. Sep 4, 2011 #7
    E&M I is usually considered to be the engineering weeder class at my school, since it's usually the first time people see 'real' university physics as well as being the first time people actually have to really apply calculus to something. The average on most of the major tests was around 50%, which they considered to be 'pretty good' compared to previous years. (They made the passing grade on the final roughly 35% so that enough people would pass the course) An A was 85+, and an A+ was 95+. My friends and I spent a ton of time on that class, and despite it being such a notoriously difficult class, we all got at least A's. I would find it pretty unbelievable that the four of us just happen to all be geniuses, so I'm pretty sure it was the fact that we worked our butts off more than anything else. Yes, it's doable. Honestly, I'd say the most important thing is that you really want to learn the material. If that's the case, you're more likely to work hard, and you're more likely to try to really understand things and not just memorize concepts.
  9. Sep 4, 2011 #8
    This is the kind of response I am looking for! Do you have any advice for studying? I always do good on homework/quizes but exams screw me over pretty hard.

    The average grade in my physics class seems to also be around that area 50-60%. I think I am letting the statistics of the class get to me.
  10. Sep 4, 2011 #9
    This might be obvious but check if there are sample exams that the professor might post on their website. Physics Exams are all about knowing and applying the concept not memorization, so i highly suggest for you to Google practice problems prior to the sections that the class covered before the exam.
  11. Sep 4, 2011 #10
    The fact that your peers are in a community college should give you an indication on their ability and willingness to spend enough time to grasp calc based college Physics.
  12. Sep 4, 2011 #11


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    Not sure what this has to do with anything. Sounds like egalitarian BS.
  13. Sep 4, 2011 #12
    There are obvious ways to study that I am aware of. Things like read before coming to lecture, do practice exams, do TONS of problems. I am looking for a deeper way to study. For example, what goes on in your head while you do the problems? What are your steps?
  14. Sep 4, 2011 #13
    I think you already have the basic ideas down. Do physics everyday. Work tons of problems, ask questions in class(or if you are afraid like everyone else, in office hours). Do proactice tests, form study groups.etc.... imserse yourself in the subject and you can make an A.
  15. Sep 4, 2011 #14
    Well, there's no single method that works for every person, but personally I prefer to do a few hard problems and spend lots of time wrestling with them as opposed to doing tons and tons of easy/mediocre questions.
  16. Sep 4, 2011 #15
    Surely you meant elitist.

       [ih-gal-i-tair-ee-uhn] Show IPA
    asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life.
  17. Sep 5, 2011 #16
    Hi! My uncle loved physics when he was studying for his undergrad. He was a straight A student growing up in in the US. He told me that one of his physics professors was very hard and brutal. He used to give crazy exams and multiple choice questions that have very similar 6 options. He only managed to get a B+ in the class, but when he asked his other friends they had recieves c's , d's and some even failed. He was among the very few to receive a B+ in the class.

    My point is , when you base your decision on a letter grade or a mark, it does you no good because your working for the mark rather than trying to understand the material. You need to try to do your best in whatever you attempt and excel at that. Don't worry about the marks because once you study to understand it automatically helps you get the marks you deserve! Just try your best. Hopefully you get an A. Good luck.
  18. Sep 5, 2011 #17
    Quoted for truth.
  19. Sep 5, 2011 #18
    Physics isn't just about memorizing a bunch of facts, it is a course where you need to understand the material in order to get a better grade. Getting an A only means you understood the material fully and were capable of mastering the questions on tests and the homework.
  20. Sep 5, 2011 #19
  21. Sep 6, 2011 #20
    I'm going to have to disagree with you and Astrostudent here. Yes, outside of undergraduate education physics isn't as much about memorizing and simply absorbing facts. Unfortunately, I've had experience with many students who get A's by simply memorizing tricks and employing other tools to set up their equations, coordinates, etc and apply straightforward techniques to solve problems.

    So, my advice for getting an A? (and I learned this the hard way) Don't question what you're told by professors as much, take them for a given (at least in the context of getting a passing grade). Why do you think a majority of Asian students do so very well on exams and in school? A majority I've noticed employ ticks and techniques to get results (not necessarily a bad thing in the academic setting) and don't necessarily question what they're given. Pay particular attention to 2:40 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBfHXePM2Y"

    It's a sad truth about our education system that (perhaps until grad school) getting an A is really mostly technique oriented, and there's simply too much information to absorb where you don't really have time to intuitively understand or question things a whole lot.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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