How was your first test in physics?

  • #1
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Title says it all, how was your first test? Just wanted to see different viewpoints here out of curiosity. :)

Mine didn't go very well at all.. pretty disappointing. I was sure that I was going to attain a 100! Short story short, professor gave us practice problems and said that he would base the test on them, adding it will be easy. Instead he introduced a couple things that weren't on the problems at all or covered. There was only 8 questions in total.. I'm pretty much screwed.

Professor said that everyone fails the first test (still doesn't make me feel any more content with the grade.) BUT, he added, that he drops the lowest grade. So I guess its time to count my losses, learn from my mistakes, and aim for perfection on the next test.

Edit: So this is an academic guidance, lets share some tips/advice.

What I've learned was that it might be better to just go over the more challenging problems in the text, that way you have a deeper understanding. And also to have an encompassing knowledge of everything in the section in case your professor pulls a cheap one..
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I have mine in less than a week. The material is easy and the content the professor covers in the lecture seems trivial, but after looking at his past tests, I can see why the first test had a like a 39% average. Unfortunately, the test marks are not dropped and account for a major portion of the final grade.

What else do you think you could have done to help prepare you for the test?
 
  • #3
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I have mine in less than a week. The material is easy and the content the professor covers in the lecture seems trivial, but after looking at his past tests, I can see why the first test had a like a 39% average. Unfortunately, the test marks are not dropped and account for a major portion of the final grade.

What else do you think you could have done to help prepare you for the test?
Not listen to him when he said that hes telling us everything on the test and that its easy. While I guess you can say it isn't hard, it still isn't easy in the sense that at least 3 of the questions were just like SURPRISE in your face questions.

I really did prepare for this test and spent a lot of time. I did a lot of practice problems, but most of what I practiced for wasn't a big enough portion of the test. Its pretty sad when you think you nailed everything and something else comes up. Anyways, I don't think the same will happen to me in the next test. From now on its pretty much boils down to problem solving, basically kinematics and dynamics. As opposed to a couple things that catch you by surprise in the beginning.
 
  • #4
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Obviously, I think it is expected of us not to expect similar questions from the problem sets. If that were the case, then we truly wouldn't be learning the concepts and would just be primarily regurgitating. I have no problem applying and deriving formulas for completely different problems, the problem I have is not knowing how to approach a certain question and then the rest of the rest goes downhill for me. Also, looking at past tests, some of the questions don't even test knowledge of physics. For example, one question I remember seeing was "How should you hold a loudspeaker to project your voice to the left and right back corners of the room?". How would you deal with such a question if you were to see it on a test?
 
  • #5
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We just had ours, and I got like an 81 or something, but there must have been a HUGE curve because I still got an A. I noticed that many people around me got somewhere in the 50-60's but I don't know the letter grade they got.

It was a particularly nasty test though.
 
  • #6
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My first test I got a 32 on, then I got a 28 on my second exam, this was in AP physics B in High school. It wasn't till the spring semester of Junior year that I started to understand physics decently and I only improved since then.
 
  • #7
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I got a 100 on my first mechanics test. I had no idea how well I'd done and was surprised. Lately though, things have been going terribly wrong...
 
  • #8
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The trick is to do as many problems to prepare it as possible. Well, I guess that the strategy varies depending on the educational system. In Germany I have no 'tests' or midterms. I just have a 3 to 4 hours final exam for each class. And the exam is basically filled with problems. You always have to expect half of the exam to be filled with problems similar to those given throughout classes and assignments; and then another half of the exam, with problems that you have never seen (but of course, from the same subject lol). That's why going over additional –and harder– problems from textbooks is helpful.
For the record, I got a 97% on the first exam, i.e. an A (or 1.0 in Germany).
 
  • #9
Mine was a 74. I didn't exceed that until my last physics test, which was a 93. Made me feel good.
 
  • #10
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<snip> Short story short, professor gave us practice problems and said that he would base the test on them, adding it will be easy. Instead he introduced a couple things that weren't on the problems at all or covered.
<snip>

Edit: So this is an academic guidance, lets share some tips/advice.

<snip>
Consider this- maybe the test questions were indeed related to the practice problems but you didn't recognize that (and maybe still don't recognize that). It may help if you go to the teacher and work to understand how the practice problems relate to the test questions. This may point to some specific deficiencies in your reasoning or factual knowledge that you can then work to correct.
 
  • #11
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Instead he introduced a couple things that weren't on the problems at all or covered.
Like what?

Never pay attention to when the professor says a test will be easy. Ease is relative to what you know. My favorite was in one of my mechanics courses (may have even been the Marion & Thornton kind of level) one of the students asked about an equation cheat sheet. The professor said, "Sure! I'll provide one!" We go into class to take the test, said student reminds him about the cheat sheet. He replies, "Ah, yes!", walks up to the chalk board and writes, F=ma. It's funny because it works.
 
  • #12
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Obviously, I think it is expected of us not to expect similar questions from the problem sets. If that were the case, then we truly wouldn't be learning the concepts and would just be primarily regurgitating. I have no problem applying and deriving formulas for completely different problems, the problem I have is not knowing how to approach a certain question and then the rest of the rest goes downhill for me. Also, looking at past tests, some of the questions don't even test knowledge of physics. For example, one question I remember seeing was "How should you hold a loudspeaker to project your voice to the left and right back corners of the room?". How would you deal with such a question if you were to see it on a test?
Thing is, he told us the practice problems are the ones exactly on the test and all hes going to change is the numbers in the problem. -.- He said he wanted to make it easy for us. Very sneaky. I don't get why a professor would say something like that, I think its just lack of preparation; after all hes an extremely extremely busy guy. He assigned random problems and failed to follow up on his statement loll. Don't misinterpret what I think about him though, hes a very smart guy, he has a PhD in mathematical physics and I have a lot of respect for him. But when it comes to class he "just plays things by ear."

I haven't studied the projection of sound, hmm. I would answer parallel to the wall in between them, because sound waves disperse as distance increases, it should reach both corners equally?


Consider this- maybe the test questions were indeed related to the practice problems but you didn't recognize that (and maybe still don't recognize that). It may help if you go to the teacher and work to understand how the practice problems relate to the test questions. This may point to some specific deficiencies in your reasoning or factual knowledge that you can then work to correct.
Don't get me wrong, I claim full responsibility of not being prepared. It only motivates me to study even smarter. What I particularly learned is to basically try to understand every thing (its a good idea to tackle the hardest problems there is), because you never know what is going to be on the test. I also learned not to listen to the professor when he says something about the particular test!

I am well aware I wouldn't be in complaint if I attained a 100 like I thought I would. I know myself, I know the psychology behind things. My goal is usually to have an encompassing knowledge of things, which I thought I had coming in this test. But a couple simple things caught me by surprise and I guess I could have been better prepared.

One thing that is probably relatively easy but I couldn't solve is finding the angle between three dimensions. It is the easiest thing ever for me to find an angle between two dimensions but when it came to three dimensions I was stumped. I guess my problem is that I couldn't extend my knowledge to similar concepts.

Like what?

Never pay attention to when the professor says a test will be easy. Ease is relative to what you know. My favorite was in one of my mechanics courses (may have even been the Marion & Thornton kind of level) one of the students asked about an equation cheat sheet. The professor said, "Sure! I'll provide one!" We go into class to take the test, said student reminds him about the cheat sheet. He replies, "Ah, yes!", walks up to the chalk board and writes, F=ma. It's funny because it works.
Look for the above post to see what I messed up on.

Haha, your professor is devilishly deceptive. That is premeditated and deliberate evilness. :eek:
 
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  • #13
I got a perfect 100. To be perfectly honest I do have a unfair advantage against the average Physic students in my class. I double majored and my Computer Aided Drafting and Design program forced me to take MET statics and MET dynamics so taking intro physics is like a cakewalk. Before my academic career is over I would have taken 4 physics classes and MET statics, EE statics, and MET dynamics. Also he bluffed in my opinion. He acts hard but his test was super easy.
 
  • #14
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First test in ap physics I got a 93 because of 2 minor mistakes..
 
  • #16
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My first test was in PDE's (only worth 15% of my grade so more like a quiz, but 15% is still a hefty chunk), and it didn't go very well. My prof stressed almost every class that the derivations he had done in class were really important for the quiz material and that we should be able to recognize various steps and explain why they were done. He also gave us many practice problems to do in preparation for the quiz. Which weren't much help.

The 'solvable' PDE's on the quiz were difficult and I strongly feel that one of them wasn't even solvable (https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=535389) <-- I asked people to check my partial solution to it there, please check if you are inclined with PDEs.

Also, there wasn't a single derivation on the quiz, the closest thing to a step in a derivation was to apply Green's theorem to a simple integral that wasn't even necessary to use Green's theorem because the easiest solution was to show that the vector field was conservative.... Thus the integral = 0.

Everyone was pissed about it. But that's life I guess.

Moral of the story? Don't believe everything your prof says in class, do MORE than what he says to prepare.
 
  • #17
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My first physics test was in E&M I, and it went really well, but that was mostly because it was my second semester and I was already used to the differences between high school and university tests.

Especially now that I've started tutoring first year math/physics, I've noticed that that's one of the biggest challenges for people on their first few math/science tests in university. In high-school, you're expected to be able to copy what the teacher did in class. They expect you to prove that you've seen the type of questions that are on the test and that you know exactly how to handle them. In university, it's quite different. They expect you to show that you understand the material well enough to solve a problem you've never seen before, which happens to require the same skills that you used for other problems. They expect you to prove that you really know how to handle the techniques you've been given, and not just re-create stuff that's similar to what you've already seen or done.

The biggest mistake I think people make in university is that they try and study the same way they did in high-school: by trying to memorize all the different types of problems and how to solve them. If a test is well written, this method will be of very little use. It's much more effective to study concepts and try to really understand what's going on, using the practise problems as a way to practise applying concepts and techniques in new situations.
 
  • #18
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My first exam in physics went terrible and I recall thinking really negatively about myself and thinking I wasn't cut out for the sciences. I stuck through it and still managed to get an A after working hard to get nearly 100% on the next few exams. That was a good learning experience.
 
  • #19
stf
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Ugh. My first test surprised me with a 94%. Just had my second test which I completely choked on though. Will not be surprised to see less than 80% on it. This is what not enough studying does I suppose.
 
  • #20
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100 - I study physics none stop since I love it too much.. I've practically aced every test in physics since..
 
  • #21
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Ok. SO, I'm going to relate to my first high school physics test. I got about 85 percent, but I don't count that as the first real exam. My first real high school physics exam with a bunch of projectile motion stuff and vector stuff I got 40 percent on the test which was horrible and then on my force test I got 40 percent again. I was failing! But when we got to the last test on Magnetic Forces, I got 93 percent which was weird, but I deserved it because I started to really study hard for the class. It's not until this year when I'm taking intro college physics that I took my first test with projectile motion and content from the test I got 40 percent on, and I got it back and got 97 percent! :) SO, high school really got me prepared for college!
 
  • #22
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100 - I study physics none stop since I love it too much.. I've practically aced every test in physics since..
Good job, I am like that but some things threw me off first test for some weird reason. 100s coming up every next test-- I'm dedicated. :D

Ok. SO, I'm going to relate to my first high school physics test. I got about 85 percent, but I don't count that as the first real exam. My first real high school physics exam with a bunch of projectile motion stuff and vector stuff I got 40 percent on the test which was horrible and then on my force test I got 40 percent again. I was failing! But when we got to the last test on Magnetic Forces, I got 93 percent which was weird, but I deserved it because I started to really study hard for the class. It's not until this year when I'm taking intro college physics that I took my first test with projectile motion and content from the test I got 40 percent on, and I got it back and got 97 percent! :) SO, high school really got me prepared for college!
I remember getting 90+ in my physics test easily. So when it came to calculus-based physics I didn't pay attention at all in the lectures, and that was a mistake.

I agree that high school really prepares you. Heck, I don't even know if I would have joined physics at all if I hadn't taken that class. The course of my whole life would have changed, I probably wouldn't have been interested in maths either. I'm very grateful for taking that class because its that one transition from watching popular science to "ohhh so that's what I like!"

My first exam in physics went terrible and I recall thinking really negatively about myself and thinking I wasn't cut out for the sciences. I stuck through it and still managed to get an A after working hard to get nearly 100% on the next few exams. That was a good learning experience.
Yes! Exactly my point! I was feeling almost depressed because I felt I wasn't cut enough for physics. It was a terrible moment of my life because I've centered it around academia, only to feel stupid when I take my first test. But now I know better.

My story will be just like yours at the end of the semester =D.
 
  • #23
Got the actual results today I got a 74 :/ ... At least it was better than I expected.
 
  • #24
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My first college physics course (classical physics) went dreadful, which is still upsetting because it has kept my GPA down.
This, though, isn't uncommon at my college. The average for that class was a C (which was also my average). The material itself wasn't too hard, but my professor wrote his own textbook & his questions were insanely confusing. He's also one of the most thorough graders I've ever met.

Since then, I've managed to get a B+ in Modern, and an A- in particle physics (Griffiths' book), and my Laser physics class is going extremely well also. Both courses not taught by the professor that taught my classical physics course. I've avoided taking any classes with him again.

I definitely learned to take the homework problems more serious since that's what the tests will be based on.
 
  • #25
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I remember after my first physics test. It was 3 years ago now. I couldn't sleep that night. I kept waking up thinking of the errors that I must have made. As he was handing the papers back, I was already thinking to myself how I should consider changing majors.

I got an 88%. Whew, I can live with that, I thought. Maybe I can get a B in this class, at least.

When I learned that it was the highest grade in the class, I felt A LOT better, and slept very well that night.
 

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