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How was your first test in physics?

  1. Sep 29, 2011 #1
    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..
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2011 #2
    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?
  4. Sep 29, 2011 #3
    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.
  5. Sep 29, 2011 #4
    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?
  6. Sep 30, 2011 #5
    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.
  7. Sep 30, 2011 #6
    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.
  8. Sep 30, 2011 #7
    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...
  9. Sep 30, 2011 #8
    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).
  10. Sep 30, 2011 #9
    Mine was a 74. I didn't exceed that until my last physics test, which was a 93. Made me feel good.
  11. Sep 30, 2011 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    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.
  12. Sep 30, 2011 #11
    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.
  13. Sep 30, 2011 #12
    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?

    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.

    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:
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  14. Sep 30, 2011 #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.
  15. Sep 30, 2011 #14
    First test in ap physics I got a 93 because of 2 minor mistakes..
  16. Oct 2, 2011 #15
    Horrible :(
  17. Oct 2, 2011 #16
    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.
  18. Oct 2, 2011 #17
    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.
  19. Oct 3, 2011 #18
    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.
  20. Oct 4, 2011 #19


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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.
  21. Oct 5, 2011 #20
    100 - I study physics none stop since I love it too much.. I've practically aced every test in physics since..
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