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I am failing my 1st year physics

  1. Oct 27, 2005 #1
    Hi to all,
    Almost 2 months ago I started my first year at university in Ontario with intention to major in EE. From six courses in my 1st semester (compulsory) Physics II -Mechanics is impossible for me to understand. So far 1 quiz and 1 test i got 20% in each, total failure, total disaster.
    I have just one more final exam to write in December and that one counts 30%.

    I am doing fine in Calculus I and Linear Algebra.
    Is there a hope for me? I guess I will have to repeat that course, or what should I do?
    Below is my course description.

    Physics II - Mechanics

    Newton’s laws, reaction forces, free body diagrams, friction, equilibrium of rigid bodies, torque, centre of gravity, linear and rotational kinematics and dynamics, conservation of linear and angular momentum and energy, moment of inertia, work and power, collisions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2005 #2
    Is anything preventing you from studying? Family/friends? Are there assistance rooms at your school? People there will be more than eager to help you understand topics... or your lecturer? people here on PF will be more than happy as well :)
    Are the course texts difficult to understand? Try picking up a couple of physics books from a secondhand store (or the library?), studying a new authors perspective of a concept/topic can sometimes be enlightening.
    Check out the ocw.mit video lectures for particular topics as well.
    Try and look over relevant material before and after class, keep your chin up. College is supposed to be hard and finding a course impossible is not uncommon, but you'll get through it and be glad you went to all that work.
    Best of luck! :redface: :smile:
  4. Oct 27, 2005 #3

    Tom Mattson

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    These two statements cannot both be true. And since the second one is demonstrably true, it must be the first one that is false. :smile:

    If you are determined to major in EE then you must repeat the course. To help you we have our Homework Help sections for brainpicking sessions, and we have our Physics and Engineering sections for more general discussion topics in those fields. Finding Physics Forums is a huge step in the right direction, because we have here what is quite simply the best website on the internet. :approve:

    If you try Physics II again with all your might, and still cannot pass it, then it may be time to re-evaluate your choice of major. But that is a serious step and should not be done without first consulting your academic advisor.

    Other than that all I can tell you is to post your specific questions in the Homework Help section. It will not be possible to diagnose your mental block without seeing your thought processes in action.
  5. Oct 27, 2005 #4
    Well, how well were you doing on your homework, this couldn't have come out from left field? I suggest now that the test is over going over the problems and trying new similar problems, usually with physics test at least for first year physics, there won't be completely new problems on the test, that is the teacher will have taught you the general method or concept behind certain types of problems, try to learn this rather than some way to particularly solve problem 69 at the end of the chapter. Also another challenge is the wording of a problem, again i suggest going over as many problems as you can and as Tom said if you get stuck go over to the Homework Help Section, there are some very smart people there that would be willing to help you. That is what i would recommend because that is what works for me, if i have a test i usually do the problems and focus less on memorizing and reading the chapter, after you do a few you'll get the hang of it, and harder problems will make you learn the concepts better.
    Plus that's an interesting screen name it's a letter off from a word in my native language, although the word isn't that flattering.
  6. Oct 27, 2005 #5
    Bice bolje!!! Yeah, If you can do Calculus you can do Newtonian Mechanics!!! It might take some work, but it is definatrely not impossible.
  7. Oct 27, 2005 #6
    Your first post... hmm, i'm guessing you recently discovered this forum a little too late. Makes me think I should start creating pamphlets of webpages I view on the Internet for education resources.

    Well, don't lose hope. Just work your self off on Interim courses. You can make it all up with interim courses, just know you're going to get very little sleep. And you need to stay calm.

    Stay calm, study well, meditate and take a breather once in a while.
    When I meditate I go outside to eat and breathe in some air while thinking about things.
  8. Oct 28, 2005 #7


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    Had you studied enough for that test and quiz? I think it happens to most of students at the first year of university. They find courses very different from what they've studied at high school and they think the courses?(especially physics courses) are too hard that even studying hard couldn't help. They think they're not able to understand them anyway and since even hard studies don't make any big difference, they just don't study, but it's not true. Or they just become frustrated that they don't have enough time to study hard for all courses.
    I myself had the same experience. But you know whenever I spent some time on my homeworks, I was able to get a good mark in the next day quiz.(even if I wasn't able to solve most of the problems at home)I was about to fail my final exam because I couldn't concentrate on problems due to lack of confidence( I just studied for my exam at the night before the exam, so I thought I knew nothing), and when I got home after the exam, the answers came to my mind 1 after the other.:frown:
    Anyway I think if you study hard, you can pass it.:smile:
  9. Oct 28, 2005 #8
    You need to take a good look at your study habits. The subjects you have listed are pretty common concepts in that is taught in classical mechanics. Take the time to read your textbook, go to office hours, work with your fellow classmates, and by all means study.
  10. Oct 28, 2005 #9
    Thank you all. I will try to study more and not rely just on my physics book from my prof but to read a much more from other sources.

    Thank you for your advices. I have to admit I am very stressed because of this failure and my parents are very sad bcs of my bad marks in physics.

    Who knows am I good in my mathematics courses but I did think that 81% in Calculus and 78% in Linear Algebra are good marks, I don't know. Maybe that is not good enough either.
  11. Oct 28, 2005 #10
    Plus that's an interesting screen name it's a letter off from a word in my native language, although the word isn't that flattering.
    you are right I took "budala" because i really felt stupid, and yes I took it from a Slavic language.
  12. Oct 28, 2005 #11


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    A lot of excellent advice has already been given. I can vouch that when you feel like you're sinking in a course. It is good to meditate or calm your mind with a walk. At the same time you can bolster your confidence by thinking about all the successful work you have accomplished. Use alternative texts; study in a group; use your exam (homeworks, quizzes) and try to understand the underlying concepts; work out more problems; ask questions here on PF. If your school allows you to drop a course, you might consider that route and take this course next time around.

    Many of us (myself included) have been right in your shoes at least once in our academic careers, (i.e. feeling of sinking or failing a class), by applying the advice here, you can still succeed! I overcame this kind of challenge and still graduated with honors.

    Reading between the lines:
    You peaked my curiosity talking about slavic languages. With a little digging, it seems Serbo-Croatioan spoken in Yugoslavia, use these words.

    budala = stupid
    bice bolje = things will get better

    Which spelling was What thinking?
  13. Oct 28, 2005 #12

    I thought you might be my countryman, so I said "It's gonna be better".
  14. Oct 28, 2005 #13
    Let me share my story with you:

    Took AP calc in HS. Therefore skipped Math 124 (limits and derivatives). Math 125 (integrals) started going downhill, but I got a 3.7 (VERY curved grade. I was doing pretty bad on tests). Math 126 (sequences and series) I got a 3.0 (again, curved. I was getting 60-ish percent on some test, never near 90%).

    Now I'm in Math 225, multivariable calc. First test in the course, I got a 77% when pretty much everybody else got 80%+. I thought it was all over. I studied HARD, I KNEW the material, but I got a lousy grade. I contemplated just dropping out of school and becoming a bum or something. Seriously. I want to be a physicist, but can't grasp calculus? I won't get very far.

    In the end, though, I studied even harder than I did before. This last week we had a mid term. Got my results back today and... 95%!!

    My only errors were forgetting to put a 2 somewhere (essentially, I copied the problem wrong when doing it on scratch paper) and in another part I was multiplying fractions, and somehow I multiplied the numerators but added the denominators (wtf???).

    Study, study, study. More importantly, try to grasp the concepts behind the formulas. If you understand why something works, you'll have a better time understanding how it works.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2005
  15. Oct 29, 2005 #14
    That's why I never do any calculations, whether or not they be as simple as 2/5 times 1/2, WITHOUT using a calculator... you don't know when your mind can screw you over. :rofl:

    I've experience something similar, although not as bad, as what you have in terms of physics...
    Usually, atleast I think, when you have a problem it's not that you don't know the stuff... it's just that you don't understand it...
    For example, do you understand how friction works? Do you know why we need friction? What's a normal force? (I never figured this one out until today... and I got an A in our college-preparatory physics course, hahah...)
    Usually it's just a matter of whether you're focusing, or grasping the concepts well, or not.
    And 81% in Calculus and 78% in Linear Algebra don't seem bad to me... but I'm not the kind of person to judge university course grades. :(
    All I can advise is you look for a good physics book from the local bookstore-- whether a formal textbook (e.g. Fundamentals of Physics) or a problem-solving/review guide (e.g. Schaum's)-- and study your ass off for that midterm of yours...
    There's always hope unless you think there is no hope, in which case you're screwed.
    Best of the luck to you and let us know how it goes!
  16. Oct 29, 2005 #15
    All I have to say is to try hard and hang in there, it will pay off, maybe not immediately but eventually you will see the fruits of your labor.
    I was thinking of the non slavic language of Albanian, the word itself may be borrowed from slavic, and in albanian budalla = stupid or goofy.
  17. Oct 29, 2005 #16
    Thank you to everyone for your support.

    The good news is I did study ALL day today. I hope I make it.
    I will let you know the final results.
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