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I feel like such a loser

  1. Mar 17, 2009 #1
    Today I got the results for my electrodynamics tests. I got 51 out of 100 points. I made the most stupid mistakes. I feel like I am not going to pass the class, I gave it everything I got and I still failed.I don't know what to do.

    /end livejournal post.

    What are some good books with lots of examples to study electrodynamics? If I'm going down I must go out with a bang. Any tips to help me study? The text we are using is Griffiths.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2009 #2


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    The best tip I have is don't be afraid to ask questions. With E&M a lot of knowledge is often assumed, but this assumption isn't always correct. You can always ask your professor to explain steps that get skipped in problem solving, or review relevant material. And chances are, if you have a question, you're not the only one.

    You have a good attitude. Fight the good fight.

    And things aren't always as bad as they seem. What was your mark in relation to the class average?
  4. Mar 17, 2009 #3
    2000 Solved Problems in Electromagnetics (Schaum's Solved Problems Series)

    Also get hold of recent past exam papers set by your school. See if there is a pattern to the questions set, and (using Griffirhs and Schaum) master the problems that follow the patterns that your school favours.
  5. Mar 17, 2009 #4
    Well, I didn't check how the rest of the class was. But most of them are like me, but why should I care how the rest of the class fares? Its not like we will share grades.

    I'll try to ask more questions to my preofessor, and I'll check out Schaum.
  6. Mar 17, 2009 #5
    Because if your class did bad as well, then the test was simply too hard. If they did good, then you are not cut out for physics.

    Bother your TA for more solutions to problems. The key to EM is solving lots of problems. Not just the ones on problem sets/HW.
  7. Mar 17, 2009 #6
    Obviously, never use it to cheat, but Cramster has all the answers to Griffith EM. I think the $10 a month youll need to dole out is more than worth it, even just to see solutions.
  8. Mar 17, 2009 #7
    Well, I investigated, looks like I am in the average here.
  9. Mar 17, 2009 #8


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    Have you ever heard of the curve?

    Often, professors are expected to have a certain class average. When the students do poorly on an exam, the grades can be increased to make that average. Sometimes they wait until the end of the semmester to do this.
  10. Mar 17, 2009 #9
    I've had classes where 60 or so was the best score in the class. Just goes that way sometimes with this subject matter.
  11. Mar 17, 2009 #10
    Yeah, but this teacher doesn't tend to give curves.
  12. Mar 19, 2009 #11
    i have no pity for TC
  13. Mar 19, 2009 #12


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    What is TC?
  14. Mar 19, 2009 #13
    My friends might hate me sometimes, but I'm not the kind of person to say "There, there. You studied for hours and hours and still got a lousy grade. It must be that damn teacher's fault!". Your intelligence clearly isn't the issue here, nor is the amount of time you put into studying. Try studying a different WAY. The amount of time you put in means diddly-squat if you stared at a page in the book for hours or did crap problems that had no relationship to what's on the exam. One hour of good, quality studying is better than ten hours of mediocre studying. Try to do more problem or buy a different textbook on the same subject if you want more examples or if you don't like the way your text explains things.
  15. Mar 20, 2009 #14
    Ok, I have been solving griffiths examples as I advance in class so I can arrive to class with questions. I may need to reexamine my study methos, can somebody give me some study tips?

    I usually read my notes and the book and then solve different problems from the book. I heard that making a summary of the book helps.
  16. Mar 20, 2009 #15
    When I study for Honors Calculus from Spivak's text, I make a summary. But this summary usually contains only the theorems in the chapter, which I prove again without guidance. The general idea is to treat the rest of the text as motivation and intuition, which should be read and understood. The theorems then serve to operationalize the intuitive ideas and reinforce them.

    As for the problems, you can always try finding a different syllabus from your own. Of course, this doesn't mean that those problems will be like ones you'll see on your exam. However, it gives you a place to start. From a short list of problems, the ones that don't crack within a reasonable amount of time are probably worth thinking about.
  17. Mar 20, 2009 #16
    I wouldnt worry about this, if everyone did slightly crap then it indicates a problem with the teaching or course material. Thats why academic institutions have grade moderation, if the course was deemed too hard or the teaching bad the grades will be shifted.

    If you are simply average at something, then that is nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody doesnt excel at everything they do, perhaps this subject isnt for you.
  18. Mar 20, 2009 #17
    Thanks for all the tips. I won't drop the ball again. I just can't afford it. The worse thing is that I actually love the stupid class and I understand the concepts.
  19. Mar 20, 2009 #18


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    I wouldn't worry about the pass/fail situation if everyone did poorly.

    But I would worry about whether or not you've gained a sufficient enough understanding of electrodynamics to move on to the next level. My experience has been that Griffiths writes great textbooks, but the key to leaning from them is to read them section by section (2 or 3 or 4 times if necessary) and at the end of each section do all of the problems, even if they aren't assigned to you as homework. At the end of each chapter, their are typically many difficult problems. They are time consuming but it is necessary that you do some of them. You should at least read through all of them, and try to think of how you would tacklle the problem if you were to do it. Then pick the hardest few and the ones that are highlighted as important by the author, and actually go ahead and do those.

    Like most things in life, hard work and practice, practice, practice are a recipe for success in physics more often than not.
  20. Mar 21, 2009 #19
    If you are asking 'does making a summary of the book help?' then you obviously need to read a book or two on study technique. Tony Buzan writes some good, general books in this area.
  21. Mar 21, 2009 #20
    The helpfulness of making summaries depends on so many things, as there is no set best method for learning a subject. Summarys may really help you, but they may not.

    If the subject is very question/problem based, I just practise every question I can and hardly make notes if ever.

    If the subject is more conceptual, summarising (rewriting) a book out helps me to learn it. I'll end up doing this several times, reducing the information each time till I have 1 sheet of A4 with key words and concepts.
  22. Mar 21, 2009 #21
    Don't lose heart. The first time I took it, I flunked my waves class, but that doesn't make me a bad human being. Don't be discouraged, and do come to grips with the fact that you're no longer a big fish in a small pond.

    By the way, I agree with MissSilvy that one hour of good studying is worth ten hours of mediocre studying. But you'll still need to study 10 hours daily anyway. If you're not, or if you can't, then that's a serious competitive disadvantage. Solving some of the problems in the book is nice, but you need to solve all of them. Summarizing the book is also nice, but do so with an eye towards making up problems of your own. Then solve those. Typically, I read the chapter a few times, and then try to write it (not just summarize it) myself from memory. If I can't, then I realize I didn't grok what the author was driving at in that chapter.

    I'm also a big believer in flash cards. But my brain is old, and I can't memorize like I used to.
  23. Mar 22, 2009 #22
    It's possible the teacher just made the test unreasonably hard on purpose.

    When I took E&M (a long time ago...) nobody did better than 50% on any of the tests. The final was take-home and collaboration was allowed, as long as collaborators were listed. It was basically no-holds-barred. We had four weeks to work on it. All 10 or so of us got together for 10 hours each of the four weeks, and we all listed everybody else.

    Our grades were all about the same (some people showed more or less work on some of the problems...) but the average was a 45%.

    Anecdotal, ok. But the moral of the story is that sometimes it's meant to be that hard... just get angry about it and try harder each time.
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