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I guess I get it, but I don't score well

  1. Feb 20, 2006 #1
    THe last few weeks have been disheartening...I study like mad and I do all of the work that is assigned in my physics class. I read the chapter and glance over it at least once before the test. The homework alone takes forever(not just for me, but everyone else as well). The teacher tries to be helpful with a "message board"; however, it seems VERY ineffective because he literly refused to help as far as guideance and many times tells me the obvious.

    The issue is not really the problems. I seem to do decently on all the numerical problems, but when it comes to conceptual questions...ARGH

    I guess it might be the way the tests are written but they always trick me and I seem to miss most conceptual questions. I just don't seem to have any faith anymore.

    I thought that Engineering might be my thing because I am interested and I like learning all the components of things but getting D's and C's on tests when I study 6+ hours makes me feel like crap.

    If I study that much for any other class, I am literally guaranteed an A.

    I just don't know what approach to take. I've never had such an issue.

    Anyone have any ideas on how I can improve my scores or what I can do to "get" the conceptual questions?

    PS: This is thermodynamics.

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2006 #2
    make sure ur understanding everything that ur reading.
    wat level...highschool ..university..?
    focus on conceptual questions ...maybe...dunno tell us more..
  4. Feb 20, 2006 #3
    my understanding of your concern is that while you get the "integrate this", "put these numbers in that equation" type of math drill questions, you don't get the questions(often involving passages with no numbers) where you have to apply the theorems to new situations.
    If that's the case, try picturing things as you read the textbook. Try to grasp intuitively what really is going on behind those math equations. This may take a long time. Sometimes I find myself reading the same sentence for 10 minutes trying to picture just what the heck is really going on (but then I'm a slow reader, too..). What distinguishs mathematical physics from pure math is that, things are supposed to "make sense" intuitively(unless of course, if you are talking quantum or relatvistic affairs) in physics, because they describe natural processes.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  5. Feb 20, 2006 #4
    Thanks you are right on. I'm going to give it a go around again and see if I can improve something on the next test.

    I'll try reading and understanding as you mentioned.

    If anyone has any other tips, please share them :). I need all the help I can get, hehe
  6. Feb 20, 2006 #5
    Studying only 6 hours for an exam seems light to me (well, it wouldn't have before this quarter, but I've finally taken real physics classes). For my electronics class (all physics majors in the class) we study (5 or 6 of us together at any given time) for 3-10 hours for each homework assignment(one actually took us 20 hours over two days) in addition to 10-15 hours for each exam. And this is usually spread over a few days, so we basically live in our department building from 9 to 6 or so, five, six maybe even seven days a week. And two people(out of 30) got an A on the first electronics exam. Six hours for a single exam isn't that much really, unless a class is easy.

    At any rate, I think phun makes some good points about how to approach the reading, and that will help. I would also advise going through the book and doing all the conceptual problems. Then check your answers with another student. The big thing with physics is that you have to solve problems in order to learn it, and you have to teach in it to others in order to master it. Go through all the tests again, and preferably discuss your answers with another student while checking them.
  7. Feb 20, 2006 #6
    Thanks for the advice. I had a study group(with another student who was serious) last semester and we did alright(we got B's, we weren't happy but we weren't going to cry either). I wish I had someone to study with but the few people that I know in the class are either too busy or don't have the amount of time to dedicate to it.

    You've put some light on the subject. And I felt like a retard studying so long :shy:

    Thanks for the insight again. I'm going to see what I can do for this next exam. I am taking a different angle at this one. I just wish my book would have the answers to the conceptual questions...I am reading everything and trying to see the derivation of the formulas.

    I'll see if I can take some pictures of the "tutorial" and see if anyone here can help me out on weather or not I am on the right track. We usually do these together in a group at school but that seems VERY ineffective.
  8. Feb 21, 2006 #7
    get beeter books aswell and use alot of books different ones ,you dont have to read them all but you can even attempt questions in them ,or check anything you want in them when ever you want(btw im refering to library books..nice and cheap...no penny droping neccssary).
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