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Courses I only got a B in Calculus I :(

  1. Dec 7, 2018 at 6:37 AM #1
    I tried my best but the result doesn't match the effort I've put in.
    First when I know my result I freaked out and questioned my competent.

    Am I mathematically-inept?
    Am I cut out for a Physics Phd?

    End up with ~70% on this course and I'm taking Calc 2 this December.
    I need to maintain >=3.00 GPA for my scholarship program.

    Could you guys give me some piece of advice?

    Sorry for my broken English.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2018 at 7:09 AM #2
    I'm surprised a 70% is a B, in Florida that's a C-, but I got mid 60's my first run at calc 1 (D), had to retake, then passed calc 2 (harder), calc 3 (honestly not that bad) and differential equations (absolute nightamare) I got C's in all of them but I've passed all the math requred for engineering. Made A's in physics 1 with calc 1 and physics 2 with calc 2, taking physics 3 with calc 3 this semester.

    I guess my point is the pure math classes seem more difficult than the physics classes that require the use of that math, for whatever reason.

    The real reason for this is once you pass the classes you never really stop using the math, but you use it practically and more and more specifically. I find the calculus of electrical ciruits easier than calculus for economics because I use it in that context so often I am comfortable with it.
  4. Dec 7, 2018 at 7:16 AM #3


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    With a B in calculus? Absolutely not! I had to take Calculus 2, Vector Calc, and Differential Equations twice each before passing, and it wasn't because I was bad at math. I just had other issues I was dealing with in life/school.

    Go to tutoring if your school offers it, go to office hours, study with other people if that helps you, put more time into studying and doing math problems if you have the spare time, etc. There is no magic method that makes you learn math very quickly. It takes a lot of time and effort, with the exact amount varying per person.
  5. Dec 7, 2018 at 8:09 AM #4


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    B's in Calculus and required courses such as Analytical Geometry and Linear Algebra should serve you well in Physics. I personally never repeated a course but my first college Physics courses were not accepted oddly when my major changed from Math to CS with minor in Stats. I spent years taking college physics courses -- actually helping fellow students as I worked at NASA for Informatics while earning a CS degree. Great fun and I met many cool instructors, students and scientists.

    Test your analytical skills. Do you recognize common shapes from equations and vice-versa?

    After completing Calculus I to IV ABCD plus a little combinatorics, I could walk around Ames research center and identify what people were working on from glancing at equations on whiteboards. Helped me design data structures that fit.
  6. Dec 7, 2018 at 8:39 AM #5
    I realize I misread the question objective,It told me to use shell method but I used washer method, I think the graders wont give me partial credits for that work.
    And another mistakes I did are some arithmetics errors during the integrations.
  7. Dec 7, 2018 at 8:46 AM #6


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    Yes, even within a math course where the instructor tells you the equations that apply, that application can be tricky. As mentors have posted, the equations in physics courses may be more straight-forward to compute since you have a physical model.
  8. Dec 7, 2018 at 8:54 AM #7
    Is there any chance for me to do better in the next course?
    Is it realistic for me to go from a mere B to a B+ or even an A?
    Here this is my next course's midterm syllabus

    -Improper Integrals
    -Parametric Equations
    -Curves Planes and Surfaces
  9. Dec 7, 2018 at 8:59 AM #8
    And -Spherical Coordinates
  10. Dec 7, 2018 at 10:43 AM #9


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    Ending the course with a 70% average doesn't bode well for the follow-on course. As another member mentioned, 70% would be C- or lower in most/many colleges in the US. If the 70% score is more reflective of what you learned than the B grade is, you are likely to get a much lower grade in the Calc 2 class.
  11. Dec 7, 2018 at 11:34 AM #10


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    I suggest working again all the questions you got wrong on the test. That way you will know the material at least after the fact, which is what matters going forward. E.g. go back and work that volume problem by shells that you worked by the easier slicing method, and work the arithmetic over again that you got wrong. And do this for every test you took, and ideally also every homework problem you missed.

    You must assume that every single topic from the previous course will be needed at some point in the following courses. On the other hand, for applications to physics, theoretical topics like proofs may not be needed as much as understanding of the ideas and their uses. So even if you only got wrong questions like "prove the fundamental theorem of calculus", you may be ok in physics. But you should understand why that theorem is true in some way, or for some easy cases.
  12. Dec 7, 2018 at 12:31 PM #11
    The exam was extremely tough,most people in my major get only D to D+ and Only 2 of us made it to A.
    The ones who've made it to A were the ones who scored over 80% (32 out of 40) on midterm.
  13. Dec 7, 2018 at 1:02 PM #12


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    These are not errors with the concepts, they are errors from not being careful enough. It means that you should be more careful in reading the question and doing the arithmetic. If you have time at the end, spend it by going carefully over the work you did. I would not retake the class unless there were concepts that you had trouble with. But it is important to be able to do the calculations reliably and to double-check your work. It's a learned skill.
  14. Dec 8, 2018 at 3:29 AM #13
    Its strange how grading differs throughout the world. In Canada an 80% is an A, a 70% is a B, and so on. In the UK a 70% is a "first" (equivalent to an A).

    Towards OP: I wouldn't worry. I got a C in calculus 1 but an A in calculus 2. Just keep working harder and find a more effective study strategy. Your first term of undergrad matters, but not acing everything matters less than you think it will (a B is not bad).
  15. Dec 8, 2018 at 4:41 AM #14


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    A trend seeming to happen in some places had/has been a strict 90-80-70-60 scale, in percents, for A-B-C-D-F; meaning, minimum for an A is 90%, and on that way.
  16. Dec 8, 2018 at 6:20 AM #15


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    Curious if the underlying statistical data derives from actual classrooms and laboratories. Do physical lectures attended by participants provide benefits compared to remote learning?

    One can list several perceived advantages and disadvantages of both methods indicating compromise with mixed techniques is in order. Attendance at lectures seems to skew across the school term with dense physical presence to begin tapering down to desk with audio recorders post 1990's.

    This analysis runs outside the scope of this student's thread. Concur with several mentors this student could benefit from attending discussions and study groups at school; but are they able to?
  17. Dec 8, 2018 at 7:37 AM #16
    This gives me hope. :)
    It was a real tough situation for me because I'm not get used to get this grade in Maths. Yes,i

    How did you manage to make such a good comeback in Calc 2 , seriously?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2018 at 12:07 PM
  18. Dec 8, 2018 at 8:02 AM #17


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    As mentioned above, grading scales are not standardized. I once got a 25 on a midterm and then found out that I was one of only 4 non-zero scores in the class of about 20. The result was an A.
  19. Dec 8, 2018 at 9:20 AM #18
    Hard to say, because what a B translates to in terms of actual knowledge depends so strongly on the teacher. A B from a teacher with very high standards of academic rigor can be a meaningful accomplishment and represent good preparation for downstream math and physics courses. A B from a teacher with poor standards of academic rigor can mean you are not really ready. I barely got an A in my Calculus 1 course and I could have easily gotten a B without really having learned any less. But I ended up graduating with honors and being admitted to MITs PhD program.

    I'd recommend seeking some kind of assessment of your Calculus knowledge independent of your grade and your feelings. Here's one that is free and online. There are others:

  20. Dec 8, 2018 at 10:55 AM #19


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    In Canada (at least in the province of Ontario at any rate), the grading system typically follows according to the following percentages:

    A: any grade between 80-100%
    B: any grade between 70-79%
    C: any grade between 60-69%
    D: any grade between 50-59%
    E: any grade between 40-49%
    F: any grade <40%

    I know that different countries follow different conventions. It's worth pointing out that the OP is from Thailand, so it appears that in that country, the grading system seems to resemble that of Canada.
  21. Dec 8, 2018 at 11:54 AM #20


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    You asked that of mcabbage but I did this through intense review of Calc 1 on my own before re-enrolling in Calc 2.
    First grade in Calc 1 was B but some things I did not really learn.
    First grade in Calc 2 was POOR so I dropped the course.
    Review of Calc 1 on my own helped me understand some things better.
    Second grade in Calc 2 was B - this time through, I learned and performed much better.

    Understand, grade of any kind one one course does not guarantee success in the succeeding or next course.
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