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I really need help

  1. Mar 17, 2012 #1
    I really would like to become a physicist, but the problem is I am really horrible at math. My grades are great though I have A, A, A,A, B, D and that D is in math. It makes me frustrated it is the only thing that is wrong in my life(no joke I would be fifty percent happier). I ask myself everyday how I am expected to become a physicist if I can't do this. I study for my test, but I have awful results. What should I do? I try in this class but I barely pass and I want to get into a good school like MIT or Cal. tech.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2012 #2
    I do not want you to be pessimistic about it but it's the story about me being frustrated to be a singer but no matter i try, i really sound awful. Anyways, you can always hope and try as you can. =)
  4. Mar 17, 2012 #3


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    You are clearly not 'dim', as you other results indicate, in general. So there is nothing to worry about.
    With that Maths grade then you would struggle too much to cope with advanced Physics. BUT why are your Maths grades so low? Rather than just chucking in the towel, I would suggest that you could try an alternative approach. It can be easy, in School, to get on a slippery slope once you and your teachers have decided you can't do Maths. Consider some private Maths tuition with someone not associated with your regular School and who, perhaps, is a bit 'different'. This may get you kick started. Even a book might help. When students used to ask me what book to buy, for extra Physics information, I used to tell them to go to the shop (library) and browse. If the presentation of a particular book takes their fancy, then go for it. (The Maths /Physics/ whatever, is very unlikely to be actually Wrong in a textbook)

    If that fails you then go for something other than Physics. You could clearly make a success in another direction. There is absolutely no shame in that. I have many friends who are completely Durrr about Physics but who are clearly a lot more intelligent and able than I am.
    I could even suggest that, as your present maths is at a lowish level, then you may not even be appreciating exactly what this 'Physics business' is. You may not even be really sure of what it is that you feel you are in love with at the moment. There are plenty more fish in the sea.
  5. Mar 17, 2012 #4
    That is not very motivating at all... You're acting like it is a natural talent
  6. Mar 17, 2012 #5
    You might want to brush up on your algebra, trig, etc. Have you mastered these, or are you more the kind of person who 'sort of gets it' and is now doing the harder math? Often, when people fail at math it's because they've never really mastered these more basic subjects. If these subjects are hard, too, take a look at your mastery of the underlying subjects, and so on and so forth.
  7. Mar 17, 2012 #6


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    for many people math is a natural talent. They do math as easy as they speak their native language. For others like me its like looking at a page of Russian text!! and my eyes glaze over haha

    I was up against classmates like that at high schol so many years ago. It was very frustrating. I like sophiecentaur, would suggest getting extra private tuition. Some of us need it... I did. It did help ... a bit I just found math extremely difficult to get a handle on.
    Its a language and you need to treat it as such. There's an old saying....
    'Maths is the language of science' and when I went to univ. to do my BSc in geology I discovered that to be so true. You can describe a geological process to another scientist who isnt in that field just by describing the math.

    All I can suggest is study study study with the tuition :)

  8. Mar 17, 2012 #7

    jim hardy

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    I'm just an old engineer but i got A's in all my physics courses.

    I had to spend ALL my homework time on the math courses.

    The key to math is force yourself to be rigorously neat and orderly
    one step at a time, write in neat horizontal rows and keep columns aligned. That way you drop signs less often.

    And work LOTS of exercise problems.

    My trouble with calculus was not inability to grasp it instead dumb arithmetic mistakes arising out of sloppiness, coupled with low tolerance for frustration. My writing is small and scrawly and i used to cram things together. I was almost my own downfall. It takes patience to be neat.
    But i grew to really like calculus, and differential equations was a sheer delight. Our math textbooks were extraordinarily practical ones. Every other chapter was real world applications of the previous chapter's concepts.

    I found if i kept up with math, everything else i was able to do in class time even physics.
    Well, until we hit Vector calculus. That was beyond my ability and i just had to memorize rote procedures without understanding them. But i'd like to tackle it again now that i'm three times older and a little more patient..

    Probably engineering curriculum requires not quite so much math as physics. I probably would not have made it there.
    So if you do run against a brainpower limit, as I did, one can still be a useful contributor to society in one of the more practical sciences.

    But honestly i think once you conquer whatever is holding you back in math, and i suspect it's the same poor working habits i had, you will find your strength.
    Moral: You just gotta do it. And if i did it, anybody can.
  9. Mar 23, 2012 #8
    Ah, I geuss I see what you mean. At the time I just didn't want to hear someone say it is a talent and you might not be able to get better.
  10. Mar 23, 2012 #9
    I don't really want to anything else that is not in the science field and the majority of science NEEDS good math grades right? If I can't do anything else I kinda just want to give up and be a pot head.
  11. Mar 23, 2012 #10
    Ah thanks that is an inspiring post. I wish that I could get interested in algebra, by the way I am taking Pre-AP algebra, should I not worry as much?
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