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Testing I think I just failed an exam

  1. Oct 30, 2012 #1
    I think I just failed an exam :(

    Ok so I am realistic about my life. I know I'm pretty much a failure.

    Anyway I had a lot of luck about 4 years ago and got into a great job as a data analyst. It suits me 100% at this stage as I get to do things which interest me, write code ect, basically I really like doing technical things (I should have been an electrician or some sort of technician but that is a different story). I recently cut one guys code down from TEN THOUSAND lines to about 20. And cut a 9 hour process down to about a minute and a half.

    So I'm incredibly happy, get paid to do something I enjoy - which is writing code. I wanted to further my education for some silly reason, so I've been studying mathematics and statistics and taking programming units (I've done 5 out of 8 units now though a university which has online study modes) as I figure it would be more related to my role and the programming skills will allow me to transition to a more programming orientated role without having to start a new career.

    I studied my *** off every day after work and I think I think I just failed the exam for my third mathematical statistics unit.

    Why ? A huge mental block and I just couldn't remember all of the topics on the exam. This frigging thing went on forever. Most of the stuff is trivial - I understand it all completely (more or less) but just can't remember it all !

    I'm not going to get a great mark or I may not even pass, but I feel like I have learned so much that it is all worth while.

    Has anyone else experienced failure on an exam before ?

    Is working full time a reasonable excuse I can make to myself for failing and I'll just have to study harder next time ?

    PS. I'm obviously not some genius mathematician like you lot ! I'm just doing out of interest and to complement my work experience (i'm taking programming units too) and to allow me to teach mathematics in high school as a sort of back up career.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2012 #2
    Re: I think I just failed an exam :(

    And this:

    does not compute. Obviously you have tremendous skill in coding if you can cut someone's code from ten thousand lines to about 20. It always takes time and practice to learn a new discipline (albeit this is not completely new for you), but hey, you already know all about debugging codes and rectifying errors. This is pretty much the same thing. Keep working hard and math will become easy. It's just practice more than innate talent. You already feel like you have learned a lot and that's great! Now just practice patiently!

    Good Luck :)

  4. Oct 30, 2012 #3
    Re: I think I just failed an exam :(

    I failed a Linear Algebra exam horribly once (12%), I managed to trooper through that course and get 60% on the second midterm and final and pass my course with a (51%). If that's any consolation as a turn around story, to inspire you. Hehe. :)
  5. Oct 30, 2012 #4
    Re: I think I just failed an exam :(

    I've never had what I'd call a catastrophic failure on a test that I studied hard for, but I know the feeling of understanding how to do a problem and then blanking on a test.

    It's happened to me quite a few times where I'll see a test problem, remember that I did a very similar problem while studying or on a homework, but not be able to remember exactly how. In hindsight, I realized that this actually hurt me because I ended up trying to recall that specific practice problem and struggling to picture exactly how the equations looked, etc. instead of just focusing on the actual test problem.

    This is especially detrimental on math tests, where two problems are seldom exactly alike. I think if you studied hard but still failed the test, you just need to revaluate how you study.

    For instance, it usually helps me to, in addition to doing practice problems, write down all the "hints" that should tip me off about what approach to take on a test problem, what formulas to use, etc. If you've done your homework and studied with practice problems, the thing that will really help you get better grades is simply being able to recognize what technique/formula to use. As soon as you see the problem, you want to be able to recognize what they're asking for, and how you could find it.

    I also totally agree with SolsticeFire; math just takes practice, and I'm sure you have the mental ability to succeed in it. If you're already studying every night, you don't need to study more, you just need to study better. Try doing the test material practice problems in a random order, and get to the point where you can recognize them immediately and almost do them qualitatively in your head, before you even plug in the numbers. Studying this way, and physically righting down the situations where I would use a given method, definitely helped me increase my mathematics studying efficiency, and test performance.

    I hope that helps, and best of luck. Don't be discouraged by one bad test, just correct your studying technique so you don't have the same problems next time.
  6. Oct 30, 2012 #5
    Re: I think I just failed an exam :(

    I went nagasaki on the third exam of my sophomore-level dynamics class. I walked in and knew none of the formulas and had no time to rederive them. Not only did I come out of the class with a B- (perhaps thanks to the fact that I got some of the highest grades in the class on the other two exams), but orbital mechanics is currently my best subject (which is a direct continuation of dynamics). Don't sweat a bad exam. It doesn't mean anything.

    Also, anyone who thinks they're a "failure" because of one bad exam needs to reexamine what they consider "failure".
  7. Oct 31, 2012 #6


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    Science Advisor

    Re: I think I just failed an exam :(

    Hey RufusDawes.

    I'd recommend a simple approach which is to just decide whether you want to move on or stick with it and then if you decide to stick with it, to use the experience and figure out how you can learn from what went wrong the first time.

    Talk to your lecturer and get their advice on what went wrong: ask them flat out if they think you can pass next time and under what circumstances (hopefully being a lecturer/whatever they should know this).
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