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I'm trembling under pressure

  1. Nov 9, 2015 #1
    I'm a physics honors student at a pretty good university and this semester I haven't done well on my midterms. Its not that I have failed any, but I'm sitting at average marks for all of my exams except for one where I'm one standard deviation lower. I really want to get above a 3.0/4.0 this semester and I know I can but the pressure of this gpa cutoff is hitting me hard. I try to exercise to de-stress. I don't have much of social life because most of my free time I'm working. I can't talk to my friends about this pressure because they can't relate to it. I'm just stressing more and more. Any suggestion on how to be more confident and kick this pressure off would be appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2015 #2


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    Hey db30,

    When you say you're sitting at average marks, are these in reference to the class mean or to some raw percentage? How are your peers doing in class? Are they as stressed as you are?

    Further, what's the root cause of the stress, if you get below a 3.0 will you get kicked out of the honors program? Are you worried about graduate acceptance?

    Finally, have you identified the reason for your low marks? Do you need to do more problem sets, not make silly calculation errors, etc?
  4. Nov 9, 2015 #3


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    Most universities provide counseling, training and courses for their students to deal with this kind of stress while studying as well as during test taking. Maybe you could consider looking into that, provided you cannot find a rational explanation for your stress in e.g. counterproductive studying habits, not resting enough, etc?

    À propos, I personally hate this obsession with the GPA. Please understand I'm not at all blaming you for this, it's more that I blame a certain pervasive culture that puts averages above the joy and satisfaction of intellectual development, although I'm very well aware that there exists a relationship between such development and the student's grades.
  5. Nov 9, 2015 #4
    My marks are on par with class average. Most of the people in my class are not in honors program, so they need a 2.3/4.0 to stay in their program.

    The root cause of stress is getting kicked out of the honors program. Yes, the reason for low marks were some silly mistakes and I'm improving myself on that aspect. Its just I don't wanna be out of honors as some graduate school consider it better than a general Bsc degree.
  6. Nov 9, 2015 #5
    I completely agree with you. Grades do not completely reflect the intellectual capability of an individual but they still give an indication of work ethic, etc. I'm not obessed with gpa but I don't wanna get outta my program. That's the only reason for stress.
  7. Nov 9, 2015 #6


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    The best way to alleviate the stress then, in my opinion, is to study to the level you feel confident that you've done all that you could do to prepare for the exams. Work as many problems as possible, give it a few days and then revisits those same problems and ensure that you can solve them without looking up anything. Work out your solutions algebraically without any numbers to the end, then put in the numbers and do the calculations by hand- ensuring you don't make any more silly mistakes.

    If you do this, then you should rationalize the worrying about losing your spot in the honors program by thinking to yourself "I've done everything I could do to prepare, and the outcome is irrelevant at this point." because it truly is. You've done everything you could do, if you still lose your spot, then maybe you just weren't ready for the honors program. That won't end you chances at graduate school.

    The stress that you feel now will only cause a downward spiral and then a self feeding loopback as your marks continue to slide. Try the above, and rationalize the stress as unproductive.
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