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Over my head?

  1. Oct 18, 2005 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I need some advice on what to do about my AP Physics course. Last year when I was taking my CP Physics course as a junior in high school I got sick (am still battling now) and I self taught 2/3 of the material because I wasn't able to attend school regularly until the last quarter. I had a C average for three quarters. When I received a B in the class for my grade 4th quarter and my physics teacher let me into AP Physics. I was wicked excited and was happy that I qualifid for the class. :biggrin: I thought I might be able to handle it.

    Now I'm not so sure because I failed my test on the first 5 chapters and I'm having a huge difficulty understanding the book about center of mass, gravity, and the equation for perfectly elastic collisions and the teacher isn't teaching any of the new stuff that is in the book. The more problems I try to work through the more confused I get. :uhh: Now I'm left feeling very stupid and horribly inept even though I'm putting in a massive effort to do well. The only thing people looking at it from the outside are going to see is that I can't do it and they won't see the effort I put in to get here. I spoke to my teacher and he told me AP Physics is the right place for me and he believes I have an ability to do this. I can't keep failing though and when I meet with him for extra help he just makes me go through more problems even though I don't get it.

    :frown: I'm ready to scream and rip my hair out because I can't think of anything else to do. I admit I have some serious holes in my background because of the self teaching, but which is worse getting a C- in the class for the year or dropping it and strengthening my base by repeating CP Physics? I understand the material we covered 4th quarter and I had confidence in my abilities then and I really flourished, but now I've been knocked on my butt (which I expected but hard enough to break my back :bugeye: ). I really need some advice and my guidance counselor is still siting there telling me "Do what you want" and scratching her head. :grumpy: Can anyone help by offering some guidance? What do I do?:frown:

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2005 #2
    If you really want to stay at the AP level, you need to do something about how you are learning the material. Perhaps you could buy a supplemental book if you can't learn well solely on your text book. Or, perhaps you do want to go back to your previous physics class and grasp a solid background for AP the next year.

    I can't really say which is worse, getting a C- in the class or repeating CP Physics; that depends on your preference ultimately. I can say that if you think you can get an A in AP after repeating CP Physics, it would do you better in the long run. But that's definitely not necessary. You have the option of meeting with your teacher even more, studying extra well, and proceeding with the "holes" of your knowledge of physics for the remainder of the year and hope you pull out an A.

    I can say though, if you want to major in physics or plan on taking the AP test, most universities will only give you college credit if you get a score of 4 or 5. Not to mention, you want a solid background in physics for college, if that's what you plan on doing.

    Let me know what you think. :)
  4. Oct 18, 2005 #3
    You need to get more instruction from your teacher. Ask your teacher to work through some sample problems for you so that you can see how they are done, and you should be able to pick it up from his or her examples. If you're being stumped at particular points, ask for help there, etc. Work through those extra problems with your teacher right there to help you when you stumble.
  5. Oct 18, 2005 #4
    That's what worries me. He's been unwilling to really help out with the problems. He's gone through a few with me at each session but then when I ask questions about other problems, he just tells me to go back and rework the problems even though I don't understand it.

    ZC, your thought process is very similar to mine. :smile:I don't know if I can function less sleep than I already am attempting to put in extra study time. I've alread dropped my class schedule from 7 classes (the max) to 6 classes and roughly averaging 4-4 1/2 hours of sleep? I would like to major in electrical engineering. My plan was if I wasn't happy with my AP grade I wasn't going to take the AP test and I"m going to take a physics course at the local tech school before I start the fall semester. :bugeye: What would you do?

  6. Oct 18, 2005 #5
    Almost forgot: ZC what would you recommend as a companion book for the physics? The one I have isn't cutting it. I've tried finding a tutor...no luck with that yet though. :frown:

  7. Oct 19, 2005 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Which book are you using? That would at least tell people what not to recommend to you.
  8. Oct 19, 2005 #7
    Ah...now that would be helpful now wouldn't it :biggrin:. Right now I am using the Physics Principles with Applications Fifth Revised Edition By Douglas C. Giancoli. I think published in 2002. Does that help at all? I hope so. Thanks everyone. :smile:

  9. Oct 23, 2005 #8


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Gold Member

    My advice on this would depend on what you plan to do with your future. Do you intend to continue taking physics in college? If so, it would probably be better to retake the CP level class and plug up those holes in your understanding. Most university applications have a place to explain any adverse events that may have affected your grades in high school, so you'll have an opportunity to tell them about your illness and that even though you passed the class, you thought it was better to retake it because you missed some fundamental concepts during your illness that you felt you needed to continue succeeding. If you only get a C in your AP physics class, you're not going to have enough knowledge of the subject to do well on the AP exam to qualify for college credit anyway, so you'll have to retake it again in college if you pursue physics, so it seems it would be better to master the basics and learn the more advanced material in college than to press ahead and compromise your GPA and your understanding of the subject.

    If your future plans don't involve physics, then it probably won't make much difference, as long as you can pass the class. If you were ill and need to spend more time studying to catch up, if you don't need the credits to graduate, you might consider just dropping the class in exchange for study hall so you can spend the time studying for the other classes you need to catch up on.
  10. Oct 23, 2005 #9
    I agree with Moonbear. You should "plug those holes" as she said so that you can have a solid background and can do well with any advanced physics classes you may take in college. She's very right about the AP exam; if you don't do well with it you won't get the credit and will have to retake the course in college.
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