Perform so poorly on the exams

  • Thread starter rocketboy
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  • #1
Hey everyone,

I have a bit of a problem when it comes to exams. Over the past year the general trend has been that I do very well during the year, I know all the material really well, and generally have low 90's going into the exams for most subjects. However when it comes to the exam, for some reason I always do poorly, such as low 80's. I go into the exam feeling confident, and I even come out of the exam feeling confident. However when that report card comes I see that due to my unexpected performance on the exam my term mark has dropped a couple percent...and this isn't good.

My school isn't semestered, so I have all my courses all year around, and exams for each in december and june. So it is extremely important that I figure out why I perform so poorly on the exams when I do so well in the term. This is especially important since I'm going into my final year, and I'm in IB meaning I have IB exams in May, exams that will shape my university admissions.

Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.

Thanks so much,

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Gold Member
Well, I would say that if you feel confident it is probably because you understand the material, which is good. If you understand the material and don't do as well as you might hope on the exam it is probably because you have not had enough practice. This can cause you to spend too long on problems and make mistakes that you wouldn't make if you knew you were inclined to making them. I am not suggesting that you aren't studying enough, but just that you might want to work on practice examples. This is a mistake I often make: I study the material till I understand it and believe that I could solve the problems, but don't actually do complete problems because they are redundant and boring. So that would be my suggestion, do practice problems even if they are boring if you want to do really well on the test. Unless you feel your problem is something else, I'm just guessing.
  • #3
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
I'll second LE's advice and add that you may not be paying sufficient attention to detail.
  • #4
Gold Member
It's pretty well documented around here that I have essentially no formal education, so I don't know for sure if this is applicable here. I have to equate it with my pool playing. The main reason that I never play warm-up games is that if I do well in them I might go into the real game over-confident and screw it up by not paying enough attention. If I do poorly, then it can sap confidence and make me second-guess myself on every shot, which also tends to result in misses. The rule in pool is, 'if you're not sure, take your ducks'. Same for an exam, I would think. If a question gives you any problem, skip it for the time being. Answer the ones that are guaranteed to be correct, then go back and start picking at the tough ones.
  • #5
I find that exams are away of proving that you know the material, not necessary whether your a good physicist. Like learning to drive, you learn to past your driving test and its only after the test that you learn to drive. In other words like LE says, you need to gain experience in the type of problems. Are there past papers that you can get hold of and look at previous examples? There should be loads on the t'internet so I would suggest look at these past questions and take notes on what the model answers of looking for, this way you can see what the examiner in after in the questions. For example in most exams you will get a question worth say 8 marks. The 8 marks will be awarded if you met all the criteria. Make sure you have included your working out, your method, fundermental laws used such as F=ma etc. and make damn sure you clearly show the units or dimension of the answer.

Hope this is good advice

  • #6
Thaks everyone, that's all good advice. Its funny detail is mentioned because my teachers mentioned that on my report card. I think the point about practice and doing all the problems not just understanding the concepts is helpful too. However, during the term I do well on the tests, such as a physics or math test, I'll usually get 90's. And this is the application of what we have learned. Then the exam comes, and its basically like all the tests put into one, and I can never do as well as I do on the tests.

Could it be that I am not reviewing enough, and thus the stuff from October I do badly on in June because although I did well in October, it's been forgotten even though I think I know it? What are your suggestions for this?

Thanks so much everyone,
  • #7
Remember quality is more important than quantity. I made a mistake there and so I learned the hard way.

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