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Should I consider re-taking E&M to get an A?

  1. Dec 4, 2014 #1
    Okay, so I'm a first-semester junior in college, and currently have a 4.0. I'll cut to the chase. I'm in E&M (which I love, I think it's fascinating), and last night I had a test that didn't go so well. It's not that I'm not capable, but for some reason a 4-hour test that begins at 8 PM just throws me for a loop.

    Anyway, I'm wondering what I should do. If I get a B, it will be JUST BARELY, which is frustrating. Right now, I'm sitting at 12-credit hour semesters, and I could still maintain this if I were to retake the class next fall for an A.

    I guess my question is whether or not it's worth it to do that. I'm mostly just worried about my chances of getting into graduate school. I have a few great letters, some national scholarships, and a few publications under my belt, I'd really hate the fact that I don't have a 4.0 to completely screw me over.

    Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't worry about it if it were some other class, but E&M is a solid core class.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2014 #2


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    Lots of people with 3.9 GPAs get into graduate school. Occassionally we'll even let in a 3.8, but don't spread that around. Word will get out and before you know it undergraduate students will be slacking off everywhere.

    More seriously though, I wouldn't worry about it too much until the course is over and you have a grade in hand. Remember if the whole class bombs it, the scores will likely be curved. If you end up with a B grade, that's probably not worth re-taking the course. Remember your entire transcripts will be sent to the schools that your'e applying to so they'll see both grades (and then calculate the GPA however they want). It will look a lot better to have moved on and done well in a more advanced course. I would only consider retaking a course if I really stuggled to comprehend the material and felt that a second time through would substantially improve that.
  4. Dec 4, 2014 #3


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    That would be a complete waste of time. Having great letters and research experience is much more important than having a 4.0. I got a few B/B+s in undergrad and I got into five top ten schools for condensed matter theory including Harvard and Stanford. What made me stand out was my first author publication in PRL (and another first author publication in the works) and outstanding letters.

    If you were to retake a course you got a B in it will probably make it look like you care about grades more than learning the material. It's okay to struggle sometimes and not get an A. You pull yourself up and do better the next time. If you don't learn to be resilient and handle failure you won't get very far in life. Learning about a subject doesn't just occur when you are in the class, it occurs later on when you make connections between the things you saw in the past and what you are currently studying. For example, I didn't really understand group theory or topology when I took them sophomore year but after seeing the material over an over in physics classes I feel like I have gained an intuition regarding these subjects.
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