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Testing So I flunked two exams in modern physics

  1. Oct 26, 2007 #1
    Well Actually I only flunked one of my two midterms but I know I flunked my second midterm because I did not finish on time. I'm very disheartening that I failed my two midterms because I know how to calculate the solar costant when blackbody radiation is involved and I know how to find the wavelength of a hydrogen atom when only given its initial state and ground state, Or rI know when to apply the normalization wave function when calculating the probably of what position a electron may be.

    most of the material that would be covered on the test at least 3-5 hours a night. I don't want to dropped physics because I loved the subject so much and really cannot about having any other major. Its not just my physics exams I failed, the highhest grade I've gotten on a midterm this semester has been an 83 and that grade was curved. I spent like all night in the libraries studying for these classes and I get soo frustrated that I want to kick some random stranger's butt when I do poorly on an exam. I have no trouble understanding the material(with the exception of abstract algebra, where I walk into professors office everyday to get help with my homework). IF it were not for these exams and finishing the exam on time, I probably would perform decent on the course. I talk to my physics advisor and he says I think I have a learning disability. I really don't know what to think. I'm just caring less and less about getting a good grade on the exam because everytime I study twice as much for an exam when I fail the first exam , my midterm grade for the second exam is even lower than the midterm exam for the first.

    I talked to some friends , and they think I may have asperger syndrome, because I display soo many of the symptoms for asperger syndrome. I'm going to have a psychologist evaluate me for asperger syndrome.

    While I'm being evaluate , is there any advice people would like to share to help me get through my trials and tribulations or share some similar experiences it will ease my pain and eliminate some of my frustrations.. I cannot change majors is not an option because physics is my passion and can imagine majoring in any other subject.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2007 #2
    All I can say is that I failed (or at least, got below average) on plenty of my physics tests and I still haven't failed a class. I took a Quantum Mechanics and E&M mid term this week. For both of these classes I've been told that the class average tends to be around 30%, so even though I did worse than I would have hoped*, I'm not depressed yet.

    *I knew exactly what to do for both tests. On the QM test, the wording was odd, so I wasn't sure what he was asking for. I should have asked to clarify... my stupid mistake. For E&M, I ended up grinding through the integrals instead of using something like Gauss' law to simplify. Never got to the last question (out of 4). My stupid mistake.
  4. Oct 26, 2007 #3
    I hear you man. I had three midterms this week, two of which went fine. The third one was a disaster. It is spacecraft propulsion class, and I was pretty confident that there would be a Hohmann Transfer problem, a problem on calculating adiabatic flame temperature, and a problem on calculating the various properties of a DeLaval nozzle. There was no Hohmann transfer problem, there was an adiabatic flame temperature problem that seemed way too easy so I probably messed up, and a converging only nozzle problem. And I had 1 hour less to finish the exam then I had thought up until I was informed 30 minutes before the end.

    The point is, no matter how much you study you will never be fully prepared, and exams are always going to be more difficult than any homework assignment. The key is to assimilate the material as you learn it and make sure you understand what the overall picture is, and if you don't, seek help and ask questions immediately. Study everything, don't just study what you think will be on the exam, because a lot of the time professors want to make sure you can do more than plug and chug. Qualitative understanding is just as important as quantitative understanding. Even if you do end up bombing the exam, chances are so did many of your classmates. You won't fail the class, trust me. You pretty much have to not do anything to fail a class.

    An example, I took an intermediate mechanics course my sophomore year of college when I first became a physics major. I failed all three exams, but because I was doing well in the homework and contributing in the lectures, I got a B in the class.

    Just chill out and try to understand as much as you can. You don't have to be a 4.0 student to be a physics major.
  5. Oct 26, 2007 #4
    don't u have to have a 4.0 tobe accepted into grad school?
  6. Oct 26, 2007 #5
    I am no advisor, but I would have to say this is a horrible misunderstanding.

    If you need a 4.0 to get into grad school, many of us should consider becoming garbagemen.


    Edit: After some searching, it looks even Havard will let you into grad school with a 3.5 GPA. I wouldn't worry.

    Keep your head up and keep studying. Sometimes things don't come together until we least expect it...usually when we stop trying to force them to come together.

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2007
  7. Oct 26, 2007 #6
    aww thanks for sharing your experiences , I'm glad im not the only one who's has felt like a loser .
  8. Oct 26, 2007 #7
    My prof. laid it out for me as follows:

    GRE scores, Letters of Recommendation and GPA, other stuff.

    So if you get a 90% on your GRE's, you'll get accepted pretty much anywhere. If you get like a 40%, you'd need to pull some strings or be otherwise outstanding somehow.

    Right now I'm trying to get into said prof.'s project group. If he lets me do something and all goes well, I could have my name on a research paper he publishes. That would be a huge bonus.

    Of course, I'm not doing it with that in mind, since it's nowhere near guaranteed at this point, but I'm just saying there's more than one way to skin a cat. You could put it in a box and wait for the Schrodinger Fairy, for example.

    And don't worry about feeling bad. After a test, plenty of my classmates (including myself usually) feel bad. Physics is a hard major. That's why it's open (at least at my school) and people aren't trampling over each other to get in.
  9. Oct 27, 2007 #8
    "pretty much" is overstating it; it's still a crapshoot with the top schools.
  10. Oct 27, 2007 #9
    Can I just add an opinion here? I know we should all strive to do the best and learn from the best that we can, but getting accepted to the top 10 most prestigious schools maybe is not the most important thing that can happen to you. Maybe. Like I said it is just an opinion. Looking at many of the great scientists who had walked the path before you, you will see that not all of them went to a University that was considered prestigious at that time. It is not just the Professors who make a school great, it is the students too. The Polytechnic did not make Einstein the man or mind that he was.

  11. Oct 27, 2007 #10
    Not entirely, but I suspect it was influential. Likewise, the teachers he had and so forth. The eventual form relativity theory took even depended on what his friends knew. Yeah, he's Einstein, but even Einstein's acted upon by outside forces. :wink:
  12. Oct 27, 2007 #11
    I think my point is being missed here. The topic of this thread is that this person is stressing out over a couple of exams and that he may not get into the the perfect grad school.

    My point was that influence or not, great minds are independent of the schools that they attend.

    And yes. Science is a team sport. I know that.

  13. Oct 27, 2007 #12
    I would have to agree with casey on the importance in getting into a top 10 school. Often what is best is finding the right school that fits your individual needs. The ultimate goal is to learn a subject to the best you can. I read an article by Thomas Sowell (http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell102307.php3) about students striving to get into MIT, and the Ivy leageu schools even if it is not the best for fit for their needs. It is also important to consider how the rankings of school is done, and that is based on amount of rejected applicants.
  14. Oct 27, 2007 #13
    I don't care if I'm not accepted into a top ten college , I just want to be graduate school, preferably a graduate school that those research in general relativity or quantum computing
  15. Oct 28, 2007 #14
    I realize that, what I was just trying to emphasize is that you have to shop around. Don't always go for what seems like the obvious choices, do a little research into the programs offered on relativity and quantum computing. Besides doing bad on a couple of exams does not eliminate your graduate school options.
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