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Studying Why do I keep failing this in particular? (Differential Equations)

  1. Jan 6, 2017 #1
    Hello everyone. I'm an undergrad physics major with one semester left and I'm having some trouble. I took off 3 years to work on my depression and came back last spring to finish my senior year. Now, before I left I was struggling in all my classes due to my depression, but one was worse: Differential Equations. I'm now on my 4th attempt on this course and it looks like I'm failing it again. I CAN'T fail again. Like if I do I will never be allowed to graduate. I've tried different study habits, professors, and this time it's even online through a different university. Now, you may say I'm just bad at it, and I know I'm not great, but I've done exceedingly well in classes that require its use like Quantum Mechanics (I got a B) and many others with A's or B's.

    I seem to really just struggle with the tests. I understand the processes but I always feel like the test stumps me every time. It's like they put the only questions I can't figure out on the tests.

    My question is, how can I pass this class? I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2017 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    Can you detect any pattern to your errors. For example, can you categorize them?

    1. Mistakes involving the theory of differential equations per se
    e.g. Failure to recognize the general technique required to solve an equation - variables separable vs exact vs variation of parameters vs integrating factor
    e.g. Inability to translate a word problem to the appropriate differential equation

    2. Mistakes involving calculus
    e.g. inability to do some integrals, mistakes in differentiation

    3.Mistakes involving special functions
    e.g. errors in manipulations involve trig functions or ##Ln(..)## or ##Exp(..)##

    4.Mistakes in basic algebra

    A somewhat inane review of differential equations on DVD - that I sometimes play as background noise while I'm doing something else is: https://www.amazon.com/Standard-Dev...ords=Standard+deviants+differential+equations.

    You can probably find more serious videos on the web.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  4. Jan 7, 2017 #3
    Have you spoken to the professor about it? They want you to succeed. They might look at your answers to the tests and say "You missed parts A, D, E, and F here, that points to the fact that you might have problems with X!"
  5. Jan 7, 2017 #4


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    Education Advisor

    You say you've tried different study habits, but what habits specifically? Perhaps you could give us an outline of how you're studying right now and someone on here could offer some constructive suggestions on how to improve.

    The general advice is usually to work through as many practice problems as you can - not just those assigned as homework, but as many as possible. And do them with feedback - i.e. compare your answer with a correct solution after you've worked on it independently, identify any errors in logic and correct them. Ideally you do this until you get to the point where you recognize how to solve a given problem through sheer experience.
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