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Worried physics student

  1. Apr 6, 2015 #1
    I am currently a physics undergrad and I thought I was good at physics. In highschool I was pretty proficient in physics and got good grades without studying. My first semester in college I got 2 C's (in calc and physics) but that was because I did not study a lot. This semester I thought I was doing better, my grades have improved (I studied) but I just got my physics midterm back and I am pretty sure I have a C in the class now. Do I just suck at physics and should I change my major or should I keep trying and not give up.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2015 #2
    That usually ends with high school. At least it did for me.

    I think a better question is, "Do I enjoy physics enough to put in the necessary amount of work to do as well as I would like to?"
  4. Apr 6, 2015 #3
    I thought I put in the necessary amount of work because I had a B in the class. Is it bad to get a tutor?
  5. Apr 6, 2015 #4
  6. Apr 6, 2015 #5
    This is 100% true. I am an undergrad too. You have to study hard. You have to read the textbooks do the homeworks, study, ask questions all that. If you like physics you've got to be studying intensely.

    Thats my point of view on your problem, hope it helps.
  7. Apr 6, 2015 #6
    I wouldn't give up if you really enjoy the subject. It takes some time but you will realize GPA is not that important. Everyone has had bad class or test.

    Stephen Smale earned Bs, Cs, and Fs in his math and science courses, but when he started to really try, he got As and earned awards such as the Fields Medal and the Wolf Prize.Lesson is don't give up and work harder then before. Hard work does pay off!
  8. Apr 7, 2015 #7
    I think the main question is: do you understand the material? What do you think? How do you assess that you know the material (other than the midterms)?

    Also, since you just started studying now, it's highly likely you study in the wrong way. So can you tell us in detail how you study? How many problems do you do? How many extra problems (next to homework) do you do? etc.
  9. Apr 7, 2015 #8
    I usually read the chapter, go over homework questions then do a couple practice problems
  10. Apr 7, 2015 #9


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    Your study habits are definitely suspect. That works for soft science, but not so much for hard course material.

    You should review the Summary first, work the practice problems AS they are presented when you start reading ie do the problems AS you read (and start your homework as you start the chapter). And if you need it, get a study guide or do extra problems beyond your assigned ones if you have time and don't shy away from easy practice problems that present new solution methods.
  11. Apr 7, 2015 #10
    That might work for some people, but usually not for most other people.

    1) How many times do you go over the chapter? Just once or twice when doing the homework/preparing for the test? You need to go over it more than once with increasing attention of details.
    2) Do you just read the chapter? Everybody is different of course, but I always had to do way more than reading the chapter. I usually wrote down the entire chapter (or the important parts of it) down three of four times.
    3) Do you spend time to ponder connections with the rest of the material? Do you make mindmaps? Do you make visualizations?
    4) A "couple" of practice problems doesn't sound like you do much. In fact, you need to do many practice problems, especially the difficult ones! Getting an extra book with difficult problems and doing them is a good idea.
    5) How many times do you revise the material?
    6) Do you make your own notes of the material? That is: the theory and the homework written in such a way so you can understand it optimally.
    7) Do you have a study group to discuss the material with others or to explain it to others? This is often the best way to learn!
  12. Apr 7, 2015 #11


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    Can you explain "mindmaps"? I have heard of them, seen them, but.... still do not undrstand them or know how to create them. Is not knowing how to make and use mindmaps a serious problem in making progress?
  13. Apr 7, 2015 #12
    Oh, it is absolutely not necessary. You can absolutely be very successful without them. But for some students (like me), it is a really neat tool to synthesize the courses better. Certainly if you have many concepts and theorems, then it is a really good tool to get order in them by making a mindmap. It has really worked well for me. I feel the method of mindmaps is a bit underappreciated, so I keep recommending it here. I understand very well that it might not at all help certain students, though.

    So the idea of a mindmap is to learn the material in a different, more visual way. It basically means to write down some key words and the specific interconnections. This interconnection can be a formal theorem that provides an interconnection, or it can be a concept leading to a subconcept or another concept. There aren't really any rules to it, you need to do what you find most comfortable.

    It's really more fun if you use different colors and if you make different pictures with each topic. The more visual and creative you can be, the better.
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