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Worried that I might fail Physics 1

  1. Nov 11, 2013 #1

    I am in such disbelief right now, so disappointed in myself. I've failed two of my physics midterms and we only have one midterm left before the final. I've studied for both and I thought I knew what I was doing, but apparently not. The class average for both tests have been a 75%, C+ according to the professor's grading scale. I've literally bombed the last two exams..

    The professor gives us a study guide before the test and provides the answers, but the study guides don't seem to help. I understand the concepts, but it's applying them that I seem to have trouble with. Plus, the professor isn't really that great and he goes kind of fast because about half of the students in there are engineering students who have taken the course before, but just need a review on it or something like that.

    Plus, the book we use isn't that great: Physics for Scientists & Engineers, Serway, 9th edition. The other thing I hate is that the professor makes the exams multiple choice and it makes me frustrated.

    I'm a physics major and it seems like this class is extremely difficult, especially for a physics 1 course that is calculus based. I really don't want to change my major because I love physics with a passion, but apparently I just can't do it. I still have an A- in the class because of the labs and group work and stuff; which I don't see how because the tests are a killer.

    I'm in Calculus right now and I'm doing just fine in that class, I currently have an A, but we've barely used calculus in my physics class. (Only a few times to derive equations and such but that's about it.)

    Sorry if my post is somewhat disorganized, but any advice would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2013 #2


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    So what exactly are you asking for here?

    Please note that if you can't apply you "understanding" to solve problems, you really haven't understood it beyond just a superficial level. Assuming that you have a good command of mathematics ( which apparently you do based on your calculus class) then you need to figure out why you can't do well in the exams.

  4. Nov 11, 2013 #3
    That's my problem. I can't figure out why.. I can do the math, but it may be the concepts or something. I plan on talking to my professor tomorrow because he wants people to talk to him about the test if we did poorly.
  5. Nov 11, 2013 #4
    If you still have an A- due to lab work and such, you're in a good place. How do you study for exams? Are you re-reading the book/lecture notes or are you solving problems?
  6. Nov 11, 2013 #5
    I'm doing both -- re-reading my lecture notes and solving problems.

    I know that if I still have an A- in the class that I'm in a good place, but it still upsets me that I did poorly on two exams.
  7. Nov 11, 2013 #6
    I would definitely talk to the professor then. Maybe you are missing some key concept.
  8. Jun 16, 2014 #7
    I just came across this post, man what a relief (sorry). I am in the same boat right now, taking physics I as a 4-week summer course, concurrently with calc 8-week. I failed my 2nd physics midterm, it feels awful, especially because calc is a piece of cake. I don't understand what's going wrong here. I would love to hear how it ended up for you, and any advice you would have given yourself halfway through your semester of physics I.
  9. Jun 17, 2014 #8
    Are you just looking at the problems or are you actually SOLVING them?

    What has worked for me in my physics classes is practicing the assigned problems until I can solve *ALL* of them without glancing at the solutions. This means grabbing the pen and paper and working through each problem over and over until you can do the problems in your sleep. If you can do that, then you certainly will not fail the test.

    Edit: Just realized the age of this post... But the advice still holds
  10. Jun 17, 2014 #9
    This approach is good but it may not work for everyone. I can solve a problem only once, and remember the solution for months or years. Repeating the same problems over and over might be a dangerous approach. Exam questions are always different (and harder) than homework/tutorial questions.

    I think it might be helpful to explore alternative resources and explanations to the covered material. Sometimes lecturers assume that the students already know things and therefore present (seemingly) poor explanations. Or sometimes the lecturer might just teach on a level that is too high for the class, without really realizing it.
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