Abysmal Physics Exam/Excellent OChem exam

The first of my 2nd semester physics exams is out of the way and it was tough! I actually was more comfortable with 2nd semester material-at least the stuff on our first exam-then I was w/1st semester stuff. We started magnetism now, though and that is turning my head and my right hand around! At any rate, I’ve been doing well on quizzes and homework, but the exam was just quite difficult by comparison. So, my grade was unexceptional to say the least, but far above average. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that the class average was 25%?!? Now I don’t feel so bad.

On the flip side, I scored a 91 on the 1st exam in my 2nd semester Ochem class. WOOT! WOOT! I had one of the top grades. Average was 58%. That felt great to say the least! I still cannot believe that OChem has turned out to be one of my strongest subjects.

So, a little celebrating on the Ochem front, a little dismay on the physics front. However, for once I am NOT freaking out! I think if I continue my usual hard work I can pull off a decent grade in physics. I am working with a 4.0 science and math GPA right now and it’d be really nice to keep up that record as I apply to med school in June. Oh, and it’d be extra nice(an imperative actually) to do well on the upcoming MCAT.

My new mantra:

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Happy Thoughts.

Breathe. Prepare. Tackle this sh*t once and for all and put my best possible foot forward!


Congrats on a great performance in Ochem…i remember “those days” and my hats off for performing so well. What stuck out to me in your thread and drove me to post is that you said “happy thoughts…happy thoughts”. I am now 3/4 of the way through my first year of med school and I can not tell you how important it will be to keep that montra. You will have an exam that you don’t do as well as you hoped on in med school and bumming around about it will only soak up valuable study time and positive energy. You must turn every “opportunity” for improvement into just that…improvement. I have learned through the last 8 months that med school is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times when you don’t perform as well, when the hint of burn out drives you to run away from your studies, but then there will be that montra…happy thoughts. Learn from your physics experience, and let it drive you to succeed beyond expectations on your next exam. Best of Luck, Cheers.

Thank you for the reply and advice celticdoc2016! It is so nice to hear from one of us “on the other side”. Us premeds know how busy you OPM med students are and so we are ever grateful when you take time out of your day to come on over here and offer words of advice or just check in!

I used to let a less than stellar grade bug me endlessly. I would beat myself up for knowing the material, but bugging out on the exam or for second guessing myself and changing a right answer at the last minute, or for just not spending every waking minute preparing so I could “ace” an exam. Taking physics is not my favorite thing to do. I don’t hate it, but I can get a little bitter and resentful if I let myself think too hard about how much time I am spending on a long drawn out magnetism problem, and how much money I have spent (in tuition, extra learning materials) learning a subject I will not use to the extent to which I am being taught, but then I realize that is a waste of time. I let the thoughts in but I quickly let them out, too. I acknowledge my frustration and annoyance, but move on. It doesn’t matter anyway. Fact is, I have to do these things to get where I need and want to be. So, then I tell myself to shut up, learn it, and do well. Then, I can move on.

It does help that after this semsester and my April MCAT I will have a lot of things out of the way and so I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. That helps. Shadowing/Being mentored by a pediatric ENT has helped as well to remind me of why I am spending all this time and money slogging through physics. It’s temporary and I’m almost done with it.

What you say is so true; don’t let the thoughts invade and take up valuable time and positive energy. Thank you for reminding me of that! Last summer, in physics 1 I was burning out. It was a tough class run by the dept. chair who is a notoriously difficult and demanding professor. Add in that it was in summer, so in an accelerated format, and that I was taking the lab at the same time which in and of itself was not hard but time consuming and frankly a bit of a joke(time waster!) and I was frustrated a lot. The daily quizzes, 12 page super in depth homework assignments due weekly had me almost a little crazy. We had 3 exams and the second one I did horribly on. It was hard to deal with it. I think it was the first class I took where it was common that most of the class, even the good students, did not get a “regular” A on anything. I was just not used to that. I did get an A in the class but it was thanks to the curve for sure. But, I did work my tail off, too! I feel as if I have to “master” the material to prove I am good, but there was no mastering this class, at least not for me, and it was a real lesson in the definition of success and how it is different for everyone and that it’s okay for me to change my definition of success to better fit a situation. I always work hard and do my best and my goal is never to just pass or to get a 70 and hope everyone else does badly so my grade gets bumped up. I still study like I want to master whatever it is I am studying, but I give myself room to be human now, too. I also remind myself, when it comes to physics, that I am not trying to be a physicist. It’s okay that it isn’t my best subject. I will still try hard and study more for this class than others, but I am also trying to remain positive, not let slip ups here and there ruin me or stymie me. This will pass. My past successes despite some failures along the way are proof, too. I know that I have been down this road and gotten through it so why should now be any different?

Well, now that my therapy session is in for the day…

Another thank you, celticdoc2016 for popping in and reminding me of what I need to do and think to succeed! I wish you much success in medical school and look forward to hearing from you again!


I have a special distaste for Physics. I had many of the same feelings as you during my post bacc with Physics and found myself working harder at it than everything else. What seemed to really help me is that I started tutoring my lab partner. Although I was far from great at Physics, I was performing better than he and he asked for my help. This forced me to really understand concepts before our sessions and teaching it to him reinforced my learning and understanding. We worked together through both physics 1 and physics 2 and both squeaked out with A’s. One of my LOR’s even came from my Physics professor. If i could turn back the clock, the only thing I would have done differently is that I found out the hard way that the Physics on the MCAT was different than the Physics in my pb. The science didn’t change, but the approach was dramatically different. My university is a heavy engineering and Astronomy school so the Physics was heavy on the math, lighter on the concepts. MCAT is light on the Math( no calculators, basic equations need to be memorized only) and heavy on concept. If I could have done it differently I would have used an MCAT q-bank and review book during my class to drive home concepts and practice, MCAT type questions. Food for thought. Best of Luck, Cheers.

PS, Physics comes back in med school(mostly in concept some basic math) during CV, Respiratory and Renal. So studying hard for it now is not for naught.

Thanks again celticdoc. I have had some crazy physics problems that are just super math heavy with manipulating equations endlessly, etc. It seems sometimes that is all there is to physics and in a way it essentially is. Using math to explain relationships. How one thing equals another and equals another, etc. etc and then put it all together. I had this super in depth magnetism problem the other day that must have took me nearly an hour to get through. It was tough. I am not so much bothered by manipulating variables and formulas. But, it is busy work and while I realize why we have to do this for this class, it still feels like a waste of my time and resources. By the time I am done with some of these problems, I feel like the only thing I’ve done is exercised my algebraic skills. I like algebra, so no huge deal (except for the time thing), but I want to know more conceptual stuff as I feel it will help me more with the MCAT (you seem to agree) and will contribute to a better understanding of biological processes that will be important later on.

I by no means think I will avoid physics forever after this nor do I think it is somehow not applicable (physics is everything afterall), but yeah, pumping my algebra muscles at this point in the game just feels like ridiculous busy work! However, I do it because I know this is how to play the game. My prof is great this semester, however, so it helps me “enjoy” it more, but I would rather spend more time on the concepts than the formula manipulation. My Kaplan prep is a bit more helpful with that because they have more of the questions that force me to think about how A relates to B w/o having to do a twenty minute algebra exercise. I really wish that the undergrad physics requirements were closer to what the nursing and PA’s and some PT students take in that is biological physics. Blood pressure, breathing, varicose veins, membrane potential, defibrillators, etc. In depth magnetism problems seem unnecessary for someone on the med school path. Projectile motion and incline planes are fine to a point, but after awhile, my gosh my eyes are heavily rolling and I just want something relatable biologically! The prereqs need to be honed, but it won’t happen anytime soon. It’s a weed out course to test your mettle, but in the end, it really should be made more relevant for premeds (it can still be rigorous) so that it doesn’t seem like just another class that I will pay for and spend loads of time on only to forget most of it and/or use only a very small percentage of the content taught in my future studies/career and that which will be really important in future studies/career will probably be taught again at that time anyway! It’s a frustrating system, but I play the game. I just like to complain about every now and again!