bad semester and worse

Hello, I need some advice. Ive thought long and hard and i know that i want to go to medical school. I started a post-bac program last fall and did not do well in Calc (i have to retake it) or physics but did do ok in my physics lab. There were a bunch of personal things i went through but the bottom line is that my physics II class is extremely calc heavy and i have to withdraw from this term (spring 2014). I know that i need to do well once i start back in the summer or fall but i guess im just looking for some advice on what to do in the mean time and that it makes sense for me to be doing what im doing. I figured i couldnt risk getting another bad grade or withdrawing in the middle of the semester. So if anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice i would love whatever you have to offer.


It sounds like things are a mess right now. For the time being, I think you’re on the right track to jump off the sinking ship and reassess. Important points:

What I would suggest is that you focus on preparing in advance for next semester. Look, you already have notes. You already have syllabi. You already have textbooks. You have a lot of material that you can work through, and Fall 2014 isn’t going to start for another 6+ months. Even if you’re working a 40 hour week you have a ton of time to go through material. It may crimp your nights out for a while but you have the time to get through the material on your own.

Figure out what you were having trouble with in calculus. Was it a foundational issue (eg, you didn’t understand trig) or did you just get lost as things went on? Work on your fundamentals- trig, algebra- and see if lecture notes make more sense. Get a precalculus textbook and work through it.

You also need to work through physics some more. The things you learn in Physics I will be important in Physics II. If you just didn’t test well, that’s one thing. If you didn’t get Physics II, then you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to pass Physics II and you’re shooting yourself in the foot for the MCATs. Try picking up an MCAT review book and see how well you do in the basic Physics topics. Also, get a Physics II textbook that isn’t calculus-based and start reviewing. Understanding the underlying concepts doesn’t require calculus. If you’re having trouble with the calculus applications, then learning them first with straight algebra could be helpful in slowing things down.

Do you have to take calc-based physics? If you’re struggling with the calculus part, then could you take algebra-based physics instead? Just a thought, unless you need the calc-based physics for your major or course of study …

Probably depends on the program. In my first undergrad school physics for science majors was entirely calculus-based in the second semester. IIRC, this is mainly for electrical/magnetic fields. Algebra substitutes decently well for some applications (a force of 2N applied to a mass of 6kg for 3s) early in physics but you really need trig to properly describe EM fields.

Since its physics with calculus then you will have needed to go into it armed with a solid foundation in trigonometry. If you never took trig then consider doing it before attempting a calculus-based course again. It will help a lot.