I am dying in physics--help!

Hi folks,

I am a sinking ship in my physics class.

I am at a school where the class meets one week 4 hours, no office hours, no discussion section. I am not taking lab this semester but will take next semester.

I read the book, use coursesaver, wikipremed, freelance, etc. I have 6 supplemental texts…and yet I totally don’t get it.

I did try and organize a study group, but no real takers. I hired a tutor, but wasn’t convinced it made such a difference.

I am increasingly confused in the class. Despite my effort, I got a low C (unheard of for me) on my first exam, and at this point am worried about passing the final.

Part of my challenge is that I HATE this class and content with a passion. I don’t get it and just cannot wrap my head around it at all.

Other classes like Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are dreamy to me, and Biology is just fine too though not as much of a fave to me as the first mentioned. I’ve taken lots of A&P, pharmacology, etc, etc and that is all fine too. It’s not that I cannot do science…

What can I do? I’m committed to taking it, and not really hoping for an A at this point–but I need to grasp the material for the MCAT next year.

Eeks! Help!

Hmm. This bites. Unless you can’t for financial reasons, I would try hiring another tutor ASAP. Maybe a friend of a friend whom you’ve already met? It’s not that a tutor is magic, it’s that you sort of have no choice.

Also I would take a break of even a week from HW, et cetera. Right now you (seem like) you’re in the negative reinforcement loop. Been there many times.

Something that can work for me when I’m in this mode…so it may not be the biggest manifestation of lovingkindness, but anyway. Think of your classmates who are maybe not dumb, but distinctly average. And yet they are pulling Bs. This means that you have it somewhere in you to get the B…it’s not about raw intellectual capacity. If they can do it, then you can, too.

Also try laying out every problem in the exact same format. Even if it’s not working for you yet. Same paper (lined or unlined), same stilted writing out of every little thing. Diagram for every question, even the ones that you understand. Do you really need 2 arrows, one up for normal force and one down for weight, for one stinking box with nothing else in the problem? Sure you do. Way overcompensate with procedure.

Not sure it will help, but have you tried khanacademy. I think he is doing a great job at explaining the basics. Give it a shot.

What surprises me a bit is that you like Chemistry. And really, if you can solve Chem problems, you should be able to do the same with physics (perhaps this is why gen chem and phys are in the same MCAT section). They are in a way very much alike as far as math ability.

First I would adopt a more confident approach. A lot has to do with psychology. If you go in “hating physics” then it won’t help. If you go in “This is a challenge I will face and win” then you may be surprised how well you can end up doing.

Good luck.

I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles in physics I too am taking physics this semester and, like you it has been a challenge for me as well.

I totally agree with the above post in this section. Actually much of what was already said would have been my advice to you.

However, I do believe that this is a psychological issue. I say this because I’m in the same boat. I don’t think you have an issue with gathering the material and resources but (and this is just my opinion)

Why not take waling breaks in shorter periods of time. Example if the average student studies for about a hour and takes a 10 min break in between why don’t you study for about 40 mins and take a 20 walking break where you review the problems that you were having trouble with. Talk to yourself, psych yourself UP, tell yourself that this is not that hard and that you can do this.

Think about a strategy that has helped you answer questions in the past. Pictures, pulling out numerical information that you can use to plug into a specified formula, anything.

Hope some of this information helps in some way.

God Speed!

Hmm, well I think the first thing I’d do is adjust my attitude – if you say you hate the class and the material, you’ve already put your brain in an untenable position…I’m not talking some psychobabble mumbo-jumbo either…

We all have material we don’t like and it’s usually because we don’t see a real need for it in our daily lives or it’s usefulness to use immediately…I remember the rants I would hear about algebra from the old dogs who never had it in high school --“When am I going to the market and buy some X?”…they did poorly in the class also…

So, what to do?

  1. Consider if your hatred of the material/class isn’t really fear because you don’t understand it.

  2. Either way, you need to understand it so I would stop using so many alternate resources --tends to confuse you – and stick with the course text.

  3. Don’t take notes on everything, but pay attention to the prof and approach problems the way he does until you get the system down…and like I always tell my math students — show every step, no matter how mundane. Most people get killed in math type problems when they think,“Oh, 4-6x2 is -8” rather than “(4-6)x2” -> -2x2 -> -4…hope the math is right but you get the idea…

  4. step back and get a big picture view as they go through topics.

  5. Go to the prof, even if you already have, and tell them what’s going on…they can probably help you and get you back on track…

    mostly----change your attitude towards the material and see what happens…

Bail while you can!! Has the drop date passed yet? I ate it hard in calc the first time around, but I let my advisor talk me out of dropping with a W. I barely scraped by with a D, prior to which my GPA was a 3.9. Now I have to spend the next few semesters making it up, and I’m getting into the really hard stuff. I regret not backing out when I got the feeling like I might not make it.

Hi aledvina27,

I signed up for these boards just to answer your post. Similar situation as you – I cried the first time I got a C in premed, which was on my first Physics exam. The professor was awful, the textbook was of no use, and I was ready to explode.

Two things saved my butt (and my GPA): http://www.freelance-teacher.com/videos.htm and the book, Physics as a Second Language

The first link is for a Berkley professor who has video taped his tutoring sessions with students and posted the videos online – way better than Khan videos (IMHO). He also has videos on OChem and Chem. Hands down, this guys saved my grade in Physics (and my sanity).

The book Physics as a Second Language was my quick reference when I didn’t have time to watch a video. You can find it on Amazon. Also, there are Second Language books for OChem which are amazing. Those also saved my grades in OChem – highly recommend. Lastly, these were great for review during MCAT studies because they’re condensed.

So, speaking as a student who knows how you feel, keep your chin up and keep chugging away. Never, never, never give up and keep us posted on your progress

Best wishes!

P.S. Ratemyprofessor.com is a good tool for checking out teachers before you get into their class. Hopefully next semester you won’t run into the same problems

Holy cow!?

That dude is a Berkley professor? I never caught that, lol!!

Good advice SMGraff, I’ll be sure to take advantage of that Physics as a second language.


and welcome! Glad to have you on board! :slight_smile:

Hey all–thanks for the responses. Mostly, I’m trying to change my attitude and just do well enough in the class to move on! I’ve done well in the rest of my classes, and am doing my best here. I agree-Freelance teacher is really good, and Physics as a second language help a lot!