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Thread: Exam stress

  1. #1

    Default Exam stress

    Well, its exam time. Hurray!

    I actually liked my exam periods quite a bit last year, but right now I'm completely petrified. I'm not used to the idea of failing classes (I've never failed a school/university class, and rarely has it been close), but for the first time I'm feeling like I'll probably fail one.

    The class is a Modern Physics class (so, part of it is Special Relativity, the other part of it is (old) Quantum Theory), which I took as an elective (I'm an idiot like that... ). Now, I got 55% on the special relativity midterm (which was just under the class average of 60%, so not too bad), but let's just say that the 25% (again a 50-60%-ish average and a "very wide distribution of grade" (I have a pretty nasty feeling that I'm the tip of the tail on that one...)) I got on the Quantum midterm, err, destroyed my confidence? Ya, that might be a good way to put it... Now, its not all lost (I did pretty good on the assignments and my prof is known for "bumping" students above failing grades), however that doesn't change the fact that I'm stressing out...

    I actually dreamed about it this morning, which isn't common (I rarely remember my dreams). In my dream, I was visiting my German family (who knew I was related to Germans?) who happened to all be big fans of early 20th century physics (some of them where literally cosplaying...). And while I try to study there, I realize I'm going to miss my exam because the trip to Montreal (ya, I know...) was overlapping with it, which caused a panic attack and a rather sudden awakening.
    Also, a two-headed cousin of mine was playing WoW (my dreams are totally not random...).

    If it was just the fact that I was stressed, I'd be o.k. with it, however its keeping me from being able to study effectively (because studying makes me even more stressful). I'm already terribly ineffective when I try to study, which means that the stress is compounding my problem. So I'm just wondering how people here cope with prepping for a stressful exam. That, and I'm a bit curious to see if I'm the only one that was ever that paranoid about an exam

  2. #2

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    I always hated exams. The stress of exams is what drove me to smoking (i dont reccommend this as a coping mechanism) which i only recently managed to quit.
    Im actually now considering going back to school for physics as i've always had a intrest in it

    If your anything like me you did better than you think. I always overreacted post-test and would convince myself that i did worse than i really did.

  3. #3

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    Don't worry, smoking is not something that I'll ever do, thanks to family history...

    As for over-reacting post-test, I usually get it within the ballpark (I actually have a tendency to count my expected grade before handing a test in, and its usually somewhat accurate). I haven't written the final yet (that's Friday), but the preparation has been terrible (I can't seem to concentrate on it). Anyway, I don't need the class for my degree, but I know that my self esteem will take a good beating if I fail that class (I've always been demanding towards myself when it comes to grades, I remember at the end of the second grade, my mom praising my good grades on my report card I responded that I didn't think I did well enough).
    If anything, I'm letting my grades have too much of an impact on my happiness right now, which in turn seems to be hindering my grades. The sad thing is I seem to care more about the grade bit that the happiness bit...

    By the way, if you have an interest in Physics I encourage you go for it. Its a fantastic subject, even tough it tends to be quite hard (a classmate of mine compares studying physics to being rapped by the girl of your dreams, and I have to admit its a pretty good analogy...). I only took one second year class/lab this year; nearly every lecture I learned something neat, and nearly every lab I did something that I'll be telling my kids about (just because I'm a showoff like that ^^, tough to be fair I did get to do some cool stuff). Not just that, but physics faculties tend to be quite small which makes for a very friendly and tight knit faculty.

  4. #4

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    Just remember if everyone does poorly on the test, it reflects badly on the professor. You want to fall favorably in the curve, if that's possible. Often, if you make contributions in the class and are personable to the prof., they'll pull your grade up. If you're in a large class, this doesn't work. I wish you the best.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    Just remember if everyone does poorly on the test, it reflects badly on the professor.
    while that is normally the case, that isn't always true. I was in a class just this semester where we had at least 4 people retaking it for a second time, and there was one or two in there taking it for a third time. This is the only professor that teaches this class, so there isn't much of a choice when it comes to it.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by moocow View Post
    while that is normally the case, that isn't always true. I was in a class just this semester where we had at least 4 people retaking it for a second time, and there was one or two in there taking it for a third time. This is the only professor that teaches this class, so there isn't much of a choice when it comes to it.
    Yes, and sometimes it isn't fair to the professor. I took a French course in college, and we all failed the final exam. But the truth was that we were all music majors and didn't care at all about French. There was nothing wrong with her as a teacher. It was us. She was pretty angry at us. The Dean made her give us all D s, which was barely passing.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    Just remember if everyone does poorly on the test, it reflects badly on the professor. You want to fall favorably in the curve, if that's possible. Often, if you make contributions in the class and are personable to the prof., they'll pull your grade up. If you're in a large class, this doesn't work. I wish you the best.
    My class is quite small (a dozen students), so the prof has been calling me (and everybody else) by my first name since day 1.
    After the first midterm she actually had to have a little talk with the class because everybody was panicking (the average was 60, and let's just say that nobody in the class was used to getting that kind of mark...), and she said that she was actually aiming for a hard test to give a chance to the more talented students to prove themselves. She doesn't scale, which actually works in my favor (I'm the only student in that class that isn't majoring in Physics, so there is no way I would be on the good side of the curve (they are some really, really talented people in that class)), but she still hasn't decided on the grading scheme (choosing a grading scheme after all the grades are in appears to be standard practice in the Physics department), so it might end up that something as low as 50% could be a B... And ya, she (along with quite a few Physics profs) is known for passing people even if they should have a failing grade, as long as they put in the effort, which I think (hope?) I've shown (been there every lecture, assignments never late...). That being said, I'm still mortified

    Still, I think getting this out of my chest has helped (I certainly slept better last night that the night before). I'll be sure to keep you updated on how it all goes tomorrow.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Near View Post
    My class is quite small (a dozen students), so the prof has been calling me (and everybody else) by my first name since day 1.
    After the first midterm she actually had to have a little talk with the class because everybody was panicking (the average was 60, and let's just say that nobody in the class was used to getting that kind of mark...), and she said that she was actually aiming for a hard test to give a chance to the more talented students to prove themselves. She doesn't scale, which actually works in my favor (I'm the only student in that class that isn't majoring in Physics, so there is no way I would be on the good side of the curve (they are some really, really talented people in that class)), but she still hasn't decided on the grading scheme (choosing a grading scheme after all the grades are in appears to be standard practice in the Physics department), so it might end up that something as low as 50% could be a B... And ya, she (along with quite a few Physics profs) is known for passing people even if they should have a failing grade, as long as they put in the effort, which I think (hope?) I've shown (been there every lecture, assignments never late...). That being said, I'm still mortified

    Still, I think getting this out of my chest has helped (I certainly slept better last night that the night before). I'll be sure to keep you updated on how it all goes tomorrow.
    I certainly understand what you're saying. When I first went through college, I had trouble my freshman year, and some in my sophomore. College is much more difficult than high school. My way of coping was to become extremely depressed and thus, unable to attend classes. That caused me to fail them. I had to re-take them. I went back to school 9 years ago and got A s in everything. To pass pre-calculus, I had to study 4 yours every night. I had an 89 average and she bumped me one point up to an A. But I know what you're saying. The second time through I was absolutely committed to getting all A s and at several points I was panicking about not making my goal. There is that whole thing about self respect, and I think that's what I hear you saying. All I can say is that I admire you for caring and having that sense of pride. I do wish you the best. At least treat yourself to something nice come winter break. You will have earned it!

  9. #9

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    Well, the deed has been done. Such a relief to be done ^^. Well, I'm not really done (I do have 3 exams left), but I'm done with the exam that was scaring me. I managed to put myself into a happy mental place before the exam started, and I think that helped me a lot (if there is one thing I learned this semester, its that panicking during a test is a recipe for disaster). I don't think I did terribly good, to be honest, but it was certainly not disastrous.

    Oh, and you know you have a nice prof when two hours into the exam she hands everybody a chocolate chip cookie

  10. #10

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    Gald it wasnt a disaster for you. Good luck on your remaining exams

    On a side note i recently picked up "Absolutely Small- How Quantum Theory Explains our World"
    pretty interesting stuff.

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