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Math Help - Just got a horrible grade

  1. #1
    Senior Member Paze's Avatar
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    Just got a horrible grade

    I don't even know who to talk to, I'm suffocating. I study 10+ hours a day in my discrete maths degree and I absolutely ACED high-school (100% average on calculus for example). I breeze through most of the assignments but in the mid-term tests I'M HORRIBLE.

    I score lower or average in the tests which is a horrible 45%'ish. I can barely Fing breathe right now I am so furious. I'm the ONLY person along with maybe 1 other who can answer any question that the teacher asks (I even pause before doing so to let others have a chance to answer) and I participate in class like no other. I show up for every lecture and deliver every assignment.

    I just want to vent off and maybe hear from others, my eyes are wet and I'd be crying if my girlfriend wasn't in the same room, man. This is the biggest bummer of the year for me.
    Last edited by Paze; February 24th 2014 at 02:13 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    If you solve home assignments, then why did you not do well in the test? Was the test harder than the assignments or were you too anxious?
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  3. #3
    Site Admin mash's Avatar
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    When I went through my math courses, I studied and prepared to the point where I never had any surprises come exam time.

    From what I can gather, this has happened to you on more than one test? Are the tests that much different than the homework assignments?

    When you're taking the test, do you have the same confidence solving the problems as you do when you "breeze through most of the assignments"? Or are there surprise questions that you weren't expecting?
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Paze's Avatar
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    The tests are pretty much in sync with the home assignment, but I have a week to complete the home assignment but only an hour to complete the tests and no help. I can't memorize EVERYTHING but I EASILY understand every single thing in the syllabus. But I can't memorize every single thing come test time
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    You should collect as much information as you can about your learning process (which home assignment problems you have solved, how much time it took you, what part of the material you remembered and so on) and have a detailed talk with your instructor. Try to be as objective as possible, i.e., talk about facts. For example: "I did a 6 hour review before the test, but was able to memorize only half the formulas". Ask for his/her advice about your learning style and about the course in general. Usually professors genuinely like and want to help.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Paze's Avatar
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    Quote Originally Posted by emakarov View Post
    You should collect as much information as you can about your learning process (which home assignment problems you have solved, how much time it took you, what part of the material you remembered and so on) and have a detailed talk with your instructor. Try to be as objective as possible, i.e., talk about facts. For example: "I did a 6 hour review before the test, but was able to memorize only half the formulas". Ask for his/her advice about your learning style and about the course in general. Usually professors genuinely like and want to help.
    There is no such thing as a one-on-one with professors in my university. It's a private university but even so, the professors are always on the run and there's like 200 students in each course. They even answer emails with little or no interest in what you have to say, as they receive probably a dozen a day. I would love to solve this problem with my professors but it seems impossible.

    Maybe you guys could tell me some good study techniques for studying mathematics? Note-taking, is that a yes or no? I dislike taking notes as I'd rather participate in class, so I just snap a picture of the white-board with a camera to review if I need information from the class, but I'd reconsider that if there was a good reason to.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    Quote Originally Posted by Paze View Post
    The tests are pretty much in sync with the home assignment, but I have a week to complete the home assignment but only an hour to complete the tests and no help. I can't memorize EVERYTHING but I EASILY understand every single thing in the syllabus. But I can't memorize every single thing come test time
    This. Aside from definitions, math is not, I repeat, NOT memorization. It is a process, a language. So many students think they are comfortable with the material, only to realize that they can simply recognize the material, not apply it.

    Studying for math works fundamentally different than for almost any other subject. Just like preparing for a sport, you must practice, practice, practice, ABOVE AND BEYOND THE ASSIGNMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN IN CLASS. Those are considered to be a BARE MINIMUM for preparation.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Paze's Avatar
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    Quote Originally Posted by phys251 View Post
    This. Aside from definitions, math is not, I repeat, NOT memorization. It is a process, a language. So many students think they are comfortable with the material, only to realize that they can simply recognize the material, not apply it.

    Studying for math works fundamentally different than for almost any other subject. Just like preparing for a sport, you must practice, practice, practice, ABOVE AND BEYOND THE ASSIGNMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN IN CLASS. Those are considered to be a BARE MINIMUM for preparation.
    This is true and I agree. What I mean is I can't memorize every method (or learn every method) as I only have time to do one assignment per day. I can't practice more, I already devote the majority of my time studying. I did come into 2nd semester directly from high-school and I did take an extra course (game-theory). I ended up dropping game theory as my grades went from 100% to 40% in the course and it was soaking up a lot of my time. I'm hoping I can get some more time to practice in my other courses now.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    Something I have always found useful is this: when you think you understand something, try to explain it to someone else (a study group is really good for this sort of thing).

    Another thing you can do: time yourself when you do your homework. Pretend it's an actual test. Don't rush yourself, just keep track of how long the problems take you. Learn to distinguish between problems you can solve on sight, and problems that require "working out". Those problems identify the problem areas for you. Re-review any theorems that apply to those problems. Can you prove them yourself, or at least explain what they mean to someone?

    If your professor is generally unavailable, find out of there are TA's who can help you. Talk to your fellow class-mates, pool your resources. Consider using a tutor, perhaps an upper-classman. But try to make an effort to get through to your professor. Learn his/her office hours, approach him/her before or after class, write him/her an actual letter (like with a stamp and everything). Be persistent, this clearly matters to you.

    Taking notes can help, but use them to remind yourself of key points, don't spend so much time doing it you can't focus on what is being said. If a certain section of your text is referenced in your lecture, stick a bookmarker there for later fast reference.

    One last thing: the way you feel right now? Remember it. Use the pain to strengthen your resolve. Next time you square off against a test, be in the mind-set to kick its...well, you know.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Paze's Avatar
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    Re: Just got a horrible grade

    Thanks a lot guys. I'm gonna beat this thing and I'm gonna do really well on my finals!
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