How to Get an "A" in Physics 121

#05: Take the Academic Calendar Seriously

So one of the things new students sometimes struggle with is the idea of keeping themselves organized. For Physics 121 there are some key things to keep in mind:
  • First, the course is fairly carefully paced and designed with the assumption that students will study and work and complete assignments at a relatively even and steady pace over the course of the semester. Plan accordingly. The course is simply not designed for the student who tries to cram it all at the end. You won't succeed that way. If procrastination is one of your personal demons, do whatever you can to help yourself compensate and overcome this.

  • There are elevent homeworks in the class, you get to throw out the lowest homework score out at the very end. But remember this is insurance against something unexpected that might come along that could disrupt your ability to complete the assignment. It's not a reason to simply skip a homework. The homeworks are designed to help you learn the materials, when you skip them for any reason this reduces your learning in the class.

  • Whatever else you do, take the labs seriously and be sure to show up on time prepared to complete each assigned lab. Because the labs are scored on a straight scale, late and missing work really lowers your lab grade fast. Conversely, students who take care and put in the time and effort on the labs are likely to be rewarded with lab scores that boost their overall grade. Many students get a boost from "B" to "A" because they have taken the time to do well in the labs.

  • Don't cram for exams. Sorry, cramming is a prescription for disaster. The exams we give in Physics 121 are not rote memorization and you can't expect just to see a simple problem that you can "plug and chug" on. The exams for Physics 121 are challenging, because we ask you to think. Doing "A"-level work on an exam requires that you master the materials. You cannot master the materials with one night or even one weekend of studying. You also cannot demonstrate mastery and deeper learning if you are sleep-deprived. Mark your calendars now and decide that whatever else you do you will arrive to each Physics 121 exam well-rested. Seriously, that in a single line is probably the best advice I can give any students.