Had a test in mathematical physics today and didn't manage to finish it in time.
The idea was pretty basic (Gram Schmidt orthonormalization), and as soon as I had seen the problem, I knew how to solve it. Alas, I made a few calculation mistakes (addition and multiplication) during the process, and after locating the mistakes and correcting them, I was left with insufficient time to finish.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time this kind of problem occurred to me. It seems to me that I have had this basic calculation problem since ever. Sometimes the trouble starts even before the calculation: while rewriting the problem to the piece of paper I calculate on, I make a mistake (e. g. instead of "solve 3x+5=2" I write "solve 3x-5=2"). Today I paid special attention attempting to prevent this, but I actually made that mistake! I did copy the values of a certain matrix correctly to my paper, but whilst using the matrix, I somehow "lost" the coefficient that was supposed to go along with it. Halfway during the process, I realized it and corrected it. Later, during work, I made several basic addition and multiplication mistakes.
So, all in all, I didn't make it.
I am tempted to say that we were given insufficient time, but there were students that were able to do it correctly in time. Therefore, I have a problem. I am aware of it, and I try to prevent these mistakes from happening every time, but too often I don't succeed. I would like to hear advice from fellow members of the community.1) What to do to get rid of this problem permanently?
As a consequence of this failure, my self-esteem went kinda down. I mean, last year I was among the best students (avg grade 10.00 out of 10.00), this year it also seems that I have sufficient mental capabilities to grasp the concepts
, but I keep making these stupid basic mistakes over and over. Will I ever be able to overcome this shit? What if I won't? What if I miss an opportunity somewhere someday because of a problem of this kind (e. g. some kind of application test)? ... Will I be a good [theoretical] physicist someday?2) What to do to keep my self-esteem stable while I don't solve my problem?
Regarding 1), I figured that the cause of my problem might be lack of practice. Honestly, during a large part of my education, while doing problem solving at home, I made sure I know the concept and derivation of all formulae, but used wolframalpha.com or a calculator to execute calculation. So, I thought: "hmm, my skill of performing basic numerical calculations might increase if I did a simple problem on a daily basis, e. g. multiply two 4x4 matrices every morning". Does this make sense to you guys?
Regarding 2), this kind of failure doesn't make me feel this insecure every time it happens, but sometimes, such as today, it does. I tried to speak to myself rationally, explain to myself that I did know HOW to do it but failed to execute the calculation, and that that means nothing about my intelligence, that there is time to improve (how?), that this test may not affect my grade at all (I have another opportunity in a few months), etc... It didn't really help. I'm demotivated, I feel like a total noob, and I'm even thinking of not showing up on some other tests. I would really like to stop this stream of negative and counterproductive thoughts. It's stupid.
Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for sharing advice. I'm totally in need of consolation and even more in need of a way to solve this stupid problem. And yeah, a self-esteem boost might not be bad either