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Advice needed; choosing careers

  1. Mar 2, 2006 #1
    Hi, im a gr 11 student in Canada, and has been a long time "fan" of math, physics, and computers... im also taking AP calculus right now

    if you don't want to read all this please jump down and answer my questions if possible, thanks a lot!

    the problem is that i always understand everything AFTER the test. for example, in calculus we did limits, and as i did more and more, i realized there were just TOO many ways those questions could come up and just TOO many ways to really solve them, sometimes you dont know if you sub numbers, or do whatever. I get everything after the test because a test has a wide range of questions, and I probably dont get half of them because regular exercises I do might be not as higher level.

    I also looked at a calculus AP challenge exam, and I've concluded I dont know how to do a single one of them :D. I just think knowing your stuff and being able to solve higher order questions (twisting the question around) is simply something two different things

    I also need help choosing what to study based on the fact I can get into a good university. I live in canada and my primary targets right now are UBC, U of Toronto, and U of Waterloo; im interested in computer science, or computer engineering, but i really dont know. I honestly HATE hands on, i really like the idea of engineering but all that comes into my head is using screwdrivers and constructing things. please ignore my ignorance.

    I obtained a mark for 71 percent in Math 12, which is the one you need to graduate, and I didn't get ANYTHING until I did the provincial exams, now i totally understand everything, yet its a bit too late.

    and if you didn't bother reading all that, my main questions are:
    1) how do you totally understand something BEFORE its too late (eg after a test) and understand it so you can tackle higher order questions? because their just too hard

    2) what are some good canadian universities if i'm looking at math/physics/computers/engineering?

    3) if anyone here has taken Calculus AB before (high school or post secondary) , how do you even UNDERSTAND IT? everyday its like, limits, derivatives, I don't even know what the heck their for, and i know that in order to become proficient in math, it has to make sense (stare at a question and automatically know how to do it)
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2006 #2
    Do you meant that you don't know what real world applications these concepts are applied toward, or do you mean that you simply don't understand these mathematical ideas?
  4. Mar 3, 2006 #3
    As for studying, all I can say it start preparing well in advance of the actual test. Find practice exams and do the questions as if it were a test situation and maybe by the time you actually get to the test you will know the stuff.

    I go to the U of A and although I am not in a math/physics/engineering program it seems that from what I have seen/heard the programs for those disciplines are really good here.
  5. Mar 3, 2006 #4
    use a wide variety of books with proper questions.......get 1 book which is above u aswell..1 which u dont get all of the stuff learn from those aswell..talk to ur teacher about this aswell and ur class mates....have u talk to any1 about this?...discuss this for a long time with ur teacher,,,.show them wat u didnt get wat u got ,,y u didnt get that ,,,they shud be able to solve ur problem...
  6. Mar 3, 2006 #5
    Hello! I'm an AP Calculus BC student and I also tutor Calculus I,II, IB Calc, and AP Calc AB/BC. Many of my tutored students come to me and say the same thing: "I get everything...but that's after the test." I have a few suggestions.

    One: Go buy yourself a book "Schaum's Outline: Calculus" or "Barron's AP Calculus" (Especially this one, it has practice exams that are slightly more challenging than the AP Exam). DO the problems in the section that correspond to what you're doing in class.

    Two: Go see your teacher about tutoring. I'm not sure if you're school offers it, but many schools have a system so that the teacher offers after school tutoring (especially for AP classes).

    Three: Read the book. Review. Make sure you know what things mean. When someone says "derivative" you know what it means. Don't just know how to compute "y = x^2. The derivative is y' = 2x." Actually know what that means and how you can use that in various situations (such as y' = 2x, at point (0,0) is 0. y'' = 2. Thus, y has a minimum at this critical point of (0,0)). It is imperative that you remember everything previously studied.

    Four: Go do AP practice exams. Ask your teacher if s/he has any copies of an AP exam with solutions to do. Go to www.collegeboard.com, go to the AP Calculus AB/BC section of their site and do the AP Free Response problems. If you have trouble, ask someone here or ask a teacher or friend.

    Most kids in my class are doing AP Calculus BC. Most of them have extremely low grades of D's and the occasional C. They all wonder how I magically have a 100. I just read the book, do problems out of the Barron's and Schaum's outline and do all the AP practice problems I can find. (The reason for the low grades in my class is the fact that our teacher administers AP exams as quizzes and tests....so, a score of 70% is pretty good.) Study hard. Ask questions on here, I'm sure people would be more than willing to help.
  7. Mar 5, 2006 #6
    hello there... thanks for the reply, I happen to be using Barron's 8th edition book, it doesn't give much help on how to do this and that but has a lot of questions which get me thinking.

    theres always the calculus - type questions involved with material from previous years, such as ln, e^x, all the trig and identities, logs, etc. , so I find it hard to really link everything together.

    if any of you live in north america, have free time, has msn messenger, and knows calculus AB thoroughly, I'd really appreciate it if you added me :smile: :smile:
  8. Mar 5, 2006 #7
    You just have to get used to that stuff, so much in math builds on the things you have learned in previous classes, you'll most likely never stop using concepts of algebraic manipulation on the various elementary functions, but once you get used to it it's not so bad, and once you learn this stuff you can keep learning more which probably will build upon your previous knowledge...
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