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Best self study Precalc text?

  1. Jun 27, 2011 #1
    Hi, I'll be beginning my high school sophomore year in August and will be taking Precalc in school, but, because I want to start studying physics seriously, I thought it would be a good idea to take initiative and get a solid foundation in the required math before classes start (an entire academic year for Precalculus is ridiculous, anyway). I already have a copy of Spivak's Calculus at hand, so I'm set after I find a good book for Precalc - can I get a few recommendations?

    A plus would be an algebra based Physics text so that I can get a taste of what I'll be learning after I am relatively confident with basic Calculus.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2011 #2


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    I don't think so at all. In fact, there is enough material in "Precalculus" that it could be a two-year course in high school -- college algebra, trigonometry, analytic geometry, basic matrix algebra, some discrete math, introduction to limits, etc.

    For some students, it would be better served if they took Precalculus as a two-year course, because they took it "too early" and they haven't reached that level of mathematical maturity yet. I've seen plenty of students who breezed through Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, only to struggle in Precalculus.

    As for texts, I like Larson. Note that he has several versions, each containing a subset of chapters. It looks like the most "complete" is "Precalculus with Limits, 2nd Edition." It's expensive, so you should buy it used, or buy the 1st edition. I also like Lial/Hornsby/Schneider. Their most "complete" version is "Precalculus." I would avoid Demana/Waits/Foley/Kennedy -- I'm forced to use it, and I think it has too much graphing and not enough math.
  4. Jun 27, 2011 #3
    In my AP Physics B class (algebra/trig based) we used giancoli 6th edition for the textbook, wasn't too bad and the problems were quite difficult, but the best part is most can be found online.
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