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Best way to learn precalculus

  1. Mar 11, 2014 #1
    Hi, I am looking to learn precalculus. I was wondering what Physics forum thought was the best way to do this. So how do you learn algebra, trig, up to calculus in a effective fashion? Do you recommend any specific resources or methods?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2014 #2


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    What post-secondary educational options are available to you where you live? Are you currently working? What are your plans after learning precalculus?
  4. Mar 11, 2014 #3
    Khan Academy is an option. I can't vouch for the quality, except someone I know who tutors stuff up to precalc has had some success with it. It helps that it's free.

  5. Mar 12, 2014 #4
    I personally mostly used a For Dummies book, with some Khan Academy and Educator videos mixed in. I think PF gives or gave a free year of Eductator access.
  6. Mar 12, 2014 #5
    I was taught calculus in school. but after a change in academic direction I had to go back to the beginning and re-teach myself.

    I used a mixture of resources such as Khan Academy, Paul's Online Math Notes, Calculus Made Easy (Martin Gardner, book), and Pure Mathematics 1 (bostock and chandler, book).

    Each of these resources start at different levels and assume different levels of comprehension. The books will give you a stronger foundation in my opinion, whilst the online resources start off simpler so may be an appropriate starting point.
  7. Mar 14, 2014 #6
    Dembadon, I am 20, not working! I have online options where I can get high school credits, also adult education which is schooling for adults and for math, English and science, which is for free locally. I can also attend college where I believe they do the same thing.

    I wish to do potentially computer science!

    Homeomorphic, I am working on Khan right now!

    Jozape, Thanks for the suggestion on the dummies book.

    BOAS, thanks for the suggestions, will look into them.

    Thanks for all the help guys!
  8. Mar 14, 2014 #7


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    Gotcha. Then, in my opinion, the best route would be taking advantage of the adult schooling options you mentioned. Meet with an academic adviser at one of the local schools, and they'll help you develop a plan. You'll probably be given a placement test that will determine your competency levels in the courses you need to take. Make sure the universities you'd like to eventually attend accept the credits from wherever you decide to go. There are often transfer agreement documents that outline which courses will count towards a 4-year degree at a local university. If you want to study computer science, you will need to transfer to a university that offers such a program. You might be able to learn a lot of the material on your own, but I find the college environment far more efficient for learning difficult things than doing it alone. <insert shameless plug for PF here>

    Try to set realistic, short-term goals; it'll keep you focused. And good luck!
  9. Mar 14, 2014 #8
    Dembadon, that was one of the best post I have seen in my entire life. You just made life make sense for me. I will try my best to carry out this set of actions you have listed. I can't thank you enough, I didn't know there were competency test or academic advisers, your thoughts on short term goals make so much sense! Pretty much resolved multiple issues and unknowns in one post. You also made college quite compelling.

    Seriously, thank you!!! I don't know how to thank you enough!
  10. Oct 11, 2014 #9
    If you want to learn stuff, then I would advise against Khan academy. Khan is not really that good. If I were you, I would use profrobbob on youtube, or if you have ItunesU Mike Rosenthal is good. Those will give you a better understanding than Khan.

    ItunesU is free in the standard itunes that you install on the computer.
    ItunesU needs to be downloaded from the app store in order to use it with an Ipad or something like that.
  11. Oct 11, 2014 #10


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    Think of Khan Academy as tutoring. Study from a good instructional text book, but for supplemental or additional help, Khan Academy is beneficial.
  12. Oct 11, 2014 #11
    Khan academy is just not that helpful. Maybe I just do not like the whole powerpoint video concept. I prefer to see an actual instructor. That is why I recommend Profrobbob, professorleonard57, and Mike Rosenthal. From them, I learned the most.
  13. Oct 11, 2014 #12
    Most of the point of Khan Academia is actually the exercises, not the videos. The tutor I mentioned actually didn't make any use of the videos what so ever.

    Some of his videos are good, some of them not so good, but in any case, that's not really the point of Khan Academy.
  14. Oct 11, 2014 #13
    I also tutor using Khan academy, making no use of the videos.
  15. Oct 11, 2014 #14


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    Sure; one of the problems with any recorded video tutorial presentation is that it is not interactive. An instructor in a real classroom (the kind you attend for real) is live, in the vicinity, and interactive. You should understand that Khan Academy uses Screendraw, and a screen-cast recording program; not powerpoint (unless he now includes some of them).
  16. Oct 12, 2014 #15
    Even though they use screen draw, it is essentially the same as someone recording a powerpoint using some input software to write, and throwing it up on youtube. That concept is the same. That is why I suggested the other channels. They have instructors that you can see(this is my point). Profrobbob's goes over some topic review, then he does examples. ProfessorLeonard57 is actually more of a classroom recording, but the videos are usually about 15 minutes a piece explaining a topic then doing some examples.
    To some seeing the instructor might be a mute point, but I noticed that most I have talked to in the tutor room do not really like Khan academy. When I show them the other channels, they seem to pay more attention, and get more from them.
    I usually ask them why they do not like Khan, and usually it is something along the lines of they just do not like the presentation. I do not deny that Khan might be useful to some, but I just never found it useful.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
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