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Best Ways to Self Learn Math

  1. May 20, 2013 #1
    I am currently trying to self teach myself Algebra II and after I learn that I would like to move on to Trigonometry and so on. I was wondering what are the best methods to try to learn math by yourself. Is there any book or something on the internet to help me with this endeavor. Any answer will help. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2013 #2
  4. May 20, 2013 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Do the problems in the book. Look up alternative solutions online. Find related real world problems to solve to make the math more relevant.

    We would come up with some kind of new problem and then try to solve it with what we knew.
  5. May 21, 2013 #4
    Tyler, another good resource, especially at the math level you are at, are youtube instructional videos. There are literally thousands at the level of algebra and trig. Try starting by going to Khanacademy:

  6. May 21, 2013 #5
    I am doing the same, changing careers and self teaching myself basic math, physics, and chemistry. At first I bought some of the "For Idiots" books off amazon and they were actually pretty good. Khan Academy is excellent, I'm currently using that for Physics as well. I also do a variety of courses through coursera.org and there's plenty of other sites out there that offer material for self teaching and free online courses.

    Good luck :)
  7. May 21, 2013 #6


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    Well the first thing you'll need is a syllabus so you know what to learn. I see some http://www.cisce.org/icse_X.html [Broken] and http://www.cisce.org/isc_XII.html [Broken], but realize these are from India and a lot of what they list is taught in college in other countries, so ignore the year XII stuff, but most of year XI should be okay (if advanced).. Or find others if you like. Then you need to learn everything there is to know about each topic via those resources mentioned above or others. And finally, you need exams or tests to verify that you are learning. Hopefully when the time comes you can find some tests online, in whatever fragmentary form they may be.

    Best of luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. May 21, 2013 #7
    Is coursera.org a pay site? I can't figure out what they are doing or how it works there.
  9. May 21, 2013 #8
    No, it's totally free.
  10. May 21, 2013 #9
    I take courses on Coursera. It's VERY good.
  11. May 21, 2013 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    I think the Coursera business model is to offer courses as free (and non-credit) and to partner with universities where fees are paid to get actual credit for courses taken via Coursera. It also looks like they are exploring other ways as well.

    Wikipedia describes the business model in more detail:

  12. Oct 11, 2014 #11
    The best way is to get a textbook and go through the textbook chapter by chapter. If you are unsure of a topic, do not use Khan Academy. There are better sources than that garbage. Profrobbob, ProfessorLeonard57 on youtube, and FIU Mike Rosenthal on ItunesU will help you more than anything Khan academy churns out.
  13. Oct 12, 2014 #12


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    Khan Academy might not have been helpful for you, but you've no reason calling the site "garbage." KA is very helpful to many people, and you have no idea whether someone will/will not be able to benefit from it.
  14. Oct 12, 2014 #13
    I still think it is a garbage site. I think most people use it because that is the first thing that they have heard of when it comes to online education, or tutoring as you call it. They do not look for other videos, they just stick with Khan. I just don't think people should only be touting KA as the end all be all. That is certainly how it is portrayed.
  15. Oct 12, 2014 #14


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    When giving advice, it's best to remain objective and leave your personal feelings and/or anecdotes out of it. If KA doesn't meet your educational needs, that's fine, but you've yet to provide anything showing that KA is an ineffective learning tool.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  16. Oct 12, 2014 #15
    I did give advice to his studying. It is just interesting how everyone throws out khan academy all the time, when there are better sources out there.
  17. Oct 12, 2014 #16


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    There are other video tutorials, and some may be better and some may be about just as good. Khan Academy is mentioned often because it is well known and has been helpful - meaning that some/many students have found benefit from them.
  18. Oct 12, 2014 #17
    I can see your point, and I can see how some might find them helpful.
  19. Oct 13, 2014 #18
    Tyler, when I did high school math I learned a lot of stuff outside the curriculum by self studying. I used textbooks that other more experienced learner of mathematics (even mathematicians) recommended to others, and I worked them through page by page (mostly). If you want som good advice on what textbook you should get, there are (I think) a lot of threads to be find here on PF. For instance, you could have a look in the "should I become a mathematician?"-thread.
  20. Oct 13, 2014 #19
    What's so bad about it ?

    I am almost done with Differential Calculus and KA helped me a lot with Algebra II, Trig, Proba and stats and Precalculus. I learned so much more with KA compared to when I was in high school (I am currently relearning maths and physics because I plan to go back to school to study Physics next year).

    I think KA is a great thing as long as it is used with other resources like the book of Mary Boas.

    edit : Also, what is the best way to study physics and maths ? I have a year to learn the topics on KA and Boas' book. I don't know if I should study all the maths first then start with physics problems or if I should try to solve problems in Physics and learn the maths when I need them. (sorry if off topic)
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  21. Oct 13, 2014 #20
    I found this link quite helpful, you might want to have a look..https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...igh-school-pre-university-book-thread.307797/

    Am also a fan of AOPS books. A good approach would be to invest in appropriate textbook/s and supplement it with online learning...
    Some noteworthy options... MIT open courseware, Khan Academy, Patrick JMT, Proff Leonard57, Prof Robbob and Krista King ( Integral Calc ).

    This is a good website for understanding the intuition behind Math...http://betterexplained.com

    dumplump! If you cannot say anything good about others don't say anything bad either.. Keep your opinions to yourself. An average poster on physics forums is intelligent enough to differentiate between what is good and not so good.
  22. Oct 13, 2014 #21
    Some really great math texts that are cheap for algebra, trigonometry, and other low level maths are anything by Gelfand






    if you get through these you will be very ready to learn calculus, you should also read a light introductory to discrete mathematics too, like this one


    it will help you get attuned to basic logic and symbols
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  23. Oct 13, 2014 #22
    I can say what I feel like. Get over yourself.

    That being said, I agree with your list of options.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  24. Oct 13, 2014 #23
    To be quite honest, I learned the most about physics not from lectures but from talking with professors during their office hours. Find a professor, assuming you are at a college, and see if they would help you with some problems. Most professors are more than happy to help a student understand physics. Even if the student is not in their class, they will still help the student, usually.

    I don't like KA because I do not like the presentation, and I do not feel like I'm learning anything from the videos. That is why I offered other alternatives, and I do not recant my statement.

    For good physics lectures, there is one online(ITunesU) UCberkely
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/physics-8a-002-spring-2013/id596254231?mt=10 [Broken].
    He is a pretty good lecturer. The circular motion lecture I needed to review more than once to understand, but his newton second law video was really clear. This course is calculus based, but most of the calculus is not required to know. I think all that is need is to know is simple integration and some differentiation. Most likely power rule for both.

    Math and Physics go together. Mathematics is the tool to completing physics problems. There are algebra/trig based physics, and also calculus based physics. Giancoli, Serway, and Cutnell have physic's texts that are pretty much standard for you to learn from. Physics requires more than just math; it requires intuition. That being said, most textbooks are pretty good at providing that intuition for you to learn
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  25. Oct 13, 2014 #24
    Dumplump! While you can have a strong opinion you don't have to use words like "garbage" etc because it is still trash talking, especially when done behind a persons back and behind the keyboard. Also remember that one man's food can be another man's poison. Even though you might have not found KA useful, there are numerous people who are and have successfully used KA. Heck! Even Bill Gates is a fan of KA.

    Among the options which I gave...I am not a big fan of proffRobbob but never in my life would I trash talk about him because he is doing such a noble job of educating people for free. I guess it is very easy to talk bad and have a strong opinion or two but sometimes a little discretion goes a long way, preventing tarnished reputations, quarrels, bad impressions and last but not least, dignity.
  26. Oct 13, 2014 #25
    Oh please, you think that Khan cares? Quit trying to make a straw man argument. Quit trying to make the appeal to higher authority argument. So what if Bill Gates likes it, that is irrelevant. Bill Gates is a fan of anything that deals with education, or that makes him look like he is an ordinary person. Like I stated before, get over yourself.
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