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Calculus II is giving me a hard time

  1. Jun 17, 2006 #1
    Calculus II is giving me a hard time!!

    Im embarrased to say this but I've taken Cal II 2 times already and can't get passed it. I don't understand what Im doing wrong. Im taking it this summer for the sake of getting it all over with quickly. I was confident when I went in to class because I bought Calculus for Dummies and read the crap out of it before the summer session started but somehow when it came to taking the first test I ended up making a 60 on it. I dont understand what im doing wrong. Im usually horrible at memorizing things but im really good at solving problems so I think that might have to do with it. I've never had to take a course so many times over and over except for Cal II. I have to be honest, I've never liked math but since I first stepped into a Calculus II class my outlook on math has turned around; I love it and I think it's so interesting. It frustrates me that I can't get through this class even after I taken it 2 times already.The worst part of this is that the class is sort of a road block to some of my engineering classes. I just don't know anymore...I have really bad test anxiety and I feel that's to blame but I dont know what else it could possibly be. After taking the class that many times I feel like I know the material so well but it's different feeling once I take a test. I was wondering if anyone thinks this is normal? and if it is how one did it to overcome and survive the class?

    I do have one particular question though, is it normal for teachers not to let you use a calculator or formula/integral sheet on the test?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2006 #2
    Completely normal, the numerical evaluations should be trivial, the only help a calculator would be is if it could integrate symbolically but that would defeat the purpoes of going to calc 2, likewise as calc 2 is usually half methods of integration and half infinite series an integral table would be inappropriate for the first half and useless for the second.
  4. Jun 17, 2006 #3
    Many people seem to have difficulties with Calc 2 so you are definitely not alone. When I took Calc 2 my professor let us use, in fact he gave us, a booklet of integrals (300 or so). However, this was not an advantage because of the way he set up the exam questions (for integrals that is). He would do something like; Show that the integral of something is equal to something. So having the list of integrals did not really help much (except to use a few of the pages for other notes :smile:) As for the calculator, I don't see how a calculator would help much.

    As for how to get through the class. I am not sure what works for you, but do everything you can. Post your questions in the homework help section here, go to your professor's office hours and ask for help, get a tutor to help you (many colleges have free tutoring services). Read the book, and do the exercises.
  5. Jun 17, 2006 #4
    yeah, calculators are pretty pointless in most pure math classes since exact solutions are required, and not decimal approximates, so even if they are not allowed (often times they are not), it doesn't really matter anyways.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2006
  6. Jun 17, 2006 #5
    Go to your professor. Ask for help. Go to your TA, ask for help. Basically, use whatever resources you have to the max. Try and get practice tests if possible. Given that you've had trouble before you ought to ask them for guidance on what you need to do to pass. Office hours are there for a reason, don't feel bad about going so much.

    Alternatively if you feel like you know the material well, but still struggle on exams, you might have a recognized medical condition called "test anxiety" which is fairly common, and often not diagnosed until college. People with test anxiety are often able to perform well on homework and projects, and speak intelligently on subjects, but for some reason they do poorly on tests and exams.

    So, if you think this might be affecting you, you may want to see a school counselor or psychologist (if one is avaliable), or just discuss with your prof. There are various things which can be done to help alleviate test anxiety offered by most colleges (extra time on tests, less crowded test environment, counseling, etc)
  7. Jun 18, 2006 #6
    Calc II is a horrible, nasty class that has a ton of really interesting topics. Unfortunately, it moves way to fast to explore or enjoy them :smile: . The good news is, once you get past it, the other math classes are not as bad.

    The problem with calc II is that it's very disjointed, most of the sections don't seem to build off each other very much, so each new section represents a lot of new material that has to be learned and memorized for the test. Since your not using the material section to section, it can be overwhelming when you go back to review for a test and realize that it's almost like looking at the material for the first time because it's been 3 or 4 weeks since you used it. This is unlike diff eq or calc III where you often immediately got to apply material learned in one section to the next section. This makes reviewing for tests much easier, but if you get behind, your in big trouble.

    A little trick that my diff EQ teacher told me that made that class a lot easier. Just pick a number 1 to 20 or something, then go through each section of the book starting at the first section covered in class and do that numbered problem. Treat it like a test, don't let yourself look up info in the book, unless you would have the info available to you for the test. Even if you get some of the problems wrong or can't do them without looking stuff up, it will still help you keep up with the material you already learned and can help show you what you will need to concentrate on for the test.

    On another note, since you mentioned your an engineering major, there seem to be a few classes in engineering programs that are designed to weed out those that are not likely to make it through. They are placed early on to help keep people from wasting to much time. Calc II and thermodynamics are two classes I can point to in my program that seemed designed to force you to work harder then you were used to and had staggering drop rates. I still can't believe how much time we had to spend on those lab reports in thermo and the high grade was never more then 83%. Of the 32 people that started my clac II class, 21 took the final and I know for a fact that at lease 2 of them had no chance of passing, they were just doing it to see what the final looked like in preparation for retaking it the next semester.
  8. Jun 18, 2006 #7
    Haha, this is so true. Calc 2 and thermo are definitely universally sceduled weeder courses in most engineering curricula. Another course is dynamics.

    I am not an ME major though, so the weeder courses are a bit different. :p

    btw, kdinser, where do you go to school?
  9. Jun 18, 2006 #8
    Thanks guys for all the advice. I love the people on this website, yall are very helpful and supportive. With that said, I decided to write my professor an email stating my situation that I feel like my exam grades dont properly reflect my actual learning progress in the class. I basically told him that I plan on meeting with him during office hours to hear any advice or help he might have for me. Sounds good right? I hope everything goes well. It'll be a nightmare if I end up failing this class. I swear, I honestly feel like I can be a Calculus II tutor and would be successful at it. I know the material but it has almost been a long curse I've had to live with when it comes to taking tests. For some reason im just not good at tests but put a problem on the board and I'll show you how to solve it. It sucks...I just feel so imcompetent.
  10. Jun 20, 2006 #9


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    after every test, take the test and work out every problem in detail. do this for all tests in all versions of the cousere you have taken before. get a schaums outline serties and work not just one random problem out of every 20, but work every single problem until you begin to do well.
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