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Calculus II sans pre-requisite

  1. Sep 8, 2010 #1
    To make a potentially novella-length post very short, I'll skip the useless back story and say only that I had perhaps the most haphazard and unsatisfactory introduction to Calculus I one can imagine. I completed most of the course in about four weeks, and three-quarters of my work remains ungraded by the instructor, which is what finally drove me to abandon the class. It was an excellent course for really absorbing the core concepts of Calculus, but involved very little calculation; the problem I'm (unsuprisingly) encountering now in my Calculus II and Analytical Geometry class is that while I understand the predominant ideas, I am terrible at problem solving. I hadn't ever done an integral before my first day of Calculus II, and haven't taken Trigonometry since tenth grade, but I suppose I foolishly assumed that Calc II would start off with a review of integrals and that the analytical geometry would be more accessible. The class began moving so rapidly, I'm struggling to keep up while teaching myself the material I need from Calculus I.

    I do realize that this situation is not ideal, but at this point it cannot be helped. I am doing lots of problems but find myself having to do so much back work to complete them that it can take upwards of 6 hours to complete 20 questions.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to start over with a new major and am happy to be in Calc II, but I need a little advice at this point. I would love to hear about coping, compensation, and time-management strategies from anyone who has taken a difficult course without having completed it's prerequisite, or who thinks they can offer insight based on their experience with Calculus.

    Thank you!

    (If a similar question is posted elsewhere and my search didn't turn it up I offer all the newb-snipers lavish, gratuitous apologies. )
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2010 #2
    " I hadn't ever done an integral before my first day of Calculus II..."

    Damn, good luck man. Calc 2 had integrals of death, imo...

    You might almost want to withdraw from the course, unless you've superhuman study abilities.
  4. Sep 8, 2010 #3
    Oh, have no doubt that I've strongly considered it a time or thirty. The only reason I keep going is that I am noticing progress- I've found an excellent site offering Calculus instruction and use that to supplement my book, which has really facilitated my efforts to catch up. The analytical geometry is murder, though, and I quiver in terror at the thought of partial fractions.

    I knew I was in trouble the first day when my (admittedly wonderful and skillful) professor asked who'd already done the material from the first module of the text, and the ENTIRE CLASS raised their hands. *facepalm*
  5. Sep 8, 2010 #4
    Quoted for truth.

    If you pass Calc 2 without Calc 1, consider that an epic win. That should be the first line on your obituary: "Passed Calc 2 without Calc 1."
  6. Sep 10, 2010 #5
    You seem to have your work cut out for you since the main purpose of Calc 2 is to teach techniques of integration.

    The benefit is that the second half of the course deals primarily with things like sequences, series and their convergence/divergence (wont see any integrals during this part with one exception)

    As far as helpful advice, my professor taught me that instead of mindlessly solving integrals, it is better to analyze the problems and look for patterns (making changes to the integral and seeing how that affects the solution)
  7. Sep 10, 2010 #6
    I think you should be able to do it. None of the applications of the derivative (related rates, optimization, curve sketching) really come up in Calculus 2. The only thing you need to be able to is take derivatives via the chain, power and quotient rules without mistakes so you can do u-substitution and understand integration by parts. I'm sure you are not the only person in your class a little rusty in trigonometry. The integrals you do in calc 1 are not hard if you get the concept.

    Just try to practice taking derivatives and maybe spend a day deriving the trig formulas from the three main ones (sin^2 + cos ^2 = 1 and the formulas for sin(A+B) and cos (A+B). Also try to refresh yourself on the inverse trig functions. This is everything I think you need and I'm sure you'll do well in your class. Also 6 hours for 20 questions isn't really slow.
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