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Calculus or Pre-Calculus?

  1. Jan 19, 2010 #1
    I'm currently in my senior year of high school, and just got accepted to college for engineering. Along with my acceptance letter, I was told that I should take pre-calculus before entering my freshman year of college. Currently, I am in college Algebra (Honors). I've been looking at the syllabus for Pre-Calculus at my local community college, and I THINK that I've studied most of those topics at least once in my life. My question is: should I take Pre-Calculus or Calculus over the summer in order to get ready for my freshman year of engineering?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2010 #2
    Its going to be nearly impossible for someone to give an accurate without a ton more info. That said I can't even think of what you learn in pre-calc off the top of my head. How about this.

    1. whats the sine of pi/3? (no calculator)
    2. whats the slope of a line between the points (0,3) and (2,17)?
    3. draw the graph of x^2+2x+3=0
    4. does the line y=2x+3 intersect the above parabola? If so where?

    If you can answer questions like that then I'd say your ready to take calc.
  4. Jan 19, 2010 #3
    1. whats the sine of pi/3? (no calculator)
    2. whats the slope of a line between the points (0,3) and (2,17)?
    3. draw the graph of x^2+2x+3=0
    4. does the line y=2x+3 intersect the above parabola? If so where?

    1. root3/2
    2. 7
    3. able to do by substituting values into equation and graphing points. I don't know if there is a more simpler way.
    4.yes. at (0,3). I'm not sure if there is another point, I drew the graph on a peice of scrap paper, therefore it is a bit messy.

    All of which took me about 7-8 minutes.
  5. Jan 19, 2010 #4
    I don't think those questions depict calculus very well. But you will be fine nonetheless. If its only recommended and not mandatory, that means if you have half a mind and are willing to work if need be it will not be an issue for you.

    Given that, first year calculus was mostly review for me, because I had taken high school calculus. I did no work except assignments and minimal studying and still got an 80. So it might be a good idea to take it anyways, even if to lighten your courseload to more easily transition to post secondary education.
  6. Jan 19, 2010 #5
    Maybe somebody else can remember what pre calc is about but sounds like you're better off than half the people in your average SUNY calc 1 class.
  7. Jan 19, 2010 #6
    dacruick what kinds of topics would you say he needs to know? Like I said I can't even remember what pre calc is about, those were just a few things I thought of off the top of my head that you should know to do calculus.
  8. Jan 19, 2010 #7
    You can't draw a graph of this...unless you do it in the imaginary plane, in which case it'd be two points, not really a graph.

    Clearly, you mean y = x^2 + 2x + 3
  9. Jan 19, 2010 #8
    hahaha good catch
  10. Jan 19, 2010 #9
    so the transition from college algebra to calculus is possible. What are some of the vital components of pre-calculus that college leaves out? So that I could possibly brush up on those before taking Calculus 1.
  11. Jan 19, 2010 #10
    I never took pre-calc and got an A in Calculus I. The best advice i could give would be to know your trigonometric functions, their values at common angles and their graphs well. Other than that, if you're pretty confident in your algebra skills, you should be fine (trigonometric functions and algebraic manipulation were the places in which most of the other students in my class struggled).
  12. Jan 20, 2010 #11
    Dacruick you made no attempt to describe what topics you feel would be more important, or what questions would better depict a proper preparation for calculus.
  13. Jan 20, 2010 #12
    My advice would be to take pre-calculus before your freshman year, especially if you plan on taking calculus I, and even more so if you are planning to become an engineer of some sort. Most universities run on the quarter system which means a college student who must complete calculus series I, II and III will have completed all three in the same time that a high school student will have completed calculus I (sorry if I am being condescending). Any who, my point is that if you jump straight into calculus from high school algebra, you may feel overwhelmed, especially with two or three other classes.

    I took precalculus at a community college as a two course sequence. My precalculus I class was an introduction to the different types of functions, polynomial long division, laws of logarithms, etc... Precalculus II was all trigonometry... trig functions, identities, vectors, polar cords, parametric equations, conics, as well as a little bit of series and sequences.
  14. Jan 20, 2010 #13
    I'm taking Calculus I right now and the professor told us which Precalculus topics to know. From what I remember, she said absolute values, inequalities, trig functions, factoring, trig identities, and dealing with irrational numbers. That really isn't that much stuff compared to what I learned in Precalculus last semester.
  15. Jan 23, 2010 #14
    Pre-cal is essentially College Algebra plus Trigonometry.
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