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Catching up in math after calc 1 failure.

  1. Jan 3, 2007 #1
    I am not to great in math as I have never really had a good teacher, But i don't blame it on the teacher. I was just recently in a calc 1 class and got a D and have to go back and retake it. Thogh I plan to do so, I still need to brush up my lower level math, such as pre-calc and algebra, trig. i was recommend on a few #math channels on IRC to take a pre-calc book and pick up a Schaum's Outline to try to get me in line in terms of math. I wanted to ask here if this is good advice and if so which Schaum's Outline should i get there seems to be quite a few in my ball park here.

    I havetaught myself alot of the stuff I have needed but it just hasent been enogh. such as in my pe-calc class we never saw any trig functions, so In calc 1 as well as physics 1 i had to get throgh it with never actually seeing a trig function before.

    All of my schools pre-calc classes are taught by TA's and my calc professor even recommended I not take it again.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2007 #2


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    If your professor recommended that you don't take it again, that means he or she doesn't think you can possibly pass currently. I'm guessing you dropped math in school, but you are now doing it?

    Perhaps you can tell us what maths you know and give an example to show you know it, so we can better advise you. Do you know pythagoras' theorem? Can you do long division with polynomials?
  4. Jan 3, 2007 #3

    yes i can do both of them, Like i said I got though physics 1 and almost calc 1, it was not the calc that I didint understand it was the algebra that I had never learned before, such that the square root of a number id that number to half the power, or that 1/3 is 1^-3, I had to learn all of these the hard ways and never learnned them in my algebra and pre-calc classes,

    as for the professor saying not to take it again, he was saying retaking the pre-calc is not a good option because he knows the TA's suck. he told me to take calc again. just to over the break brush up on my algebra and trig.
  5. Jan 3, 2007 #4
    take pre-calc instead of calc. IT seems to be the obvious choice, if your not prepared for calc, then you make sense to drop down a level. IF not prepared for that go down to college algebra.
  6. Jan 3, 2007 #5


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    Ok then, it sounds like you just need a good book with problems to practice on. However be careful not to be falsely confident. Give it a good go.
  7. Jan 3, 2007 #6


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    I had a roommate who failed calc. I (spectacularly), twice. Not to say that the calculus concepts didnt blow his mind, but not having a good foundation in Algebra really did him a disservice.
    What he did was steped back two levels in math and retook a class on College Algebra over the summer, then took Precal during the school year. Now the math is significantly easier for him and his study skills have improved considerably. At this point, he still hasn’t passed Calc. I (3rd times the charm time semester), but I am betting that he will. Having a strong backing in Algebra and Precal goes along way to helping you succeed in Calculus.
  8. Jan 3, 2007 #7
    "or that 1/3 is 1^-3"

    I don't believe I learned that either...I imagine you mean 3^-1?

    I also had a friend who did poorly in calc I and had to retake it, but he just couldn't come to terms with the concept of a derivative for a while, such as what it was, or why it was useful. When he took it again and had seen the concepts before, he did much better, and actually pulled a good grade in the class. But I agree with the other posters, knowing your algebra thoroughly is a great help, even (or especially) as you get farther along.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
  9. Jan 3, 2007 #8
    well i dont have the option to take a step back, i already took pre-calc at my school and it was useless and my calc professor even said it was also. There is nothing below pre-calc at my school, I don't have the time to go back to it, as In 3 years I will have to fully supplement the income of 2 grandparents and my mother when she retires. as she has no retirement funding. oh yeah I also have to support my brother.
  10. Jan 3, 2007 #9

    I just typed it wrong.
  11. Jan 3, 2007 #10


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    i heaar the "i dont have time" to do things properly story all the time. people who say this usually end up failing and losing even more time than it would have taken to follow the traditional advice and actually get the background that is needed to succeed.

    experience says: good algebra skill is the key (even sine qua non) to success in calculus.
  12. Jan 3, 2007 #11
    the thing is I have taken intermediate algebra and pre-calc and got decent grades in both. a B- and an A
  13. Jan 4, 2007 #12
    What kind of troubles did you have in your Calc I course? Do you understand trig identities, trig functions now? Can you manipulate mathematical expressions easily? Such as combining fractions when dealing with "difference quotients" and stuff. The sure way to improve is to pick up a college algebra trig textbook and work your --- off, but that may not be necessary. What you MAY want to do is pick up a College Algebra textbook and start doing the problems. Start on the problems from each chapter and if you find one that you're stuck on/can't do, review that chapter. Rinse and repeat until you are done the book. Once you have the algebra out of the way calculus should be fairly easy with a bit of hard work.
  14. Jan 4, 2007 #13
    he theories of calc I got it was just the little algebra and trig tricks I hadent been taught that I wasent 100% on. I have a pre-calc book and well it has some problems but not eneogh. Thats why I was aksing if the schaum's was a good thing or not.
  15. Jan 4, 2007 #14
    algebra is the key to learning calculus. i suggest just getting an algebra book and working problems/reviewing basic concepts
  16. Jan 4, 2007 #15
    is there a specific text that you guys recommend.
  17. Jan 4, 2007 #16


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    Just been looking around, Michael Sullivan seems to be popular. Here is a cheap one if you like.
  18. Jan 4, 2007 #17
    If you believe that you just need to learn enough to get through calc I you are seriously mistaken! You will continue to suffer through all of your future classes without very sharp algebra and trig skills. Calc II requires a keen understanding of trig identities. Take algebra and pre-calc (with trig) and trig at night at a CC if you must, you will not get by without those skills I promise you.

    What is your major by the way?
  19. Jan 4, 2007 #18

    I will go ahead and suggest this one. when my younger brother was struggling with the algebra end of calculus I purchased that for him. He has gotten much better at the algebra. One side note though, it is MAINLY a review for highschool stuff and probably not the best book to use to learn highschool stuff for the first time.

    If you feel that you need to learn all the highschool stuff from scratch which sounds like it is the case. Just pick any of these https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_...ias=stripbooks&field-keywords=college+algebra. You don't need a great college algebra book for your needs, seriously. You won't have to worry about proofs or anything like that and something really rigorous is just going to slow you down. Just pick up a normal run of the mill, preferably below 500 pages, college algebra book and hit your calculus class running next time. :smile:

    Oh ya, and pick up a trigonometry book as well of course. Very important!!!
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
  20. Jan 4, 2007 #19
    What helped me a lot in taking any math course or physics for that matter was big white board (to work examples and proofs, saves erasers too!)and didn't even touch the homework till I could do all of the examples and see what the functions were doing (and their slopes) in my head. I realized I would waste so much time trying to do the homework without having a good understanding of the concepts of the lesson. Also, the internet and this forum is an excelent thing to have open right alongside of your book when your doing your homework. I learned in Cal II that everything in Cal I was cake but you must be prepared to put the time in like no other math class you have taken before, it's well worth it!

    P.S. Don't wait to start on the homework, do it while the lecture is fresh in your head!
  21. Jan 5, 2007 #20
    I would highly suggest that you retake Calc I, but try to take it with a different teacher. I found that by having a teacher explain the semi-familar concepts in a different way, I was really able to understand them much better.

    When I took Calc I the first time, I ended up with a C+. Definitely not a good grade, but it did count as "passing" and I was allowed to sign up for Calc II. So, signed up for Calc II for the next quarter with the goal of just getting it all over with as fast as I could. I lasted one day in Calc II. I emailed a different professor that night, explained that I had "passed" Calc I but did not feel strong enough with the concepts and felt that repeating Calc I would allow me to become a way better math student. I still consider it to this day, the best decision I have ever made. I was lucky to have an amazing Calc I professor the second time. The lectures were very interesting and the way he explained things just made sense. We covered the concepts that I had learned before (plus a few additional ones!), but it all seemed so much easier with the second professor's explanations. Instead of memorizing the rules for differentiation, I learned why we'd want to find the derivative, what it would tell us, how we'd find it, etc. I think I ended up with a high A at the end of that quarter (99.7%), but more importantly, I had a very solid understanding of the Calc I topics. I went on to take Calc II the quarter after and managed to get one of the highest grades (A-). I'm in Calc III now and still extremely happy with the way things are going.

    Anyway, I think you should definitely retake Calc I. Take it with a good teacher and work hard (do all of the homework, ask questions, go to office hours, etc.). Good luck!
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