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Studying Extremely worried about studying pre-calculus

  1. Apr 11, 2010 #1
    I'm reaching the end of a 2-course series of remedial algebra. So far I have performed greatly in both courses (A grades) but only because I spend hours in the library solving exercises through repetition. This summer I will be taking pre-calculus and I still feel like I have not learned anything that will prepare me for it.

    I believe (erroneously?) that every student taking the class with me will be able to solve problems and relate them to the real world. I don't want to be the idiot that knows how to use a hammer but doesn't know how to craft one.

    The reason this worries me so much is because I'm only interested in science and engineering (meaning, I'm not interested in working in anything else). Still, I should be able to force my mind to understand calculus, no?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2010 #2
    I'm not quite sure whether you mean you took Algebra 1 and 2 or Algebra 1a and 1b. Have you covered Trignometry if your courses? If you did, then you will fine (actually you not have to, some pre-calc courses do not require trig). How about Geometry? You will need to know some geometry for pre-calc. No, not everyone who enrolls in pre-calc are genuises. Very few (like one to three students) will "relate problems to the real world". I had classmates in calculus 1 and 2 who could not do such a thing. And you do not have to, the proffessor will teach techniques and maybe prove certian formulas.
    You just need to the following to suceed in a pre-calc course:
    1. Order of operations with integers, fractions and exponents.(Algebra)

    2. Simplify exponents, including fractional and negative exponents. (Algebra)

    3. Simplify radicals.(Algebra)

    4. Solve equations including linear, literal, absolute value, quadratic, and radical.(Algebra)

    5. Solve systems of linear equations.(Algebra)

    6. Solve and graph linear and compound (system of) inequalities. (Algebra)

    7. Determine slope, write linear equations in various forms, perpendicular and parallel lines. (Algebra)

    8. Graph equations, functions, and inequalities and shifts/transformations from parent graphs. (Algebra)

    9. Indentify domain, range, and asymptotes. (Algebra)

    10. Write and sketch inverse function and composition of functions. (Algebra)

    11. Factoring including greatest common term, difference of squares, trinomials. (Algebra)

    12. Operations with polynomials.(Algebra)

    13. Basic Geometry concepts for triangles, polygons, and circles.

    14. Area and Volume. (Geometry)

    15. Right triangle concepts including basic trigonometry ratios and Pythagorean Theorem.

    Before I enrolled in pre-calc, I had taken Algebra 1 and 2 (Elementary and Intermediate Algebra) and Geometry. Some trig was covered in Algebra 2.
  4. Apr 12, 2010 #3
    I guess look at xxsteelxx's list to see if you meet the precalc standard, but I'm not really sure what you're asking. Are you saying you're worried that the material you've been taught thusfar is insufficient? How do you know you're not prepared for calculus without having started it yet? (that is, why are you asking this question?)

    The application of this analogy becomes much more complex as you progress through the years in any subject of study. In mathematics, you'll find that you may need to spend years learning how to use a particular tool before you can properly understand it, or indeed apply it to any 'real world' problem. Once you're doing calculus, then on to things like differential equations, you'll cover far more than you'll likely need if you're studying physics (for arguments sake) alongside it. The kicker is, as you progress in physics, you'll find uses for that old maths somewhere.

    I don't really get what you mean here. Let me rephrase to see if I'm reading correctly, to me it seems as though you're saying: 'despite the fact that I'm only interested in science/engineering, I think I should still be able to understand calculus' ?

    If so, then I'm..still not really sure how to respond. Calculus will become very much integral (sorry) to your physics/engineering before long.
  5. Apr 15, 2010 #4
    Thanks for the replies and my apologies for not responding sooner. I am familiar with the majority of the concepts on xxsteelxx's list and those concepts I'm not familiar with I should be able to learn after investing quality time in the library.

    I simply think the current program I'm enrolled in might not properly prepare me for the engineering program I'd like to join (Grove School of Engineering @ CCNY). I've attended a few remedial maths classes at CCNY and it seems to me maths is taught slightly more rigorously at CCNY than BCC.

    The fact that I'm getting As in both remedial classes is what worries me the most since the amount of effort required to get those As is moderate. Another problem is that a significant number of my fellow students are not even well prepared for those courses and/or don't care about the material and just want to pass with whatever grade they get (not to mention at least 50% of the original class dropped out); I'd be more comfortable if there were 2-3 students smarter and/or better qualified than me to provide me with a "quality control" system to check my answers and get some reassurance I'm on the right track. The professors I've encountered at BCC are great, in my opinion, but a good portion of the student body needs the professors' assistance more than I do. I want to transfer out of BCC ASAP because of these reasons.

    Here are links to the syllabi from BCC and CCNY for those that would like to check:


    Remedial Classes
    Math 05: http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/05syllabusSP10.html [Broken]
    Math 06: http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/math06syllabusAug08.html [Broken]

    Pre-Calculus & Calculus I, II, III
    Math 30 (Pre-Calc): http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/math30syllabus3ed.html [Broken]
    Math 31 (Calc I w/Analytical Geometry): http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/math31syllabus.html [Broken]
    Math 32 (Calc II w/Analitycal Geometry): http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/math32syllabus6ed.html [Broken]
    Math 33 (Calc II w/Analytical Geometry): http://fsw01.bcc.cuny.edu/mathdepartment/Courses/Math/math33syllabus6ed.html [Broken]


    Remedial Classes (only 1 listed but I'm aware of at least another class)

    Pre-Calc & Calc I-III
    Precalculus: http://math.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/document/show/75
    Calculus I: http://math.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/document/show/2068
    Calculus II: http://math.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/document/show/965
    Calculus III: http://math.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/document/show/1724

    Edit: I'm even considering taking CCNY's remedials just to tie up what I may have missed. I might have to wait to hear what the advisors over there think, however.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Apr 15, 2010 #5
    Don't worry, there isn't such thing as math before calculus:biggrin:. When I started my first course in calculus, two years had passed since my previous math course. In the first class the teacher gave us a 20 page handout and said we should finish the exercises in it by the end of the week. It was mostly about factoring and simplifying polynomials. That was the only thing that was required. The trig stuff in cal 1 is easy and minimal so you shouldn't have a problem. What I suggest is that you don't waste time on the remedial course and Just go for Cal 1 and work on it like mad.The best idea is start to studying before you take it. There are plenty of materials online to give you a good start.

    Also you shouldn't expect learn to apply math to real world problems in a math class. You learn that in a science class. Also the felling that you did not completely understood the material in the class you just finished will always be there.But there is also the feeling you always knew the material from the course you took 2 semesters ago that you had to use in every problem since then.
  7. Apr 15, 2010 #6
    Search for someone who's in the same boat and you can study/work with them. You'll get a better sense of the concepts this way. This really helped many students in my class because they were helping each other on the same increasing line of understanding.
  8. Apr 16, 2010 #7
    Thank you for the responses! I am truly thankful for the advice given here; it has given me some amount of reassurance that perhaps I'm not below mediocre level. Unfortunately, my transfer application to CCNY was rejected due to not meeting the minimum credit requirement of 30crs; that means I'll have to take the precalculus class at BCC this summer. On the other hand, I got hold of a thick algebra workbook full of exercises that should keep me busy for some time.:smile:

    The next years should be very interesting since I also work and have a child on the way. I'll have to balance work, university, and family; hopefully I'm cut out for it (or I can make myself be cut out for it). I am definitely not interested in any other fields, so it seems this is an all or nothing situation, no?

    Some advice for those of you in your late teens - early twenties that may be reading this: please, focus on your education; everything else is irrelevant (especially love relationships, stay away from those until you finish your studies).
  9. Apr 16, 2010 #8

    why worry? that's not going to help you. just do the math problem... and that's all there is to it. you're getting ahead of yourself
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