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From algebra 1 through pre-calculus.

  1. Dec 25, 2007 #1
    Do you feel it is possible to educate ones self from algebra 1, through pre-calculus, given 6 full months of study, say 50 hours a week?

    I just want an honest opinion on what my chances may be, assuming I'm of average proficiency.

    And by “educate ones self”, I mean sit down with books and work through the problems.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2007 #2


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    NO. That much time for the range of courses is ridiculous.

    You can self-direct your study, but each "course" should require at least 14 weeks, studying maybe 12 to 16 hours per week; even 3 months per course might be too tough for some of them.

    Algebra 1 - 3 month minimum; difficult for some people since it is a bit(or more) different than Basic Mathematics/Arithmetic.
    Geometry - 3 month minimum; also some people find it difficult and maybe need to repeat it, but also this course is not really a strong prerequisite for algebra 2.
    Algebra 2 - 3 month minimum; new material because it extends greatly what you learned in Algebra 1.
    Trigonometry - yes this is often available as a separate dedicated course. Minimum 3 months; tough, but usually more enjoyable. The Geometry of circles, triangles, waves, graphs of periodic behavior...
    PreCalculus - 4 months is best as minimum if you really want to learn well. More advanced Algebra than the intermediate level, includes sequences & seried, some proofs, also includes much of the Trigonom that you would find in a regular Trigonometry course.

    Six months to go through the whole range of courses is just too short. The one good thing is that you get the chance to review algebra at an increasingly advancing level, with frequent review of some basic concepts. The whole range of courses may require 2 or more years to fully be confident and proficient.
  4. Dec 25, 2007 #3
    I don't see why not. An average class at my high school lasted about 120 hours a year. It could take significantly less or more depending on which books you use and how well you can understand abstract concepts. The hardest part is being motivated and being honest with yourself, especially with self testing.


    Actually, I'm going to agree with the guy above it. If it was as simple as memorization it would be possible. But if you want to actually do well you have to understand what you're learning. Spending any less than a few months on a given subject and expecting to actually understand it is unrealistic. Unless you're a genius.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2007
  5. Dec 25, 2007 #4


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    it really does not matter what we think, just sit down and see how far you get. i recommend harold jacobs' books, algebra and geometry, since those contain the most important parts of precalculus math. this about 2 years worth of high school math, but if you are older than high school age, and spend full time at it, i think it is possible, since high schoolers spend very little time studying each subject.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2007
  6. Dec 25, 2007 #5


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    Well let's see. Suppose that's 7 semesters of high school math. I probably spent 7 hours a week (lectures and studying) on math, for 20 weeks a semester. So that comes to about 1000 hours of math. If you did 24 weeks for 50 hours a week, that comes to 1200 hours of math. So it should be possible.
  7. Dec 25, 2007 #6
    Thanks for the responses. I am working at this as hard as I can, and thus far have not gotten "hung up" on anything too bad. I guess I'll just see how far I do get, and take it from there.

    Basically, I want to get back into school next fall, but graduated HS 6 years ago.

    Thanks a lot.
  8. Dec 25, 2007 #7
    Why do you feel you need to have all of this accomplished in order to go back to school? Just do as much as you can. Don't set the bar too high if not accomplishing it will set you back due to discouragement.

    Good luck either way,
  9. Dec 25, 2007 #8
    This sounds just like me. I went back to school after being gone for 6 years. In high school i took geometry and algebra II, but I forgot most of it. A few weeks before I went back to school, I started reviewing a high school algebra book. I retaught myself rudimentary algebra, but when I started college I had to start in a course equivalent to algebra II in high school. I did that class in the spring, then took precalculus in the summer, and then calculus in the fall. That was three years ago, now I'm a double physics and math major, this fall I took an advanced calculus that used baby Rudin (the hardest class of my life), so I came a long way in three plus years. The key was I never put my math book down for one day. Keep working, and just try to learn as much as possible before you enroll. Whatever class you test into, just work hard from there. You can do it.
  10. Dec 26, 2007 #9
    Yep, I did this or something very close to it.

    I self studied algebra for about 3 weeks before going back to school. I then took a standard CC entry exam and tested out of college algebra. I took a 5 week trig course over the summer and then self-studied pre-cal before enrolling in Calculus I the following fall semester.

    You'll obviously miss (more than) a few concepts by self studying in such a compressed time line, but you'll be able to fill in those gaps during Cal I. I actually found Cal I to be much more difficult than Cal II because I was learning a lot of algebra concepts I had not properly covered the first time around. Regardless, the method I used worked for me and I made it out of CC w/ a 3.95 GPA and was prepared enough by my CC education to hold a 4.0 in my university GPA. The people who say not to do this are just kill-joys that think one must master every concept in a previous course to move on to the next.
  11. Dec 26, 2007 #10
    That's a perfect schedule for doing what I detailed above. Study up until the summer and test out of algebra. Then take a trig course for your CC's first 5-6 week minimester and Pre-Cal for the second minimester. You'll then be set to start up Cal I that coming fall.

    The best of luck to you. I started back at school at 25 and am a year away from getting my BSEE. It was the best decision I've made in my life, barring marrying my wife.
  12. Dec 27, 2007 #11
    You could probably do it if you really did spend 50 hours a week like you said. A lot of the material I learned in Algebra 2 was review of Algebra 1 and A LOT of the Pre-Calculus material was a review of Algebra 2. Basically, first semester was Trigonometry and the second semester was Algebra 2 all over again except in a little bit more detail and with a couple of minor additional topics.
  13. Dec 27, 2007 #12
    Waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in HS, I was able to work at my own pace in math. I completed all 4 years in just over a year and a half, and that with not much studying, having to do schoolwork in other classes, and running cross country and track for the first year, so I'd say yes it's possible.
  14. Dec 29, 2007 #13
    I'm going through the exact same thing right now. It's been exactly 6 years since HS, and I am now trying to get into a University.

    I set the bar way too high for myself when I started, and it did discourage me quite a bit. Without ever taking any physics or chemistry classes, I tried to jump in and take a pre-U independent credit course, and found myself expecting way too much after such a long break from school. I forgot many things I learned, including most maths.

    I'm about 50 pages from finishing my pre-Calc demystified book, which took about 3 weeks. Had to go back and review alot of basic Algebra. I think this book is great, it covers trig, quad/poly/rational/inverse functions, exp/logs, matricies, sequence n series etc. I ordered a chemistry, physics, trig, books, and will be digging in once I finish this one.

    At first, I set myself to 6 months, to get all 6 Uni level credits. But that was nearly impossible given my situation. My new goal now is to finish them in 18 months, apply to Uni by Feb '09........and from Feb till Sep, try to catch up on concepts I might have missed out on.
  15. Dec 29, 2007 #14
    I also recommend:

    Algebra and Trigonometry (2nd Edition) (Beecher/Penna/Bittinger Series) - https://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Trig...=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198992899&sr=8-6

    Functions and Graphs (Dover Books on Mathematics) - https://www.amazon.com/Functions-Gr...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198992904&sr=8-1

    Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell: Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry - https://www.amazon.com/Precalculus-...=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198992906&sr=8-2

    Cheap, not dummified, and definitely walks you through forgotten Math.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2007
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