Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Having a big trouble with Mathematics, but I like it and I need it. Suggestions?

  1. Nov 5, 2012 #1
    I am currently a Chemistry major, and I am really good with sciences.
    My problem is with math ( Calculus), in fact I always had trouble with mathematics. The problem with my situation, is that I am really interested in Math Application, in addition I really need it for my major. So I want a way where I can become proficiency in Mathematics. Mostly, I am lacking some small basic mathematical skills that reflect largely on my Calculus skills.

    I have a tutor hired from my college, and she isn't that good, when I ask her a question she looks it up in the book wasting half an hour to get an answer.

    So please help me so I can guide through Calculus I and II!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2012 #2
    start by asking for a different tutor.
  4. Nov 5, 2012 #3
    What problems are you having with mathematics? Can you elaborate on the struggles that you have? For example, do you know how to do things but you make silly mistakes? Or are you missing too much background? Or...?

    Many people struggle with calculus. It seems suddenly very different than math topics in high school. In high school, you can just follow the methods and procedures. But in calculus, you need creativity (which comes with practicing a lot). For example, solving an integral requires much more creativity than solving a quadratic equations. Memorizing procedures won't get you very far in calculus: you will need to practice a lot and do a lot of hard questions.

    If you miss background, for example if you don't know basic trig formulas, then you will struggle. Math is cumulative, so if you miss a part of the basics, then you will get stuck after a while. A solution might be to pick up a book like "basic mathematics" by Lang and study it/make exercises. That might be helpful.

    And finally: I agree that you just get a different tutor. But don't assume a tutor will solve all your problems. You should see it more as a secondary resource. The primary resource should be the problems you solve and the textbook you read.
    Another good secondary resource that you might want to check out are Khan Academy and Paul's notes. But again: this should only be a secondary resource!
  5. Nov 5, 2012 #4
    Thanks alot,
    I do make a lot of silly mistake, a lot on exams! It's not that I don't have Basic algebra and Trig that much, it's more of remembering it, which I usually don't on EXAMS. Things like remembering how to find the slant asympotate, I do know what is it, but somehow I forgot how. As soon as I look it up, I catch it back really quick. The problem is that these type a problems appear on exams, but never show in practice problems - which are more of Calculus concepts.

    The professor told me that I do miss some creativity in mathematics? so what is a good way to develop a strong creativity in it?
  6. Nov 5, 2012 #5
    Wander around at khanacademy for a while. While on its own it might not completely cement your foundations, you will learn/review a lot very quickly with the videos at that site.
  7. Nov 5, 2012 #6
    You might consider getting some supplemental books that you can read in your spare time to aide your way in calculus. I am a big fan of the "The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus" for calculus 1 and 2.
  8. Nov 5, 2012 #7
    In the same boat as you Raid. I am also planning to major in Chemistry, doing absolutely fantastic in Physics and Chemistry, but getting destroyed by Calculus/Math. I am also hoping someone has some good pointers for what to do, to help improve math skills, for those of us who like it's application, but not pure math/theory and thus are struggling in the full on math courses.
  9. Nov 5, 2012 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Good in sciences but bad at "math ( Calculus)". Not surprising. "Learning" Mathematics at college level is all about learning to understand and try to develop the tool. In your Chemistry and Physics courses, you APPLY the tool and not really focus on studying the tool.

    How did you bring yourself up to the Calculus level? Did you repeat your previous Mathematics courses? If so then that tells you something. Even if you did not need to repeat them,maybe that is just what you must do. Why? Maybe you need more time than just the semester to succeed in each semester Calculus course. OR, maybe you are weak in some prerequisite knowledge and need to review that intensively. When you study something again which you previously studied, you should expect to get better at it. Maybe you could, if you have the time, try to learn a Calculus course BEFORE you enroll in it. If you do not take/have the time to do that, then you must be willing to repeat each course which you not pass successfully.

    Summary is that two reasons are for not passing a Math course, especially Calculuses:
    1. Weak in prerequisite knowledge
    2. Semester length time too short for you to learn course.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook