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Having a really hard time in highschool

  1. May 28, 2010 #1
    Ok so i'm currently doing the calculus and vectors course (we sacrificed integrals to include vectors) And i'm finding that course really difficult. I don't know what it is but man no matter how much time i spend on it (atleast 3 hrs a day) i can't seem to get it. Well that's sort of a lie. I understand some of it but when it comes to test time, i really just do poorly. When i take the test, i believe i'm gonna do well. Then i get it back and it's only a 60.

    The crappy thing about this is that i want to do math at university (still got another year to do) I'm just wondering how i should approach this course. What are good study tips ? How do people usually approach math courses? Maybe it's because my approach is all wrong.

    Another thing is that i know i work alot harder than some people in my class but they get in the 80s and 90s. YET THEY'RE SO LAZY. It's just really frustrating. By the way, as you can see my grammar and vocabulary stinks. I got a 50% in english.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2010 #2
    What is the course like? Got a sample paper or a list of contents?
    Find more examples if you can, to get a feel for the topics. I can't really comment though since the mathematics my highschool did (and actually any highscool mathematics in the UK) was really piddly.
  4. May 28, 2010 #3
    chapter 1: intro to calculus

    1.1 radical expressions: rationalizing denominators
    1.2 the slope of a tangent
    1.3 rates of change
    1.4 limit of a function
    1.5 properties of limits
    1.6 continuity


    2.1 the derivative function
    2.2 the derivatives of a polynomial functions
    2.3 the product rule
    2.4 quotient rule
    2.5 derivatives of composite functions


    3.1 higher order derivaives, velocity, and acceleration
    3.2 minimum and maximum on an interval (extreme values)
    3.3 optimization problems
    3.4 optimization problems in economics and science


    4.1 increasing and decreasing functions
    4.2 critical points, local maxima and local minima
    4.3 vertical and horizontal asymptotes
    4.4 concavity and points of inflection
    4.5 an algorithm for curve sketching


    5.1 derivatives of exponential functions, y= e^x
    5.2 the derivative of the general exponential function, y=b^x
    5.3 optimization problems involving exponential functions
    5.4 the derivatives of y = sinx and y = cosx
    5.5 the derivative of y = tanx


    6.1 introduction to vectors
    6.2 vector addiction
    6.3 multiplication of a vector by a scalar
    6.4 properties of vectors
    6.5 vectors in 2 and 3 space (R^2 and R^3)
    6.6 operations with algebraic vectors in R^2
    6.7 operations with vectors in R^3
    6.8 linear combinations and spanning sets

    7.1 vectors as forces
    7.2 velocity
    7.3 the dot product of two geometric vectors
    7.4 the dot product of algebraic vectors
    7.5 scalar and vector projections
    7.6 cross product of two vectors
    7.7 applications of the dot product and cross product


    8.1 vector and parametric equations of a line in R^2
    8.2 cartesian equation of a line
    8.3 vector, parametric and symmetric equations of a line in R^3
    8.4 vector and parametric equations of a plane
    8.5 the cartesian equation of a plane
    8.6 sketching planes in R^3


    9.1 intersection of a line with a plane and the intersection of 2 lines
    9.2 systems of equations
    9.3 the intersection of two planes
    9.4 the intersection of three planes
    9.5 the distance from a point to a line in R^2 and R^3
    9.6 the distance from a point to a plane.

    not sure if that's what you're looking for but here it is.
  5. May 28, 2010 #4
    That is the weirdest curriculum ever, it has Calc I and Calc III stuff all over the place
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2010
  6. May 29, 2010 #5
    Hm. Most of it should boil down to knowing definitions, and having a grasp of the 'direction' of the topics.
    Like "If I know this, I can work this out", and "to get this, I require that" kind of knowledge connecting each formula in each topic.

    Try and make some revision summary sheets. Go through your notes and your textbook for explicit formulae and definitions. Make sure you understand every line in the textbook. It's not like history or literature - every word counts.

    You should be able to enumerate everything they can ask you.
  7. May 29, 2010 #6
    What country do you live in? I'm just asking because, as others have said, that looks like a very strange course. I've studied those areas in Calc I, Calc II and intro linear algebra. Strange that they would wrap it all up together in a HS course.

    Try your best, but don't stress out too much. Life is too short for that type of thing, and math is not he "be all-end all".

    For the stuff in chapters 8 and 9 try to draw out a diagram before tackling the question. Even if your diagram is two lines. Visualizing is often very difficult (for me), but drawing a diagram, even a crude one, has been helpful for me.
  8. May 29, 2010 #7


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    How are your algebra skills? Are you getting poor marks because of the algebraic manipulations? Why did you get a 60? In what area did you receive poor marks, and for what?
  9. May 29, 2010 #8
    You mean you are giving yourself a really hard time in high school! The most important thing is to be happy, and you can be happy getting 50% at high school.

    Do you really want to do mathematics at college or do you want to be happy?

    It might be possible that you could be happy doing mathematics at college, but it looks as if you might struggle. So if you don't/can't do mathematics at college will the world end? Lots of people don't do mathematics at college and are as happy as bugs in rugs. Some of those people have the most modest of jobs - cleaners, porters, whatever.

    You don't need much to be happy - bread, water, shelter. Try reading a little on the philosophy of Epicurus, it's a lot easier that mathematics or English tests and is likely to do a lot more to make you content with life:

    http://www.epicurus.info/etexts/ier.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. May 29, 2010 #9
    Every lesson i try to understand where everything comes from because i just can't accept using what the taecher taught us if i don't know where it comes from. So i try to understand the derivation of formulas and such. But honestly it takes alot of time. Most people just follow the algorithm of what the teacher does and believe they're doing math. But honestly, i believe it's something much more than that. Math really is everything and i want to be apart of this subject.

    Here's a little history of where i'm at for math and how i got there.

    It started when i didn't like doing stone masonry (i was 17 at the time and was my last highschool year) then during summer i had a choice between doing brazilian jiu jitsu full time or going back to school. I talked to my brazilian jiu jitsu instructor and he advised me to obtain knowledge and that education is really important. So i went back to high school for my victory lap.

    Sure everybody made fun of me but i was doing it because my instructor told me to and he never steered me anywhere wrong. So i believed in him and i believed in what i was doing. I was never good at school BECAUSE I NEVER TRIED. I NEVER TRIED IN MY LIFE!!!!!! THIS MEANS I GOT 50% AS PITY PASSES!!!!! That is until my mentor (brazilian jiu jitsu instructor) believed in me and what i was capable of. So i started trying and all my previous teachers knew something was up.

    For the whole last semester of highschool i woke up at 6:00 in the morning and bussed to my highschool (which is 1 hr away) I struggled in the beginning because i didn't know how to isolate for variables. Then i started learning and slowly but surely i got higher and higher marks on my tests. Math was basically my life last semester and still is right now. I would do about 5 -9 hrs of math every day in total.

    I ended up getting a 72% in gr 11 functions class. I just finished grade 12 functions class with an 80% but i was also doing gr 12 advance functions and calculus and vectors simultaneously. I struggled with calculus and vectors in the beginning and i still sort of do now.

    But you know what? I'm proud of my progress and i wouldn't have it any other way. I made a promise to my other mentor (me and my grade 11 math teacher became really good friends so he's my other mentor as well) that i will get a math degree.

    Um I live in canada. Ontario is the province to be more precise. Apparently the math curriculum has gone through many changes here in my city. Before calculus/vectors/geometry/finite mathematics/functions were all a seperate course but then they started combining things.

    I also really like math and if i don't have math, i have no idea what to study for in university. I'm scared of the future because if i fail this, i really am at a loss at what i'm gonna do. I don't like any other subject at all. I tried programming but i disliked it. Tried economics but i hate how in tests there were "right" answers but "more right" answers. In history and english, there's way too many essays to write and i can't structure my ideas at all. On top of that, it's too subjective and ideas never come to me when i'm writing.
    Last edited: May 29, 2010
  11. May 29, 2010 #10
    My English teacher at school said I was unteachable. She was an English graduate from Oxford. Now I'm going to be a maths graduate from Cambridge. No wonder we didn't get along :P

    You have a charming story.

    Learn the algorithms. There's a sort of dual relationship between intuition for algorithms and the actual theory. (as a trivial example, learning how to divide numbers algorithmically might help you understand proofs about facts about division)

    Also, most proofs you'll come across are probably somewhat boring (and unnecessary), so as long as you understand what the theorem says, why the theorem "isn't obvious", and how to apply it. For now, the methodology is more important.

    You might benefit more by using time to write out problems logically and systematically instead of proving things that you don't need to prove (leave that for later, if you are adamant on going to uni to study mathematics). That way, you'll master the methods and anyone checking your work will be able to follow you too.

    Your curriculum looks like half way between the UK's "maths" and "further maths". I'm sure you can handle it. Good luck though. Now, back to revision for me. Wasted enough time on this forum Dx
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