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Schools How to prep for University Mathematics

  1. Feb 18, 2009 #1
    Hey, guys I'm in my last year of highschool and I am wondering how i could do some self preparation for University mathematics next year? This is the case as I have been told college math is very challenging and less directed toward algorithms. Right now I am currently enrolled in a standard Calculus and vectors course and I don't think it alone will be enough to give me a solid background for what is ahead.
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  3. Feb 18, 2009 #2


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    read some calculus 1 and 2 books to keep yourself up to date...I don't know how your university is but I know most do not recognize high school calculus. So just read read read =]
  4. Feb 18, 2009 #3


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    If you find most of the stuff you're doing right now in calculus and easily use things you learned in pre-calculus (trig identities, fraction decomposition, manipulation of properties of logarithms and exponents) you're definitely in good shape. As was mentioned above, most universities don't recognize normal high school calculus (unless it's AP), so you will likely end up taking calculus again your first year of college. In this case, if you remember your calculus from this year and keep fundamentals of pre-calculus and geometry in mind, it should be relatively easy for you.
  5. Feb 18, 2009 #4
    What course was the person you asked enrolled in? As you get into the 300 and 400+ level math courses, I'd imagine they'd get more challenging. For me, Calculus I and II didn't really require much prior preparation. If you're comfortable now, you should be fine. If you're taking AP Calculus (especially BC), you'll be more than prepared.

    What are you planning to Major in?
  6. Feb 18, 2009 #5
    im planning on doing a double major in math and another subject that im unsure of at the moment. my math teacher is the one who gave the class his input on University Math. I kinda regret not choosing AP Calc. Its too late now. Is AP calc. similar to university calc.?
  7. Feb 18, 2009 #6


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    Yes, AP calculus (AB) is the equivalent of university calculus I, and AP calculus (BC) is the equivalent of university calculus I and II. The courses (should) cover the same material in the same amount of depth, which is why universities will grant credit for an appropriate score on the AP exam.
  8. Feb 18, 2009 #7
    I'm in BC, we just finished our last section of AB, and now we're totally in BC for the remaining 3 months. We do a lesson a day, I absolutely love it.

    But a lot of kids at my school only take Calculus Honors (the only non-AP calculus course offered) and they go on to be perfectly fine with their college calculus. So I wouldn't worry a whole lot, especially if you care enough to actually self-prep yourself! You should be golden.
  9. Feb 22, 2009 #8
    Yeah its comparable. In highschool you are doing a year, which is two semesters. AP AB does 1 semester of Calc, AP BC is equivalent to Calc I and Calc II.

    I had done Chemistry AP in highschool and then college level Chemistry and the AP class was actually far more challenging. The Chem in college was a joke and all multiple choice tests as they didnt want to hand grade all 400 students tests.

    It is better if you can take it in highschool, you are spending about 5 hours a week in class compared to college where you are about 2.5 to 3 hours a week in class.
  10. Feb 23, 2009 #9
    If you are doing well in BC (although I did see some people doing BC and having trouble with a proof-heavy course), I would go on and learn some linear algebra and multivariable calculus (Calc III).
  11. Feb 23, 2009 #10
    Not trying to steal the thread at all, but since you mentioned it... I have a 95 in Calc BC and I find that the course grasps my attention quite well and I pick up on the concepts rapidly. Is there a good book that you know of to go ahead and continue my Calc II at an accelerated rate along with Calc III? I absolutely detest our book (it covers I, II, and III). It's probably one of the only books I've never been able to self-learn anything to adequacy.

    Thanks in advance. And sorry again for detracting from the thread starter :approve:
  12. Feb 23, 2009 #11
    Spivak is what you're looking for.
  13. Feb 23, 2009 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Feb 24, 2009 #13
    It's the right one, but that doesn't have Calc III though.
  15. Feb 24, 2009 #14
    Well in spirit of self-prepping yourself for University Mathematics...

    I've found the 3rd Edition for sale online, does it contain the Calc III? Or what am I looking for?
  16. Feb 24, 2009 #15
    Spivak's calculus book deals only with single variable. It does not have calc III. If you are looking for a book that is more of a continuation of your AP calculus course, I would NOT recommend that you get something like Spivak's second calculus book ("Calculus on Manifolds"). Great book, but I personally think it might be too difficult for you. You really need to know proof-heavy calc I and calc II, and even then it's very difficult and if you are more on computation side, you better look at something else.

    I really don't know any "applied" calculus books that deal with several variables other than something like Stewart. But it's an OK book and it's widely used, so you might want to consider that.
  17. Feb 24, 2009 #16
    Ah okay. I thought we were looking for a single book with Calc II and III in it. So you just suggest Spivak to cover what I'm probably missing in the speed of BC Calc to be sure that I understand the concepts more thoroughly and go on to take Calc III in college?
  18. Feb 24, 2009 #17
    There are many factors. First, you won't understand calc III (there's a thread about this) without basic linear algebra. Spivak is, people might disagree, primarily geared towards math majors. I don't know what book you are using, but it will be different. And what are you planning to go into? If you are going to be an engineer, Spivak could be a good challenge but probably not the optimal choice.

    Again, I don't know any single book that has calc II and calc III together. Many books separate these two.
  19. Feb 24, 2009 #18
    Yes I've been reading the Linear Algebra pre req. thread as well :approve:

    And as of right now I'm going into Computer Eng. but this won't last because I have no passion to major in computers anymore. It's really all in math/physics right now, so in answer to your question, probably an extremely oriented math major perhaps even math itself.

    I really just want to be sure I pass the AP exam (both parts), but NOT at the cost of a full understanding of what I'm possibly exempting in college. I don't want to be one of the many cases I've heard of where kids get on their high horse after making a 5 on the BC exam, then struggle with the simplest precursors for Calc III in the first weeks of the course!
  20. Feb 24, 2009 #19
    Spivak series or Apostol series would be good. But maybe it's a good time to start a thread? :smile:
  21. Feb 24, 2009 #20
    Sounds like a plan. I've milked this one for far too long. Thanks for the help though.
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