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How to study for Calculus I (College)

  1. Jun 6, 2012 #1
    I recently got back my first Calculus I exam in college, and I received a B.
    To study, I watched Patrick JMT, read over my notes, and did a few practice problems.
    When I got to the exam, I found it hard to recall the steps that I practiced for working out problems, but I remembered most later during the test. I want to do better on the next midterm and the final, and I could use some advice for improvement. The last math class I took before this was Pre-Calculus in my Junior year of high school. Any general tips for studying math and Calculus would be great. We're also starting derivatives tomorrow in class.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2012 #2
    Practice practice practice!
  4. Jun 6, 2012 #3
    This may be your problem. It's a sad fact that introductory calculus courses consist entirely of symbol shuffling devoid of any theory or context; doing well means doing as many practice problems as you can get your hands on.
  5. Jun 6, 2012 #4
    For studying in general I found it extremely beneficial to try to teach the concept to other people. Perhaps you can start a study group and take a fairly active role.
  6. Jun 6, 2012 #5
    Re: How to study for Calculus I

    You did a "few" practice problems. How much is that?? If you forgot the steps during your exam, then this indicates you didn't practice enough. In my opinion, you need to practice quite a lot before you truly get it. Just working 3 or 4 problems is not enough.
    Furthermore, it is best to do something every day. If you make problems every day, then you will remember it better later.

    Furthermore, don't use your book while practicing. You just need to have a paper and a pencil. Don't cheat by looking it up (except perhaps the first few exercises).

    Also, try to make the hardest exercises in your book. Don't settle for the easy things.

    Really, practice is key in calculus. You really need to invest quite a lot of time in it.
  7. Jun 7, 2012 #6
    Hi, i was also facing the same problem in calculus, i also used to do lots of practice and i feel the benefit of that but one thing i notice that my basic is not so good. To improve my basic i had taken help from online calculus tutor.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2012
  8. Jun 9, 2012 #7
    Practice problems and flash cards are my favorite strategies.
  9. Jun 9, 2012 #8
    Although practice is important, I [personally] believe reading through the concepts until you completely understand them is more important, or should at least come before extensive practicing. For example, in calculus 1 I practiced washers and cylindrical shells (volume) quite a bit and had the formulas memorized but I still had trouble on the test because I didn't completely understand what I was doing. It wasn't really until early calculus 2 that, looking back on it, I began to understand the concept of adding the volumes of Infinitesimally thin disks, after which I found it easy to find the formula without pulling it out of my memory.
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