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Other I am unsure of my ability to learn higher math

  1. Jun 13, 2016 #1
    I have just completed my algebra class. In ascending order I have to take Algebra+Trig, Pre-calc, and Calc. I received a "B" in my algebra class; it's a passing grade, but not particularly good. I had a hard time retaining the previous material, when learning new concepts. I will say, that my professor for the class was not a great teacher. He would project a paper with the material already answered(lots of incorrect answers too), quickly read over it, and move on. I have picked a professor for my next class, who has phenomenal reviews, so I'm hoping that will help.

    Anyways, I have looked in the Calculus section here and all the variables are very intimidating. Will I have a natural progression as I move up the list(assuming I put the required effort into it)? I am confident I will pass ALG-Trig; but come time for Pre-calc, I am afraid I will hit a wall. Any tips, knowledge, or experiences with my situation are greatly appreciated.
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  3. Jun 13, 2016 #2

    Paul Colby

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    I don't know if this is at all helpful but I've always found my ability to retain/understand a subject depends strongly on my required use of the subject. In school subjects are taught as an end in themselves. If I didn't happen to share those ends my retention was limited. However, when there is a goal in mind that requires learning, things become easier. People for which the goal is getting a good grade are called good students. People like myself, learning impaired.
  4. Jun 13, 2016 #3


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    it helps to review. since you got a B, there are topics you need more work on. I suggest getting Harold Jacobson's book Algebra and working through it over the summer.
  5. Jun 13, 2016 #4


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    Avner wants to know:
    This forum, as much as any forum, is not an instructional textbook. Attending courses, reading the expected sections from the book, doing homework exercises, will be much better structured. You WILL find a logical progression in each course and from one course to the next one.

    You very well could hit a wall at some point. Maybe Pre-Calculus will be that wall. Maybe something before it; maybe something after it.

    You did not say which Algebra you recently earned your B grade. That is not a bad grade. If you just finished Algebra 1 or "Introductory Algebra", then the next course to do would be either Geometry, or Algebra 2 (Intermediate Algebra). The courses generally become harder as you go, but that does not mean you would be unable to learn.

    Hit the wall? You have ways to break this wall. Some of them, anyway. Reviewing on your own what you may have already studied; review and get tutoring; doing a course a second time (although there is academic risk in this one); LONGER AND MORE FREQUENT STUDY. Doing MORE exercises than are assigned in class.
  6. Jun 13, 2016 #5
    I review back and forth. Working as a tutor has also helped me retain concepts.
  7. Jun 13, 2016 #6
    If your school does not offer a geometry course, find a school near you that does. At one of the community colleges I attended and tutored at, there was no geometry course. I went to either school to take my math classes, depending on what school had the more rigorous teacher teaching the class I needed. Hence, I did not have problems in this area.Students simply passed an intermediate algebra course (functions, composite functions, sequences, logs, inverse functions, conics, etc). Then they moved onto trigonometry and pre-calculus. Needless to say, students at that school had problems with portions of mechanics and calculus, that required use of geometric facts to set up the problems. Many students could not follow some derivations, because they lacked the geometric background.
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