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If precalculus is the very same thing as taking college alg/trig together then

  1. Jul 10, 2011 #1
    why do you think this one school has such a weird math sequence

    Whats the difference between taking college algebra&trig in one course vs taking something called precalculus?
    At one school the math sequence requires taking college algebra and trig in one course together, (or separately if students wish) And then after that taking Calculus part 1, then part 2 , then 3.

    At another school, the math sequence is the very same except, right after trig they say to take PRECALCULUS, then, take the calculus classes.

    At the first school I mentioned above, they say that what would normally be called precalculus is the same thing as taking their college algebra with trig course.

    So a couple of questions, has anyone here ever taken precalc. How would a precalc course actually be different from just taking college alg./trig together or something like that, do you actually learn different stuff?

    Also it seems strange that the one school doesnt have a precalc course because they say that college alg. with trig = precalc, yet the other school requires that you take precalc after taking college alg. with trig. Very strange!
    What do you think this is all about?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2011 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's impossible to answer your question, except speculatively, without knowing the detailed curricula for the courses in question, at both schools. In the USA, colleges and universities don't use standard curricula that are handed down from high on stone tablets. The two schools probably simply divide up topics differently among their courses.
  4. Jul 10, 2011 #3
    Well, my precalc class consisted of limits, a bit of derivatives, all of college algebra, and about two or three weeks of trig. I missed a lot of trig in that class. Can't say I've really missed it though, and I'm about to start diff eq's.
  5. Jul 10, 2011 #4
    I guess having taken all three at different points in my life, I would say:

    For the most part, Pre-Calc is mostly college-algebra and trig all packed into one, with some introduction to limits.

    I personally like the idea of a full blown Trig class, simply because trig functions come up alot in calc, physics and engineering. So having a good foundation on trig identities and such is a good thing to have for most classes you are likely to take. I think this is the reason why a school may ask you to take a Pre-Calc class after taking a Trig class: sort of to reinforce the trig you learned.

    All in all, you'll probably be well prepared for Calc, regardless of whether you take Pre-Calc or College Algebra + Trig
  6. Jul 10, 2011 #5
    At my school, anyone not planning on going to calc 1(Math1910) takes gen-ed/college algebra(math1130)or Math for Liberal arts(M1010)...

    and pre-calc is divided into pre-calc 1/college algebra(M1710), and pre-calc 2/trig(M1720).

    It could be different at your school.
  7. Jul 11, 2011 #6
    I took pre-calculus, college algebra, and trigonometry as three separate courses. College algebra was just what you would expect. Functions, Graphing, Polynomial Division, Log, and so on.

    Pre-calculus for me consisted of a heavier emphasis on graphing and functions, followed by a very in depth coverage of conic sections and logs, a look back at some of the college algebra topics in a more formal setting, an intro to parametric/polar graphing, and finally the idea of the limit and basic geometry, and a brief survey of the ideas of calculus.

    Trigonometry was just straight trig. We covered the basic idea obviously, Laws of sine/cos and all that stuff, special angles, tons of word problems, simple and complex harmonics, graphing (including polar), and more identities than I can begin to explain (We went well past the usual double/half angle stopping point).

    I think each of these courses in this format worked to my benefit. I am miles ahead of the other students in my calculus courses from my understanding of trig alone (I attend a different university now that groups precalc and trig). I suspect the log heavy aspects of calc two will be the same way.
  8. Jul 11, 2011 #7
    I did my three semesters of calculus, and the only time I remember having a problem with a calc III problem involving trig was when I forgot the derivative of cos^2. I forgot it because I stupidly memorized them all in calc 1, and didn't know how they were derived. I didn't even think to just use the chain rule...

    Silly me. Other than that, I can't see how anyone can be 'light years ahead of others'. Maybe I'm just good at math.
  9. Jul 15, 2011 #8
    lol how interesting the way they divide it up , its sounds pretty good though
  10. Jul 15, 2011 #9
    that explains why they might do that then
  11. Jul 15, 2011 #10
    uh What do you mean by "I can't see how anyone can be 'light years ahead of others'. Maybe I'm just good at math." ?
  12. Jul 15, 2011 #11
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