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Math Review: Self vs Classroom

  1. Dec 8, 2009 #1
    I am resuming my education after a two year break (due to a career change). I am a little confused as to how to handle my current situation regarding math. When I left school two years ago, I was ready for calculus having completed college algebra and trigonometry. Since then, my algebra skills have taken a hit and I do not believe they are where they need to be for calculus.

    My question is, what is the best way to sharpen these skills? I am torn between using my old college algebra textbook (I still have it with the student solutions manal) for self study or to just take the college algebra class over again (5 credit hours - quarter class).

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2009 #2


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    There are probably too many variables here for anybody to give a helpful answer. What exactly does your "college algebra" class entail, do you have any talent at mathematics, how difficult is the calculus class you are going to take, etc?

    I am tempted to say this:
    The college algebra course is silly. Just take calculus and, if necessary, review topics as they come up.

    But that may not be appropriate advice for your situation.
  4. Dec 9, 2009 #3
    I'm in the exact same situation. (2 years off, now attending college, going into University Phyiscs next september)

    I found Pauls Online Math Notes very helpful; http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu/" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Dec 9, 2009 #4
    I would probably recommend not wasting your time with the college algebra class. The teacher will probably be horrible, the class boring, and it will take a lot of time that won't be useful. Just teach yourself using your old book or maybe a Schaum's outline.

    Another option is to read the books https://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Isra...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260422227&sr=1-1" by Israel Gelfand. They are short and sweet, but will get the job done. Make sure you are comfortable with functions as well. See if your local library has these books or request them through interlibrary loan.

    Another tool that is indispensable in calculus is sketching graphs of functions. Many students I've seen this semester have no idea how to even graph a line!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Dec 10, 2009 #5
    You could take UC Berkeley's http://math.berkeley.edu/courses_placement.html [Broken], which might help you to decide whether you're ready for calculus.


    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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