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Need some guidance

  1. Mar 18, 2008 #1
    Hello everyone im in need of some guidance. I am currently in AP Calculus AB. We are assigned homework everynight which I go home and complete every problem and I have it ready to be checked by the instructor that next day.

    I study but I feel that my study habits are not as good as they could be. This is probably due to moving when I was in 3rd grade and 8th grade to two different states I bet I missed some important information that was taught differently and earlier is the other state. I have found this true because what I moved to my current location the classes specifically math were ahead of my previous location. So I bet I have missed some information and also I have never really had guidance on this kind of stuff.

    Anyways when my instructor gives us homework I complete it all and had it in on time and I feel that I have a firm understanding of the topic. When I think I need extra help I work on some problems I get off the internet of problems we havent worked in my book. Doing this gives me more practice and helps my understanding. Then come test day and I get nervous and worried. Not worried like "oh man I dont know what to do" its a more worried like I hope I get a good grade. But that never happens Most all of the time I get around 70's on my tests. Most errors are with stupid mistakes, etc. Then the kid sitting next to me that doesnt do his homework,study as much as me,and is bored to death with math gets a 90. This really makes me mad.

    Anyways im really dissapointed that my test grades are not good. I dont really know if its the atmosphere im in, my school, etc. I live in redneck capital of the world. Most of the kids in my school will barely graduate high school, have kids, are married, you name it. My school does not really care about helping students with little problems such as mine.

    My dad is an Electrical Engineer and I dont want to dissapoint him. I love learning about math and science. In fact I use the material that I have learned with my model rocketry I do. I plan on going into aerospace engineering. I just love anything with engineering. But when it comes to my exams I struggle.

    Please help me what am I doing wrong and what can I improve. I know this has been posted many time but I really want responses to my scenario. Thank you very much
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2008 #2
    I can't really give advice, but I just want to comment that homework every night in calc AB is pretty ridiculous. When I was in highschool, I worked 20-30 hours and went to CC on the side. I took 4-5 AP classes a year and it was only possible because they always assigned weekly homework.

    If your homework isn't translating over to tests, you probably aren't approaching your homework correctly. I find that it's extremely counterproductive to seek outside help routinely because the thought processes you must have to come up with answers, which nobody can really help, are what's really important. I can almost guarantee you have ineffective study methods too. Do you REALLY understand the material, or are you just staring at the examples in the book and figuring "eh I can probably figure that out on the test"? It's imperative for you to be honest with yourself when you're studying.

    On an unrelated note, please add paragraphs to your post.
  4. Mar 18, 2008 #3
    well you shouldn't be worried about disappointing your dad with your AP Calc grades as in the long run they do not matter much.
    Calc 1 involves a lot of algebra which in turn provides much room for mistakes.
    I don' know what to tell you as far as how to avoid that other than checking your answer.

    With derivatives it should all be fairly straight forward as far as memorize product rule and derivatives of trig functions. Then you just need to pick out certain trig identities that will simplify your answer (some thing I was never good at).

    I do not remember much from my AP Calc AB class so I can't tell you what to study most, though that being said I guess many theorems from Real Analysis were in my AP Calc class.

    AP classes can be tough but you shouldn't let them get you too worried, they are not the end of the world. Try you best on the AP Test, I found it pretty easy and felt it could have been far worse.
  5. Mar 18, 2008 #4
    Yeah this AP class as with many is very challenging. I am taking the AP test and my instructor has a whole packet for AP test study so hopefully that will help. This fall I will be entering college as an Aerospace Engineer major. I will surely be taking calculus 1 over not just to get a better understanding but to get used to my school teaching of mathematics.

    jhicks I do understand the material like I said I use the information I learn in calc with my rocketry. Also I mostly know what steps to take to find an answer. The majority of the time I solve the real world application problems i.e. velocity, rate of change, etc better because I can just visualize those question.

    Finally will getting not as good of a grade in my AP calculus class get me turned away from my school after sending in my final transcript? Since I plan of taking it over I would not think so.

    Thank you and sorry about the paragraphs.
  6. Mar 18, 2008 #5
    If your instructor cannot help you why not ask your dad? As an EE he should easily know how to do high school calculus.
  7. Mar 18, 2008 #6
    No a lower grade in AP Calc should not et you turned away. I would think a lower grade in AP Calc still looks better than a high grade in a regular math class but it depends on what is offered at your school. If it looks like you are challenging yourself by taking the AP class than that is a good thing.
    The one class will have little effect on your acceptance unless you are applying to the top schools and they have to compare you to 10,000 other applicants with similar credentials.
  8. Mar 18, 2008 #7
    If you are in your final year of high school, then most likely no. As long as you get all A's and B's (maybe even one C), you should be fine. AP Calculus was a difficult class for me too when I took it simply because it was all new to me. I got B's in Calculus...yet somehow, I managed to score a 5 on the Calculus BC exam. Passing the AP exam should be pretty easy because of their curve (I think more than 50% score higher than a 3 for BC). I recommend using study guides and spend more time studying it and less time stressing out about it. Stress can be a pretty big factor on tests. People tend to do well and concentrate very well if they're relaxed and confident.
  9. Mar 19, 2008 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    This sentence indicates (to me) that you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself. This can be good (motivation), but is can also be bad (burnout). This may be leading to test anxiety and a whole lot of other distractions.

    First, take a deep breath. Recognize that you are indeed on your way to acheiving your goal.

    Second, instead of trying to compete against other people- your redneck neighbor who scores a 90 on tests- compete against yourself. Try and understand why you are making "stupid mistakes" so you can stop.

    Third, recognize that you are living your life and responsible for the outcome- don't worry about dissapointing your dad, I'm sure he would rather you are happy instead of a burnt-out trainwreck. I've seen it happen- it's not where you want to end up.
  10. Mar 19, 2008 #9
    Yeah that is pressuring me a lot. I do feel that it is possibly leading to test anxiety. Also another cause is possibly my AP Engligh Lit Teacher telling my that there is much more to life than number, technology, etc and that I should see the outside world by taking the time to read books.

    We have just started a new topic. Logarithims, so I am starting to take all of the advice that you people have been giving me and applying it and hopefully this term will turn out to be my best. Please keep the advice coming. I bet there are other people that have outcomes that I have.
  11. Mar 20, 2008 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    Your English teacher is correct. That said, I didn't read any of the required-reading lists that the US schools are oh-so-fond of. Or read just enough to pass the tests.

    You obviously are capable of focus and drive. Keep it up, you'll go far.
  12. Mar 22, 2008 #11
    Ok Thanks Andy. I really appreciate the advice. About the English thing I just cant find the time and interest to sit down and read the stupid novels, plays, etc. In the long run I do just read a little bit and check out the spark noted occasionally to pass the tests. Its my writing that saves me.

    Thanks for the compliment about the focus and drive. Many people tell me that my focus and drive will get me far. I highly believe this also. Thanks for the advice and have a Happy Easter
  13. Mar 22, 2008 #12
    I have had this same problem throughout my math career. It mainly stems from having math classes too early in the day. You tend to get poor scores on tests if you're tired.

    Get a VERY good night's sleep. Hit the sack at 7:00. Wake up, buy yourself a good breakfast, and do a short 30 minute review before the test.

    Also, do not get caught up in the desire to 'complete' the homework. As you work, lean back and really think about the concepts. Try to conceptualize by redoing problems, or doing them in different ways. Rushing through homework can be efficient, but it teaches you very little.

    I've noticed that in classes where I really strive for the 'whole picture', like E&M, I thrive. In classes like vector calc, that I just try to get through, I do poorly.
  14. Mar 23, 2008 #13
    I used to have the same problem in Algebra II. Most kids wouldn't do the homework, and end up getting a higher grade than me on a test. Fortunately, there is a solution(s).

    Firstly, if your teacher gives you enough time on a test, take your time, go really slow. That is I have been doing for the past two years, and now, the students that did not do their homework actually make many mistakes, MANY simply because there are a lot of steps involved and they just try to finish it as fast as they can and hand it in. On the other hand, I go turtle pace, but I make sure everything is right. This method is gradually improving because I am learning to work decent pace and with 95% accuracy. I think this is the reason why I have the highest grade in the class?

    On the other hand, if your teacher DOESN'T give you much time at all on a test, then I simply recommend you go home and do the same number of questions in your textbook within the fixed time limit that the teacher gives you as well. It seems like a tedious task; but it is well worth it in the long run. Look where it has gotten me.

    About your past grades in Calculus, look at it from the positive perspective, would you rather do poorly on Calc AP or in College Calculus? I'm sure you were accepted at a college already and it can basically be said that , unless you bomb your Calc class, you won't be rejected. So let this Calc AP class prepare you for college.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2008
  15. Mar 23, 2008 #14
    Thanks razored. This is a problem of mine. When time is nearing the end I find myself scrambling to finish the test. With that said my instructor says that we have to complete the test in the time given which is an hour and a half. However I find that people dont finish their test on purpose so they can go home or wherever and figure out that answer and put it on the test. What makes me mad is that he does not put a stop to this. These are the people who get higher grades on the test also.

    I will start doing my homework problems in a time limit so that I can get my accuracy and speed up just like you said. I am going to college in the fall and I am taking calculus over again. Hopefully I will get a 5 on my AP test so that might make my performance in calculus better. We are doing practice test problems and I am doing good at them because they are mostly realworld scenarios.
  16. Mar 23, 2008 #15
    Your instructor lets people go home and figure out the answers to put on the test? How exactly does that work?
  17. Mar 23, 2008 #16
  18. Mar 23, 2008 #17
    No what I mean is on test day our instructor tells us that we should finish in our class period which is and hour and a half in length. But people dont finish on purpose so they can go home and figure out the problems. He doesnt allow us to, people just do that and I dont really think he cares. Sorry for the mix up
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