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Need to relearn HS-College Math

  1. Jul 14, 2011 #1
    Hi guys,

    Did a google search and this forum came up, so I thought I'd ask this question here.

    I'm in my late 20s and looking to change careers. Though I was never a math whiz I always enjoyed math and since job prospects look better in quantitative fields, I wanted to get a Masters in Statistics.

    I did some research, and most programs want at least a full college calculus series - up to multivariable calculus and linear algebra.

    I did take college calculus (but not multivariable calc). Good news is the program I am looking at has told me I can take these math classes at a community college.

    So basically I'd only need to take 2 classes- Multivariable calculus and linear algebra.

    So now here's my problem: It's been TEN years since I looked at a math problem. I recently picked up a HS Algebra text and realized I forgot a ton of that.

    I don't want to pay money to retake classes I've already taken, especially HS level classes.

    I'm hoping to basically self-study and recall everything from HS Algebra I to College Calculus. Geometry and Trigonometry as well. Is this feasible to do on a self-study basis, and what would be the best way to do it? I'm hoping it's like riding a bike and will come back to me as I start solving some problems...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2011 #2
    Solve problems. Ask for curriculum advice here (what specific topics to cover, that sort of thing). Use places like Khan Academy as a source of "lectures" to familiarize yourself with the material, then read the material in the book, then solve the problems.
  4. Jul 14, 2011 #3
    When I started at a CC last year, I first had to take a placement test to see how much I had forgotten since High school (I was 30yrs old). I only spent a couple days trying to refresh my memory with things like Youtube and Khan Academy, and I only placed into Intermediate Algebra, then I could go on to Pre-calc. Hindsight is 20/20, but I feel if I would have spent more time self-studying before I took the placement test, I could have easily been ready for Calculus I.

    My suggestion is take the time to refresh your math skills before you take any placement/ entrance test (assuming one is required).
  5. Jul 14, 2011 #4
    But on that note, don't be afraid if you NEED to take community college math classes first. I had to. I started out in intermediate algebra, and was in calculus within a year.
  6. Jul 14, 2011 #5
    Thanks. I don't think the CC here requires a placement test, just the transcript showing I took the prereq.

    That being said, I wish there was some kind of "placement" test I could take on my own just to see where my math is at right now.

    But I'm guessing I should probably just start over with HS Algebra and work my way up.
  7. Jul 14, 2011 #6
    Agreed, even if I would have placed higher, I might have struggled in a higher class, and at least this way, I have a good fresh foundation on which other math classes can build.
  8. Jul 14, 2011 #7
    Thanks. Ideally trying to avoid that path for no other reason than community college courses here are IMPACTED like crazy.

    I remember trying to take a calculus course at a CC back in HS and I couldn't get in because of the demand, and that was 12 years ago!

    I'm guessing that I will have less problems getting into say, vector calculus, than pre-calculus.
  9. Jul 14, 2011 #8
    jrjack, if you don't mind me asking, why did you go back to do math at age 30?
  10. Jul 14, 2011 #9
    My transcripts were too old, and at my school SAT/ACT scores were good for 5years and other than that, anyone over 21 had to take a placement test. It may be different at your school.
  11. Jul 14, 2011 #10
    I have been a mechanic (Senior Master Ford Technician) for 15 years and I feel like I have topped out; and our Field Service Engineer thinks I would be a good candidate for a position like his. He is just a liasion between the techs in the field and the engineers in Detroit and has a marketing degree. He said I needed a Bachlor's to be considered, and I figured why get just any degree; I like engineering, so I'm going for that. I am particularly interested in shock absorbers and advanced electronic control of these, and have been a ATV MX racer and mechanic so I would just like to keep learning (I also service suspension and play with valving).
  12. Jul 14, 2011 #11
    Ahh, got ya. Thanks for sharing your story.
  13. Jul 14, 2011 #12
    As far as getting up to speed with high school material, it was just like riding a bike in my case. I was six years removed from doing any maths (well, unless you consider an introductory and dumbed-down course in statistics for law students maths), and spent my time preparing to undertake a degree in physics by just going through stuff we've done in high school. It took me a month or so, I guess, and you do forget a lot of stuff. But mostly it's just getting into the hang of things, so I'd hold off from paying for courses you might not need. If you do find yourself having trouble, though, don't hesitate to do that.
  14. Jul 14, 2011 #13
    If you're set on self learning, there are lots of resources out there. Khan Academy receives a considerable amount of praise and recommendation around here. (Search it, it's all over the forum.) It covers everything from Pre-Algebra to Differential Equations and Linear Algebra.
  15. Jul 14, 2011 #14
    Hi :)
    I needed to take a placement exam after some years of not even looking at an equation and did self study for a month prior. I used the following free books through google books. I had success in recalling everything, but I did not find any books useful for studying trig as I want to, so I am thinking about taking it again. I was placed in calc I after my studies.

    A few of the answers to the problems are incorrect in these books, I think I saw about 4 incorrect altogether.

    Good luck with everything!


    He also has some pre-calc and geometry books.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  16. Jul 15, 2011 #15
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