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Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry

  1. Jun 24, 2013 #1

    I am currently taking a math class called college algebra. Here's the little description thing:

    MAC1105 - This course introduces the student to the concept of functions and their graphs. Students will graph linear, quadratic, rational, exponential, logarithmic, radical, power, and absolute value functions and transformations; perform operations on and compositions of functions; find the inverse of a function; apply the laws of logarithms to simplify expressions and solve equations; graph non-linear inequalities; solve related applications and modeling problems. Prerequisite: MAT1033 with a grade of"C" or better "or" satisfactory placement test scores.

    Okay, so I'm taking this now in the summer and I have to pick my classes for the Fall. My grade is currently a 97% and I don't struggle with the class at all. It's extremely easy for me. I have the option of taking pre-calculus and trigonometry separately (but in the same semester) like this:

    MAC1140 Pre-calculus - This course is primarily designed for students who are majoring in areas that require one or more courses in the calculus sequence. The student will analyze and graph algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, piecewise-equations, as well as systems of linear and nonlinear equations. The student will identify arithmetic and geometric sequences and series and solve related problems. The student will use the Binominal Theorem to expand polynomials and solve related problems. The student will use mathematical induction to prove statements regarding the properties of natural numbers. The student will solve applications and statements regarding the properties of natural numbers. The student will solve applications and modeling problems related to the above topics. Prerequisite: MAC 1105 with a grade of "C" or better or equivalent.

    Mac1114 Trigonometry -This course is primarily designed for students who expect to take physics and/or the courses in the calculus sequence. Students will learn and use the fundamental trigonometric identities and solve conditional trigonometric equations, perform operations on complex numbers in trigonometric form, work with vectors, and graph both polar and parametric equations. Prerequisite: MAC 1105 or MAC 1140 orMAD 2104 with a grade of "C" or better.

    Or I could take them together in one course like this:

    MAC 1147 Pre-Calculus Algebra and Trigonometry - This course includes all the topics covered in Pre-Calculus Algebra (MAC 1140) and in trigonometry (MAC 1114). See the course description for MAC 1140 and MAC 1114 for the MAC 1147 topics. The course is designed for students with a strong high school background in algebra and trigonometry, or for students who performed very well in college algebra. Prerequisite: MAC1105 with a grade of "C" or better or departmental permission.

    I don't have a strong high school background in algebra or trigonometry because I'd sleep all class. I do have an A in MAC1105 and I have an A in the class I took before that (intermediate algebra). I want to make sure that I learn what I need to learn for calculus. I have to take calculus 1, 2, and 3 in the future. At school, they are telling me to take the mixed class. It's 5 credits. The two separate ones are 3 credits each. I would like to take the two courses separately, because I don't want to miss out on some topics. Apparently taking them separately would be more work, though. I would really like to hear someone's opinion on this.. Preferably if they have taken these classes. Please.
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  3. Jun 24, 2013 #2


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    I definitely advise to do the combined. Your marks are good so you will manage it fine, you don't need a slower presentation. In fact, if there wasn't a combined course I would have recommended to do both courses simultaneously or even to skip Precalculus altogether, just because there is nothing in it that you can't pick up while learning calculus. So I recommend the combined course, assuming it takes one semester. Otherwise, each simultaneously so that in one semester you get it done.

    Oh right, you said you could take them concurrently or combined. I don't think there will be any difference except the price you pay, two could cost more. Understand that these are not difficult courses, and you seem now to have a good work ethic, it shouldn't be a problem.
  4. Jun 24, 2013 #3


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    This is a common option. The two courses have more lectures than the one on the same topics. The difference in 3+3 vs 5 units is slight at other schools it might be 3+3 vs 4 or 4+4 vs 5. Make a choice bases on how much you value lecture vs. individual study, how much you remember from high school, and if the times are convenient. I have not made this choice for myself but people I know tend to either take the one course and plan to study a bit more or they take the two courses because they want more lectures. The difference is small when taking the two courses at the same time. Some people like to take them different terms so they can have more time.
  5. Jun 24, 2013 #4


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    My estimation is that the combined course will do the same amount of trig and perhaps less precalculus, but the only really important thing you need to know listed above from the precalculus side is sequences and series. I wanted to just add that you need this, you can't skip precalculus unless you know this. I jumped the gun a little.
  6. Jun 24, 2013 #5
    Hmm... Everyone I know at my school avoids math like if it were a disease. If I take them separate, I'd pay around a hundred dollars more. I'm guessing that wouldn't be much of a problem.

    Yeah, I totally need to take them. I'm thinking of taking both separately. I need to take them in the same semester either way because I need to take calculus in January. I'm guessing I'll take them apart.. Ah.. Plus the fact that I could be better at one of them than the other.. I guess? Math isn't hard for me but everyone scares me into thinking that it is.
  7. Jun 27, 2013 #6


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    I find it curious that this school offers a separate College Algebra course. For some schools, Precalculus = College Algebra + Trigonometry + Analytic Geometry + some Discrete Math. In any event, since you got an A for MAC 1105 (and an A in Intermediate Algebra, which is Algebra 2 in high school), I think you would be fine just taking the single course version MAC 1147.
  8. Jun 30, 2013 #7


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    I find it kind of strange that you would take college algebra, and precalculus. Usually precalculus just goes over some of the main topics from a college algebra course, plus mixes in the basics of trig. College algebra courses typically cover everything that would go over in a precalc course, plus a lot more. My college algebra course covered quadratics, rational functions, radical functions, absolute value, logarithmic and exponential functions, conics, polynomial functions...graphs of all of the above, plus systems of equations, matrices and inequalities, as well as an introduction to sequences, series, the binomial theorem, and probability. Beyond that, I only had to take a separate trigonometry course before calculus.

    Usually precalc is just that...the basics that one needs to start calculus.

    Are you sure you even have to take the precalculus class? If you must, I'd recommend the mixed class. If you took a separate precalc class, it would likely be basically the exact same material from college algebra.
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