Preparing for College Calculus ?

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Okay, so I start Community College in late-August. I have hopes to transfer over to the University of Virginia after my first two years. My original plan was to major in Nursing, but I keep being drawn in by the field of Physics, which I see as a HUGE sign to at least reconsider my field of study.

So, I flunked out of Pre-Calculus last year for personal reasons (I fell behind due to doctor's appointments concerning my heart, and I don't do well when I start to struggle... I'm one of those people where if I fall behind, I tend to stay behind, but I'm working on it...).

For all intents and purposes, you should consider me fresh out of Algebra II.
What specific areas of mathematics should I study to prepare for Calculus I?
One good thing out of my failed Pre-Calculus venture: I still have my book "Precalculus with Limits", but I would love more online resources if you guys have any suggestions, too. I hate books, but I can keep my eyes glued on a computer and learn for hours. Regardless, I'll use the book if I need to.

TL;DR: What specific mathematics concepts do I ABSOLUTELY need/would be super helpful before jumping into Calculus I? If you have any amazing online resources for each specific subject/concept, please post it?
 

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  • #2
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I honestly think an algebra background is the most important thing for calculus at your level. Precalculus course material seems to vary quite a bit between high schools.

I think the most import topics from a Pre calc class would be:

Functions with e, log, and natrual log.

Recognition of conic sections and their equations.

Asymptotes and the idea of a tangent line.

Trigonometry.

Introduction to a verctor.

You can learn a little more about these topics here:
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/classroom/classes/Pre-Calculus.html


Maybe you can dive into calculus by yourself and see if you are ready.

There are awesome college level lectures on differential calculus here:
http://www.centerofmath.org/video.html# [Broken]
 
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  • #3
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There's a lot of material available when it comes to low-level stuff like that.

Try Khan Academy. Just google it. It has algebra and pre-calculus. Videos and exercises. The exercises are in the practice section of the website. It takes you through sort of a tree. I don't know exactly how it works, since I don't need it myself (I am actually teaching a calculus class right now).

For calculus, you need to be good at solving algebraic equations, what a logarithm is and the basic properties of logarithms, functions, how to compose functions, be able to graph a function, given a formula for it, find the equation of a line through a given point with a given slope. Usually trigonometry, like what sine, cosine, and tangent are. What it means to raise a number to a negative powers, fractional powers, rules of exponents. That's most of it.

I also find that some people end up in calculus who don't know how to handle more basic things, such as fractions. I think Khan Academy covers that stuff, too. For people who have a really hard time with math (or people who just don't know much math at all, like children), I would suggest trying to look into JUMP math, which has some stuff online, including, I believe some material on how to add fractions. From what I have heard, JUMP math seems to work even for most people who are severely mathematically challenged, although it only covers grades 1-8.
 

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