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Preparing for College Calculus ?

  1. Jul 6, 2012 #1
    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2012 #2
    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.


    Introduction to a verctor.

    You can learn a little more about these topics here:

    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]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jul 6, 2012 #3
    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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