Self-Study Help

Vividly
I have a question. I’m reading the series of the practical man which include arithmetic, algebra,geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus. I’m having some trouble understanding these books and was thinking about reading the series of ____ for dummies such as Geometry for dummies as a supplement. Is this and efficient way of learning new material?

Mentor
Math is easier to learn in a linear fashion. First: addition, then subtraction, then multiplication(repeated additions), and then long division (multiple subtractions).

Stay the course until you know arithmetic cold. Then move on. Don't skip content. It will bite you later on.

You have to do this no matter what your source material is. Choice of how you learn things - like by examples - is yours to make.

Please be a bit more explicit- like an example - of why your current learning materials are not for you. Then we can really give you better help.

Homework Helper
Gold Member
2021 Award
I have a question. I’m reading the series of the practical man which include arithmetic, algebra,geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus. I’m having some trouble understanding these books and was thinking about reading the series of ____ for dummies such as Geometry for dummies as a supplement. Is this and efficient way of learning new material?
Definitely post one or two of the problems you have difficulty with in the homework section on here. And/or, one or two questions on conceptual understanding.

jim mcnamara
Vividly
Math is easier to learn in a linear fashion. First: addition, then subtraction, then multiplication(repeated additions), and then long division (multiple subtractions).

Stay the course until you know arithmetic cold. Then move on. Don't skip content. It will bite you later on.

You have to do this no matter what your source material is. Choice of how you learn things - like by examples - is yours to make.

Please be a bit more explicit- like an example - of why your current learning materials are not for you. Then we can really give you better help.
It takes me awhile to understand the material in that particular series of the practical man which Is why I am wondering if I should read another book instead of “wasting” time trying to understand something. I don’t want to be lazy though its just comprehending what's going on in the book takes awhile. Without struggle there's no progress is what I say to myself, however I am on a fixed time schedule to learn this material.

Mentor
That is a sufficiently vague, although reasonable answer. A fixed time schedule for learning has both good and some very bad aspects - if you had no idea what you were getting into. Unrealistic time schedules are deleterious to most projects, IMO.

If you are in the US, most states offer adult education short courses at junior colleges. If you have not gotten through high school then contact them about GED. Both are extremely low cost or free. In either case, this will help because you can work at your own pace AND discuss things you do not get with teaching staff. A win/win. And definitely a speed-up.

Alternatively seek out a tutor, there are also special schools that remediate students. This not a suggestion just a mention since I cannot think of some alternative: Sylvan schools. There will be some institution like this near you if you are in Canada or the US. Probably.

I have nothing to judge what is going on in reality. So I give up, because I could do more harm than good. I do not think changing books is going to help much. And it will also use up your time to switch.

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Posts #2,4,5, are the best so far. Time limits can be a bad thing, although you did not specify what is your situation.

Need h.s. diploma? Want GED tests passage? Ordinary Adult schools may give instruction up to Algebra 1 and Geometry, but you must give your best efforts, and there are a few "restrictions". Community colleges have more courses along the lines of what you seem to be mentioning, like Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, "pre-Calculus", Trigonometry, and up to three sequential semesters of Calculus. Those go in semester-length time periods. The instructional textbook would be different from the book you may have right now, as well as probably being much better. Still, even if you take option of courses from community college, your best efforts will still be necessary.

You CAN study those listed, in approximately the sequence listed on your own, but you would very likely be more secure instructively if you attend an actual school such as a local community college. Yes also you may find an "adult education" program at a community college.

Mentor
Is this and efficient way of learning new material?
This post by @fresh_42 in a different thread should be of help...

https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/how-to-study-mathematics/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/overcame-learning-challenges-faced-studying-stem/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/resources-high-school-math-home/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/problems-self-studying/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-basic-high-school-mathematics/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-calculus/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-analysis-part-intro-analysis/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-analysis-part-ii-intermediate-analysis/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-algebra-part-ii-abstract-algebra/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-algebra-linear-algebra/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-geometry-part-pure-geometry/

They may not all apply to what you will need at the moment, i.e. I don't know where exactly the lines between high school and college in the US are, but they can give you some impressions and hopefully hints on how to proceed. They're certainly worth to read them. In addition you can always make use of our homework section where you will get help to solve problems. Just make sure to use the (automatically inserted) template there, and show us where you got stuck (part 3 of the template), which is important to us for many reasons.

Here's a similar series for physics (22 parts)
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/early-physics-education-in-high-schools/#toggle-id-1

If you're looking for books, you can find the content you'll probably need e.g. here:
https://openstax.org/subjects

I think they also can be ordered in a printed version, but I'm not sure. The internet is full of possible sources, but OpenStax has at least a recommendable reputation. As far as I remember, there are also a lot of exercises in the books, which you should try to solve. At least a significant amount of them. If nothing else, it can help you to narrow down your demands and help find appropriate sources, e.g. by asking us in a more specific way than above, but this assessment could easily be due to my lack of knowledge about the American system.

Finally some hints on how to deal with certain situations:
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/things-can-go-wrong-complex-numbers/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/10-math-tips-save-time-avoid-mistakes/
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/make-units-work/

and an interesting interview with Karen E. Smith
http://www.ams.org/publications/journals/notices/201707/rnoti-p718.pdf

Vividly
That is a sufficiently vague, although reasonable answer. A fixed time schedule for learning has both good and some very bad aspects - if you had no idea what you were getting into. Unrealistic time schedules are deleterious to most projects, IMO.

If you are in the US, most states offer adult education short courses at junior colleges. If you have not gotten through high school then contact them about GED. Both are extremely low cost or free. In either case, this will help because you can work at your own pace AND discuss things you do not get with teaching staff. A win/win. And definitely a speed-up.

Alternatively seek out a tutor, there are also special schools that remediate students. This not a suggestion just a mention since I cannot think of some alternative: Sylvan schools. There will be some institution like this near you if you are in Canada or the US. Probably.

I have nothing to judge what is going on in reality. So I give up, because I could do more harm than good. I do not think changing books is going to help much. And it will also use up your time to switch.
In middle school and HS I really didn’t pay attention in math which is why I am going back and learning the material for college and future ventures in the field I am in (engineering physics). I have about 7 months to learn Geometry/Trigonometry and Calculus.

I started in January of this year (2021) and I have finished arithmetic and Algebra even though I understood about 70% of both those books without a teachers help. I am 27yr and I have taken Algebra and Trig and got a A and got a B in pre-cal and Calc 1. However I wasn’t prepared for Calc II so I took time off of school and went back to the basics and here I am.

I take Calc II in the spring of 2022. Thats when my schooling begins. With all this being said, I am looking for best study methods within this given time frame because I have at least 2.5 months to finish a book and understand it enough to move onto the next. I study for a hr a day before I go to work(I work two jobs) and I do this Mon-Fri.

I think this took away the vagueness of my last post. I am not sure if 2.5 months is enough to learn a subject thoroughly given that in school we get 4 months to learn a subject(16 weeks) unless its a summer course. Like I said, looking for a best method to go about doing this because I don’t know if I have time to get “stuck” in the book but I know that's when the learning begins. Honestly, just looking for a efficient way to learn this material.

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