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Signed up for calculus - too advanced for me

  1. May 14, 2013 #1


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    I signed up for an online introductory university calculus course and I think it is too advanced for me. I just started the introduction chapter and am having trouble with the algebra, trig review.
    Do you think I should drop the course? And if so, should I take the prerequisite course? I haven't worked with math in over 5 years. I wanted to start another undergrad degree...
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  3. May 15, 2013 #2


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    If you are having trouble with algebra and trig, then you will have much more trouble with intro. calculus.
    IMO, it would be better to understand the fundamentals of algebra and trig before jumping into calculus.
  4. May 15, 2013 #3


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    I second this. Calculus will use a lot of algebra and a fair amount of trig. So if you are struggling with algebra then you need to review it. So I recommend dropping the course and taking a less advanced course.

    Of course you can continue with calculus and self-study the needed algebra and trig. But this is quite difficult. I wouldn't recommend it.
  5. May 15, 2013 #4
    Really all calculus is is the advanced form of algebra, geometry, and a lot of other mathematical subjects. You should learn these basics which will make life way easier in calculus when you get there. I appreciate that you took a hard class that many people have trouble in.
  6. May 16, 2013 #5


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    would you drop calculus?
    I have about 3 hrs every night to study and 4-5 hours on weekends.
    Do you think I can cram algebra and trig for a month and be ok? I am willing to drop the course take pre calculus etc
    I just want to understand calculus and move forward
  7. May 17, 2013 #6


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    What you need to do is learn everything in the review chapters as soon as possible, from other sources if possible because a review will be too thrifty. See what you haven't learned yet and learn it ASAP. Each day a new topic, be it logarithms or whatever, you'll need everything that's there.

    I would aim to have that done in 3 weeks time at the most, with each day a new topic and a few review days, that should be doable. But this assumes that there isn't too much you don't know.

    Without algebra, you'll be dead in the water pretty soon. Try to sort that in 1 week, with 2 for trig. Or adjust this depending on your circumstances.

    I don't think you'll need a precalc book, they are very broad in scope and those review chapters will show you what you need to know. Focus on that and hopefully it'll work out fine.

    Best of luck.
  8. May 17, 2013 #7


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    I don't know the OP's capabilities, but that schedule might be way too ambitious, with one week for algebra and two weeks for trig.
  9. May 17, 2013 #8


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    True, I was hoping it was all seen before but not retained. But I think logarithms for example are more or less an extension of exponents which almost anyone surely knows who enrolls for calculus, so they should, via the correct learning materials, not take long to learn. But surely other topics like inequalities would be much more difficult to learn quickly, many pitfalls there surely are. Oh well.
  10. May 17, 2013 #9


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    Here are two useful looking problem-oriented review books, too concise to gain much insight from but they look very complete, containing a wealth of material at the right level, and problems have answers provided. And it gets you to the meat of what you need to know, you can find the type of problem and read how to solve it.

    Probably a good way to use them would be to read the topic introduction, study the examples, do a few problems, then read more about that topic elsewhere, then return to hone your technique.

    Let's Review Integrated Algebra
    Let's Review Algebra 2/Trigonometry
  11. May 17, 2013 #10
    If you think calculus is hard, try taking abstract algebra :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:
  12. May 17, 2013 #11


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    The basic concepts introduced in calculus are the derivative, and the integral. These concepts aren't too difficult to learn, but in a calculus class, much of the homework and tests involves a lot of algebra and trig. It's possible that you may get up to speed during this class. It might help to get ahead on homework assignments or doing problems from your textbook to give yourself somewhat of a cushion.
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