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Some suggestions on learning algebra/trigonometry material

  1. Nov 13, 2012 #1
    Hello guys. Since this is my first post and I can't post in Pre-calculus Learning Material, I shall post it here.Now, to the topic.

    I am passionate about learning maths, however, because I live in Australia and go to public school, the level of maths that they teach is miserable (Year 9 Extension program,they're only learning to solve quadratics). I am on the top of my class, but they won't allow me to skip straight to Methods (pre-calculus/calculus). So I've decided to self-teach myself. I wanted to give myself some good grounding in Algebra, so I acquired "College Algebra" by John W. Coburn (at very low price). If any of you have had this book, how would you rate it?

    Also, I am planning to work through it on summer holidays. Would you recommend any other books for Algebra? Once I finish the book, i am planning on getting something to teach my-self Trigonometry? I prefer using books to on-line resources.

    I know Trig to a point, but i still feel like I could get better grounding in it than I did in my school.

    And lastly, is it a good idea to do that? I feel like that if I get a pre-calculus book, I will be able to learn from it, but later it will come and bite me for no being proficient enough in trigonometry and algebra alone.

    Again, sorry if this post is in the wrong section. Ask anything that may interest you (I am from Australia, so excuse me for not knowing the equivalents of Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 etc.) Thank you :)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2012 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    By "that", do you mean study algebra instead of a book on pre-calculus or trig?

    I think you must clarify your goals. If the purpose of your study is to qualify for skipping over some future courses, you should pick books that actually cover the material you are going to skip. Not being from Australia, I can't visualize what courses you might skip and what that material would be.

    If you aren't happy with the level of math taught in your courses and you are not going to qualify to skip them, then you should consider whether learning the material in advance is going to make you even more unhappy with the courses - or perhaps overconfident about your knowledge.

    If you want to study just for he sake of curiousity, you might be better off studying something unrelated to your future math courses, or something that those courses don't cover thoroughly. There are lots of things (such as physics and computer programming) that use math but aren't covered well in pure math courses.
  4. Nov 13, 2012 #3
    Thank you for your response, Stephen. I realised that my thread was a bit unclear and with all the Australia stuff in our schools, most people wouldn't know about the education system, VCE etc. I will post a better response once i return from school, maybe explaining a bit better on my intentions.
  5. Nov 14, 2012 #4
    Well, exactly. Would it be a must to be proficient with trigonometric identities and be efficient when dealing with algebra material in general (such as functions, logarithms and linear/non-linear systems), before attempting pre-calculus material or does it cover all required material?I am a bit afraid (as i stated in previous post) that I would miss anything vital from algebra/trig. if I would go straight to learning pre-calc. (even though I am certain that i have an ability to do so.)

    While my main intention is to cover most of the same material that they cover Year 11 Methods (Polynomial Differentiation, Matrices and Limits would probably be most difficult concepts there), I feel like i could get so much more, if I would go through algebra book solely, then go through Trigonometry solely, and then start on pre-calculus/calculus, rather then just going with the Methods book, which pretty much features bits and pieces of both.

    While i would say that my interest is driven by curiosity (and inability for school to have faster math course), I am interested in studying material that is given to us in later class (Year 11/12). Do you think that trying to teach myself maths could be bad?

    Again, sorry if my explanations seem quite unclear, English is not my first language (Russian, came to Australia 4 years ago)
  6. Nov 14, 2012 #5
    Trig is absolutely vital in mathematics. If you get the choice between studying trig or precalculus, I would choose trig hands down. If you want, you can even skip precalculus since it doesn't usually contain much interesting things.

    Get the book "Trigonometry" by Gelfand and work through that: https://www.amazon.com/Trigonometry-I-M-Gelfand/dp/0817639144

    Being proficient in algebra, trig and geometry is much more important than precalc.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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