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Schools University calculus course self study in five weeks

  1. Dec 2, 2011 #1
    I dropped out of college five years ago, before my studies really had begun. My original plan was to start again my engineering physics studies in January but my problem is that some of the courses available for spring are continuing on the fall studies.

    Now I got a bit surprising turn of events when I was kicked out of work due to productional reasons, so it came to my mind that why not try to study the fall part of calculus before the course part II continues. The problem is, that the test is in 16.1.2012, I work part-time in a new job for about 20 hours a week and – naturally – there are no lectures or demos available.

    So the course is planned to be 270 hours in work time, the material is a book written by our professor – or Adams's Calculus – I haven't done a single math problem since dropping out and the Christmas is coming.

    I really got nothing to lose so I'm giving it a shot anyway. I realize that my numbers are most likely compromised – if I even manage to pull through the course – but I'm wishing to hear, if you have some advices to give me according to study technique and is it realistic to get pass this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2011 #2
    Well, it depends on you whether you will pass this. Do you remember much math? Are you naturally comfortable with math?? Are you willing to work hard??

    It's not at all impossible to self study calculus, but you'll need to put in quite a lot of work. Also, to really understand the math, it's crucial to make a lot of exercises. Knowing what an integral is, is very different from being able to calculate one quickly.

    One hint I can give you: watch the videos on KhanAcademy. They're a great help.

    Finally: don't feel discouraged if you don't make it. It'll just mean that you need more time and practice, and that's nothing to feel bad from. Like you said: you have nothing to lose...
  4. Dec 2, 2011 #3
    This is my habit when approaching a new topic;

    1)Turn straight to the problems! Do not read through the text.
    2)See how many you can do intuitively.
    3)When you get stuck, go into the body of the text and extract any definitions relevant to the problem you're stuck on, and look at any worked examples. Start to compile a 'cheat sheet'. Continue to ignore the exposition.
    4)If you get really stuck, read some of the exposition, but only the portions directly relevant to the problem you want to solve.
    5)Repeat until you can solve all the problems.
    6)Now you can read the exposition (you've probably already read most of it, just not in the right order).

    The reason i like to do it this way is because it's as non-passive as possible. The exposition is really somebody elses intuitive take on things, which is obviously extremely useful since it's the intuitive take of more knowledgable people, but even so, it's still just a supplement to your own understanding.

    khanacademy is also just a supplement, the way i see it anyway. Good for revision or overview but i think it would be a mistake to use it as a main source.
  5. Dec 2, 2011 #4
    Wow... no offense, and maybe this works for you, but I think this is a terrible approach.

    Read the text, work the examples, work the problems, Understand.
  6. Dec 2, 2011 #5
    well...why is it terrible?

    I think it helps to develop intuitive understanding, because you have to use what you already understand to figure out the problem you're looking at.
  7. Dec 3, 2011 #6
    If I am reading this correectly and you are concerned with there not being any lectures to the course, on the web there are plenty of Calc lectures.

    See if you can get the syllabus and the problem sets early and determine what sections the course will cover then do a search for videos on those subjects.
  8. Dec 3, 2011 #7
    Interesting, I had a look at this site yesterday:
    http://www.rose-hulman.edu/mathFTC/home.html [Broken]

    I left school for two years before coming back as a physics major. I forgot most of high school math and physics and all that, so no doubt I'm struggling with almost all classes...... except calculus, I'm doing ok cause the basic rules are there.

    And you're out, five years...... Anyway if you remember things like those trigonometry rules, then you're already better than me.

    I think it's possible for one to finish the first part of a normal one-year calculus course in a short time though, or even the whole course. If you had taken calculus in high school.

    I'm in no position to give any advice, but MIT OCW is really helpful. However I think the OCW scholar thing lacks some applications of differentiation which you'll find in your book. But you can find those stuff on KhanAcademy.
    In an elementary calculus course, video lectures are, IMHO, mostly unnecessary unless you get stuck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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