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What to expect in 8-week calculus course 1 summer

  1. Jun 10, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone;

    Starting in a week I will be attending a 8 week-4 days a week calculus I semester course.

    Here is a course description;
    MATH 265A - Calculus I
    Presents a study of analytic geometry, limits, continuity, the calculus of algebraic, trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic functions as well as applications of the derivative and integral. Topics will be taught geometrically, numerically, and algebraically. NOTE: The use of graphing technology is required in this course. Your instructor MAY require a graphing calculator such as a TI-84plus. Check with your instructor before purchasing a calculator. Prerequisite: MATH 242 and MATH 229 or equivalent with a grade of C or better Transfer: CSU; UC (For UC, maximum credit of one course between MATH 255 and 265A). (Formerly MATH65A)

    I will also be taking an online english course to complete my english requirement for transfer.

    I am curious what to expect and any tips for me? I am a mathematics major looking to go to grad school maybe for theoretical computer science ( Using math to keep many grad schools open)

    By the way, this is at a community college.
    Thank you for you time
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2014 #2
    Calc 1 was my first real college course! Things that will be new to you:

    Calculators will likely not be used, but if they are, you have to have it.

    Homework will likely not be graded, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is. Work every problem multiple times. Ask for help if something doesn't make sense.

    Grades will likely be on a curve. This means only the top ~20% will get an A.

    Finally, the information you learn in this course will follow you through your academic career! Some amazing information to be learned in there (even if it is out of context).
  4. Jun 10, 2014 #3
    I did just that as my first college course. If you're willing to study, and your algebra and trig is good, you should be fine. If you're even a little bit concerned about algebra or trig, go review it beforehand. Use Paul's math notes or a similar resource.

    As a side note, I think starting in the summer is good because it teaches you how to really knuckle down and focus, instead of getting distracted by the party scene and whatnot. (OK, off my soapbox now)
  5. Jun 10, 2014 #4
    I have already been in community college for a year now, and I have taken trig and pre calculus. I feel like I have a god handle on those topics. When you say these were your first courses in college do you mean over the summer or during the regular year? I should be able to devote a good amount of time to it this summer.
  6. Jun 11, 2014 #5
    For me, Calculus 1 was one of the most difficult mathematics transitions of my life. A whole slew of new topics I'd never had a class on suddenly appeared, and much harder than the pre-class studying for it I did online. Even with a few months of preparation (studying derivatives, limits, etc) it was very difficult to get a 4.0 in the class for me. My instructor was tough. :)

    Of course, then I took Linear Algebra. That transition, man... Much more abstract than Calculus. (Right now I'm trying to integrate the two :) )
  7. Jun 11, 2014 #6
    There seem to be two main categories of confundery (i just made that word up) in the first semester of calculus:

    1) Conceptually, calculus is a little strange for those who haven't seen it before. You're dealing with strange characters known as limits, infinity, and so forth. It takes a bit of hard thinking to get your head around this stuff, and that's hard to do in a short time. I took calculus I in the summer, and felt like I didn't understand any of it until I was done with the course. (I still did well.) I did it in six weeks.

    2) Algebraic Manipulation (i.e. pre-calculus) None of what I took in pre-calculus really *prepared* me for the type of algebra I ran into in calculus. Yes, I learned algebra and trig. It helped. But in calculus you really need to be able to do algebraic manipulation that you don't tend to see in pre-calc.


    * Rules of exponents, how they work with fractions and radicals. You'll be doing a lot of manipulating here. Knowing when things cancel and when they do not (Funny example. You'd be surprised that people do stuff like six+equals+six.gif . LOL)

    * Rules of logarithms.

    * Really knowing your trig identities in and out.

    * Understanding how functions work, how you can invert and compose them and such.

    I don't know how to categorize all the other stuff you should know. I just remember being amazed at what looked like mathematical wizardry happening up on the board. I remember the first time I saw something like ##2a\sqrt{b}## turn into ##\sqrt{4a^2b}##. I mean, it's "obvious" that they are the same, but I didn't have the imagination to re-write something like that on my own.

    Professors tend to skip a lot of algebraic steps when they are showing you how to do something on the board. Do NOT be afraid to ask how they got from one step to the next.

    I repeat: Do NOT be afraid to ask how they got from one step to the next! Other people are wondering the same thing.

    I'm not saying if you don't know this stuff you'll do badly. You'll just struggle a lot and learn it as you go. (Which is what I did). But be ready for that kind of thing.

    -Dave K
  8. Jun 13, 2014 #7
    Algebraic manipulation can cause people to fail. My teacher would make us break a complex derivative that was usually broken down into 8 to 12 parts using sub and would only give full credit if fully simplified.
  9. Jun 14, 2014 #8
    Don't worry Calc 1 is easy. if you get stuck go to khan academy the website/ youtube channel is very helpful. Everyone basically said what to expect already. I feel like Calc 2 is where it starts to "Get real".

    Hmm..... if your teacher allows you to use a Ti-89 then it'd be super easy xD.
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