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Which precal topics should I master before taking Calculus 2?

  1. Jan 4, 2013 #1
    I just finished taking Calculus 1 at a CC last semester. This coming semester, I will be taking Calculus 2, which will be my last semester of Calculus (woohoo!). I didn't take Precal seriously during junior year of high school (had an eating disorder that made me unable to concentrate and think). I also struggled in Calculus AB because of the weak foundation I had in precal. My high school class went a little further ahead of the standard calculus AB and we did integrals,volumes, and stuff like that for a bit.

    So which precal topics must I master in order to do well in Calculus 2? Do I need to learn hyerbolas, ellipses, conics,parabolas, etc? Do I need the law of sines, law of cosines? How about the double/half angle formulas? Graphs of trig functions? Will there be a lot of trig? phase shift? Polar equations? series and sequences? circles? Please list all the pre cal topics i need to do well in calc 2. thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2013 #2


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    These thing very a bit place to place can you get a syllabus? Mostly integration. Probably not much hyerbolas, ellipses, conics, parabolas, law of sines and law of cosines. Series and sequences are likely (though some places they are in calculus 3), but most classes start them from the beginning. Some classed do partial fraction decomposition, but usually do not assume it from precal. Some double/half angle formula stuff comes up in integrals. In general it is enough to be familiar with trigonometry. Precal tends to go beyond the minimum needed for calculus, which is nice.
  4. Jan 4, 2013 #3
    Calculus 2 is usually all about integration and sequence/series. It can be the hardest of the calculus sequence. Mainly because some of the integrals can be pretty tedious. You will want to be comfortable with calculus 1 topics more then pre-calculus topics.

    However, you might try looking over algebra regarding exponents, the trigonometric identities, unit circle, and simplification and fractions if you really want to limit yourself to pre-calculus material. You also might want to look ahead to polar coordinates.

    I found the book The Calculus Lifesaver by Adrian Banner to be rather helpful for both Calculus 1 and Calculus 2. If you are interested in supplemental material that is.
  5. Jan 4, 2013 #4


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    All of Intermediate Algebra, and basic Trigonometry. You would do well to review also some topics from College Algebra such as polynomial and rational functions, and decomposing rational expressions into partial fractions.
  6. Jan 12, 2013 #5
    How about product to sum and sum to product formulas?
  7. Jan 12, 2013 #6
    and sum and difference formulas? Someone mentioned that half and double angel formulas are going to be needed, but are the product to sum and the sum and difference formulas going to be needed?
  8. Jan 12, 2013 #7


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    Well, let's put it this way, if you know those formulas, then the integration when it comes to trig integration section will become a lot easier. People often struggle in calc II for the same reason they struggle in Calculus 1, and that's because of a poor mastery of assumed knowledge. You should be familiar with partial fractions and basic and fundamental trig identities. Depending on the course, polar coordinates, and the geometric series can prove to be useful.
  9. Apr 8, 2013 #8
    Thanks for the help. everyone. Fortunately, I have a really good calc 2 professor (probably the best in the world) that really understands and cares for his students. He only tests on things taught in calc 2, avoiding complicated factoring or the like from pre calc so that anyone with a weak foundation (to a reasonable extent) can succeed in the course.
  10. Dec 2, 2013 #9
    So.. I've decided to change my major to statistics, which means i'm going to take calculus 3, linear algebra, and proofs. Is there more precalc knowledge needed for calc 3 than for calc2. btw, got a C in calc 2 because i slacked off in series (so boring!), but until that point was pulling a B.
  11. Dec 2, 2013 #10
    i love finding volumes and work. i just love all things physics and/or applied i guess. lol
  12. Dec 2, 2013 #11
    Double angle formula is a must really, you just can't go without it, including the one for tangents. Power to sum, and product to sum identities are also handy. In short just arm yourself to teeth with all of those identities.

    If you are good at memorizing, try to remember a couple of basic integrals from the tables, especially the one that requires trigonometric substitution so that you know what to substitute in short amount of time.

    This is definitely not a pre-calculus topic but if you know complex number (exponential and polar form) well it could also save you a lot of time in doing complicated integrals, and even help you to form several other basic identities in case you need it in emergency.
  13. Dec 2, 2013 #12


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    I don't know if you've noticed this yet, but this calc 2 professor was not really good for you; in fact you were getting cheated of a good education. The same goes for the precalc teacher.

    You don't need knowledge, you need understanding. Until you figure that out you're just going to lurch from one crisis to another. In other words, you don't have an information problem to be solved, you have an attitude problem. If you figure out how to fix that, everything else will take care of itself.

    Harsh, I know, but you might want to think on it.
  14. Dec 2, 2013 #13
    Why have you decided to major in statistics if you are not doing well in your mathematics courses? I am just curious as to why the sudden change?
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