Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

WilL I do good in calculus?

  1. Dec 22, 2005 #1
    Ok, let me explain. When I was in middle school, we did geometry. I didn't do good because it was't at my levle (I iddn't evne know how to do 'essenial' everyday math)

    But then when I got into high school I took essenials. I didn't do good at first, but I decided I could do anything I put my mind to. So I told myself, "I will get an A, I can do this" and eventually, I did. Not only that, I was one of the top students in all the 6 periods!

    Afte rthat, I told Algebra IA. The next year, I took algebra IB. Unfortunately, I never got as far as factoring. I had an average GPA of about 3.2-3.4, for awhile my GPA was 3.8. Never went below 3.0. However, my comprehension is horrible, and I had a very difficult time doing homework. It took me much longer than the other students.

    At this point, I went to a charter school so I didn't have to do homework. We even had a halo 2 video game class! Heh. However, they did tell me it was accreddited, I.E the diploma is the same as a regular school Amazing, isn't it? Almost sounds too good to be true..

    We moved, and then I went to another charter school. E-instute, both were on computers. E-instiute was 4 hours a day, no homework .. However, I did have homework twice. I had to write a 21 page report on numismatics (Yikes) and a 12 page essay on numismatic art.

    Now I have my diploma. I have 2 questions:

    1) Even though my school is 'accreditted' and it is listed by the charter chool assosiasion as so, how can I be sure? Is ther eany instances where people went on to colleg eonly to be disqualified because of the school they went to in high school?
    2) Will I have a hard time in calculus? I haven't taken trig, pre calc, or caluclus. I have taken a good amount of geometry, algebra (However, not factoring, parabolas, or other high end algebra. I am good with exponets and solving algebriac equations)

    3) I am going to college to (hopefully) study physics. I will start from the basics, and go up from there.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2005 #2

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Fortuntely we can see you are in Arizona, so we know that you're talking about the US system (GPA was a clue).

    You might want to post this in the academic advice forum; it'll be moved there anyway, I' guess.

    The short answer is that it all depends upon which college you're thinking of going to. You can make the courses as hard or as easy as you like. Some State universities will have catch up material for you to study. You should ask the admissions people: ONLY THEY KNOW.

    (And it should be 'will I do well in calculus' not 'good': Mother Therese 'did good'; universities ought to care about standards of English, though I think they shrug their shoulders about it these days.)
  4. Dec 22, 2005 #3
    Typically, one needs to meet a number of prerequisites to enter a class. In the case of Calculus, one will need to have taken a course in trig, at the very least. In addition, a course in precalculus may or may not be required. It seems that you have taken neither. You seem to have come from a non-traditional academic background. Thus, rather than just hopping into trig, if I were you, I'd contact your college and ask them if they have a placement exam of some sort. At this point in time I doubt you would do well in Calculus. In a couple semesters? Maybe.
  5. Dec 22, 2005 #4


    User Avatar

    without any kind of trig, precalc or algebra, yes, you will absolutely have a hard time in calculus. Not only that, but I dont see how they would let you take the course.

    However, depending on the college, they might offer classes to bring you up to calc level, so you best bet is simply to ask them.
  6. Dec 22, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You're not prepared for calculus at all. You need to have a *solid* understanding of algebra and trig beforehand.

    - Warren
  7. Dec 22, 2005 #6
    I second what Warren has said. Knowing how to do exponents and solving for x is not enough to take calculus. Calculus is a rigorous course that can be taken only with a solid background in higher-level algebra and trig. Before you go to college you might want to consider taking a precalculus course or something to get you ready for calculus the first year you're in college.

    Besides, advanced physics classes require a good understanding of the language of mathematics, so not only do you need to take these math courses for your major, but you need them to understand the physical world.

    Have you considered taking a summer class?

    Actually, I think this is rather negative. If you plan to go to a 4-year standard college, homework will become your life. It appears you need to become adapted to doing homework every day. The fact that you didn't need to do HW in high school shows that your academic behavior needs refurbishing. Remember, it is possible to succeed in college, but you must be willing to DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
  8. Dec 22, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Well, in a sense QuantumTheory, you played Halo, didn't do any homework, but still got a diploma. Unfortunately, you failed to learn most of the material that most high-school students learn. It actually was, it seems, too good to be true.

    - Warren
  9. Dec 22, 2005 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    lets start with the basics: as andy dufresne said in shawshank redemption, "It's 'well', not 'good'; 'will I do well in calculus'".

    now go from there.
  10. Dec 22, 2005 #9
    You may not even have enough to get into a college algebra course. My guess is you will need to take a preparatory algebra class let alone a calculus. My advice is study on your own before hand grab a schaums outlines college algebra book or the precalculus book and just do problem after problem. Then when it comes time to start your class take the placement test and take the highest math you can.
  11. Dec 22, 2005 #10
    You are absolutely not prepared if you know only High School Algebra 1. Your college should offer math classes that will be at your level, and will prepare you for calculus. I would guess that you would have to take AT LEAST 3 math classes (College Algebra, Trig, Advanced Algebra (Pre-Calc), before getting into Calculus, probably more. You will most likely need to take a placement exam, ask your college administrators about this, and the classes you will need to take.
  12. Dec 22, 2005 #11

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I was really surprised that you posted concerns over the quality of your high-school education. I was upset that a student would even have to worry about such a thing. I am not familiar with charter schools, so I did a little digging. I looked at E-Institute in particular. I did not find very good reviews on the school, unfortunately. I looked up the school's "report card" measuring how it compared with the state on standardized tests. I am not well-versed in reading these scores, but from what I can tell it seems that none of the students who tested in 2003-2004 met the mathematics standard on the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test. Overall, the school was categorized as
    I don't imagine this would cause a problem with admission to college, but I can see how you would be concerned about how well your school prepared you for college-level work. You have to admit, four hours of instruction per day and no homework is pretty light compared to what most high-schools require.
    Fortunately, if you go to a good college, they will test you and make sure you enter classes at the appropriate level. The idea is that they want you to succeed, and to put you into a class that you are not prepared for would be doing you a disservice. I have no doubt that you can do well in calculus if you enter with the necessary skills, but you're going to have to get used to doing homework if you want to get there.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2005
  13. Dec 22, 2005 #12
    "Will I do good in Calculus?"

    If the choices are between calculus and grammar, I say calculus.

    -- Sorry, I couldn't resist. :wink:
  14. Dec 22, 2005 #13
    Sorry... but don't even TRY to take a Calculus course. You can't factor yet? Be sure you take an Algebra course before you move on to Pre-Calc.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2005
  15. Dec 23, 2005 #14
    All that you have to do is go to a community college and take College Algebra and then Trig and you should be ready. You might want to take "Intermediate" Algebra before you take college algebra. That is what I did. Before I attended a community college I could not even add fractions. I took Beginer and Intermediate Algebra, College Agebra, and Trig, and I am now in a University taking Calculus 2, and I made an A in Calculus 1. Also, while you are taking these classes at a community college you can take care of all of your general education classes. I did that too, and it sure is nice to only take science and math classes now.
  16. Dec 23, 2005 #15
    And you can take all of those classes in one year. Just take one of the classes during the summer.
  17. Dec 23, 2005 #16


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE HERE. They speak the truth. I know I'm being blunt but, with the math background your high school gave you you are NOT ready. Having taken calc based freshman physics recently I've seen people with bad math background come in saying they want to be string theorists, cosmologists, etc. and then fail freshman year physics because they don't understand calc I. If you take calc I concurrently with first year physics and you understand it you'll be fine, but you can't do that with what you know now.

    They are also right when they say that homework will become you life. You spent 4 hours in class in highschool. You will spend more than that on just homework in college.

    Prepare yourself and you'll be fine. Remember though that layman's physics books are not true to what physics is really like. They teach you th concepts but the real skill of a physicist is to take these concepts and express them mathematically to describe the physical world.

    Good luck to you. Prepare and you'll be fine.
  18. Dec 23, 2005 #17
    Are you sure that in math classes you understood what you did? From what you are saying, it seems as if you simply memorized how to do things, which would explain why it took you so long to do homework. Honestly, before you take Calculus, take PreCalculus. If you do horribly at the beginning of it, drop it and take "College Algebra" and then take precalc. Once you are able to get at least a solid B in precalculus, go on to calculus.
  19. Dec 23, 2005 #18
    Yes, I understood it. Of course. The point of math is being able to understand WHY you do it, not how. Why do you people always doubt me, on this forum? People here degrade me alot, doubt me, say I'm not smart for my age, etc. Im getting tired of it.
    For example, I understood why you have to balance an equation. So both sides are equal, or are 0. I havent done math in along time now (especially algebra) so I have forgotten alot. But yeah, I did understand it.
    NO, i have trouble with reading comprehension, that is why. And I am a slow worker. In fact, I got straight A's, and checked my homework at least twice. I was meticious.
  20. Dec 23, 2005 #19
    I think 1) You're exaggerating things. and 2) No, it isn't true.

    I didn't graduate from tha school. As I said, I went to a stricter charter school. This one was 4 hours, and there was no 'video games'. As I said, I DID 2 things of homework. a 21 page report on numismatics, and another report, as well as 3 art projects. But charter schoosl dont have homework, its just how it is. They said they were accredited, so I dont think ill have a hard time getting into a community college.

    To the other people: I understand. I have 'calculus for dummies' and even that is difficult (It is technically not 'pure', either). I do need a solid background in trig and algebra. I don't understand 'theta' in trig, either. It's confusing.
  21. Dec 23, 2005 #20
    It's not that people doubt you or try to degrade you, man. Remember, you asked our advice, and we gave it to you. We want to help and give you the best advice we can.

    From reading your comments, not only in from this thread, but from other posts in the past, I can tell that you are very enthusiastic about learning -- especially Calculus. That's a really good thing and you should use it as fuel to help you achieve your goals.

    I'd certainly recommend that you take a college algebra course. In fact, like a few other people mentioned, take only that class. Learn the material very well and then sign up for a Pre-Calc class.

    You have the passion -- now you need to do something about it. There will be A LOT of homework, but you can take an easy load for the first few semesters and get used to dealing with the work load. It's tough, but it's something that we all have learned to deal with. You will too.

    Good luck, QT.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook