So I’m running into a dilemma. Like many of you I’ve been out of school for a while. Though I was a math honor student while in high school I’m completely oblivious to it now. I looked at a simple algebra equation yesterday and couldn’t figure it out for the life of me without reviewing some basic rules.

What sucks is that this semester all I can really do is take algebra at this community college. I don’t want to take chemistry or physics without brushing up on my math. I want to take my sciences at a univesity. The nearest ones are: Clemson (calculus based sciences), USC (Algebra based sciences), Ga Tech (calculus based) or Ga State (Algebra based).

Strangely even though Ga State is algebra based they recommend you take pre-cal before you take chemistry, and chemistry is a pre-requisite to biology. Basically I don’t want to use up 2 semesters only being able to take one math class each (I can’t take pre-cal and algebra at the same time).

What did you guys do about the math thing. Did you take your algebra/calculus at the same time with chemistry/physics or did you get a strong hold on your math before you tackled them?

One final thing. Since Ga. Tech and Clemson are calculus based I don’t have to take algebra if I go there. I would start out at pre-cal, but I still think it’s beneficial to get my grasp of algebra again before I try the higher tiered schools.

# So many maths..

You should definitely get your algebra skills honed up before chemistry. Strong algebra skills are essential to doing well in gen chem. I’m not sure why they would require pre-calc for chemistry, though.

Absolutely don’t skimp on the math. It will make your life much easier in the pre-reqs if you can focus on understanding the concepts of the subject and not have to spend a ton of time understanding the math. Probably the single biggest reason people do poorly in the sciences (outside of lack of effort) is a poor foundation in the math skills required to solve the problems.

- d-gray Said:

What sucks is that this semester all I can really do is take algebra at this community college. I don't want to take chemistry or physics without brushing up on my math. I want to take my sciences at a univesity. The nearest ones are: Clemson (calculus based sciences), USC (Algebra based sciences), Ga Tech (calculus based) or Ga State (Algebra based).

Strangely even though Ga State is algebra based they recommend you take pre-cal before you take chemistry, and chemistry is a pre-requisite to biology. Basically I don't want to use up 2 semesters only being able to take one math class each (I can't take pre-cal and algebra at the same time).

What did you guys do about the math thing. Did you take your algebra/calculus at the same time with chemistry/physics or did you get a strong hold on your math before you tackled them?

One final thing. Since Ga. Tech and Clemson are calculus based I don't have to take algebra if I go there. I would start out at pre-cal, but I still think it's beneficial to get my grasp of algebra again before I try the higher tiered schools.

Well D-gray, my situation when I first started college doesn't exactly mimic yours, I certainly wasn't a math honor student, but when I took the assessment tests at community college I only tested out for math 101 which was basic algebra at that CC.

Unfortunately, if you're rusty on algebra your best bet probably is to start at basic algebra. I can't stress enough how important it becomes later to have a solid foundation in math both for calculus or statistics but also chemistry. I haven't taken physics yet, but given that it's a very math-intensive science, I'm sure it's also crucial to have that solid foundation for those courses as well.

Personally, I took the long road and took basic algebra, then intermediate algebra, then pre-calculus, then calculus 1 & 2. Looking back, sure I could have probably skipped intermediate algebra or maybe just studied it on my own and then went straight into pre-calc...but I think I would have shot myself in the foot by doing so.

Now as far as needing pre-calc before chemistry, that's confusing to me, since mainly what you use in general chemistry is dimensional analysis which is basically algebra and specifically "slash and burn" where you use fractions to cancel out units until you get the end measurement that you want. I never used anything really from pre-calc (outside algebra) in gen chem although YMMV.

One regret I never have about my experiences in college thus far is taking the time to get that solid math foundation. I'm pretty confident that'll also be something you never regret if you take your time to start where you're rusty and work your way up from there.

Thanks for your replies everyone, and I absolutely agree about getting my math skills up to par before I try to take chemistry and physics. Tim you say you could have possibly skipped basic algebra. My SAT score allowed me to skip the placement test so i could go ahead and register for College Algebra (Math 110), but tonight I’m going to look up some basic algebra problems and if it’s all foreign to me I may switch classes.

Thanks for your insight guys

Hey no problem, hope it helped. The main thing to know for later I think is how to manipulate stuff in algebra, like say if you have 2X - 5Y + 6C = 58 and you need to find out what X, Y or C is then how to isolate that variable and stuff like that, exponent rules, and plugging in 2 equations into each other to solve for unknown variables, or if say you have 50 mg/50 mL x 100 mL / 60 minutes then how to cancel out units to get an end result. Mainly the aforementioned is the algebra that you’ll at least use in chemistry…I can’t speak for physics.

http://www.mathhelpforum.com/math-help/ is an excellent resource too for any math class, or even a math problem in chemistry or physics…I used this web site all throughout calc 1 & 2 and it saved my bacon numerous times. The people there are extremely helpful, friendly and they do prod you and ask questions to your question to try to get it to “click” for you before showing you a walkthrough of how the problem is solved. Check it out when you have some free time if you want.

Thanks so much for the resource, I’m sure I’ll put it to some good use when classes start. Off to the books for some review

I was extremely annoyed that I had to take low level math classes. I didn’t sign up the first quarter and have now spent 2 more quarters catching up so that I could take my Chemistry class. I found out that I remembered next to nothing. It felt good if I remembered it and I was relieved when learning something new to know I wasn’t going to struggle with it later.

In Washington State you can challenge individual math classes. So, you can attempt to jump one class.

The bennies to those three extra quarters is that I am only taking 2 classes each quarter and I can really focus on my chemistry and higher level math classes. My electives are all finished. I just remember everyone’s advice, this is a marathon and not a race and a certain grade level must be achieved to reach the finish line. You can’t take the risk of not knowing the material.

I already started seeing a tutor for my upcoming Calc class this fall and wow was it a rude awakening when I realized how much of the basics I have forgotten already. Definitely a good idea to brush up on the math skills if you can!

I agree with those saying get your math strong. I somehow ended up in a loop hole having not gained the prerequisite C in algebra but still landed in my chem class because it wasn’t caught in the computers. I was retaking algebra at the same time I took chem 1. It was tough. I made it with an A, but not without a lot of blood sweat and tears. Chem II was after algebra so technically o.k. until they started talking trig terms and I had never had any exposure to trig at all. Again I found myself scrambeling to figure things out. They don’t even offer trig at my college as they expect it to be covered in algebra (I transferred in from a place that did them in seperate classes). So now I get to trudge through a trig book on my own trying to learn the material before physics. I think I’m going to do a pre calc class though to strengthen my math skills before physics though and save the calc for if I decide to actually apply to allopathic schools (only one on my wish list thus far).

Good luck with whatever you decide, but I’m a believer that the stronger your math is, the easier the sciences will be, so it will not be time wasted.

I did Calc I and II this summer and I could not believe how much math I had forgotten. The calc concept was a piece of cake, I really found myself struggling with the old algebra. I would have had a MUCH easier time, if I took the time to start back a level or too. I did fine, but I put myself through a ton of extra work and stress in the process.

Check out patrickJMT on you tube. He has AWESOME calc videos. All you have to do is search on the section and he has a video for it. You can also go directly to his site. http://JustMathTutoring.com

Paul’s online Math help is a godsend. http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu/links.aspx I used the site for Calc but he has resources for algebra as well.

Good-luck!!

GM

I also started in beginning Algebra after returning to school 10 years after h.s. I completed Calculus (I) last Spring…starting the chem this year. But, I hope the math will help. Btw, Patrick at Just Math Tutoring literally saved me…I honestly don’t think I would’ve passed Calculus without his videos! I ended up with a B (which I’m fine with), so do check him out.

I used to tutor math, chem and physics and Algebra was always the toughest to get across to students. My advice: practice problems, do them as many times as possible, carry around problems to do when you have a few moments to spare. You will use Algebra in all of your science classes. Calculus problems consist of 1 or 2 lines of Calculus then a page of Algebra! Even upper division math and physics was this way. Good Algebra skills will also help on the MCAT.

I allways get stuck on some math problem at least twice a week I find www.mathiverse.com/forum very useful for a lot of math references.