why am i taking precalc???

Hi all,
Having survived my inital nausea after going through chapter 1 of my 'precalc' book the following question jumps up at me:
I am wondering IF perhaps I would be better served to just take Calc. I and get it over with. I dont want to be stuck yet again with a class that I don't need for prereqs. I understand that many schools require no calc. and I would love to avoid it completely. But ruling on the side of one day probably needing calc would I be better to drop precalc now and switch to calculus?
(reveiw of lots of posts at SDN lean on the side of precalc being more of a nightmare that calculus)
thanks. lizzie

Hi lizzie - I guess it kind of depends on how good your algebra/trig skills are already. If your school does a math placement exam I’d take it and see where it places you. Which you will need more in the long run also kind of depends on which physics you plan on taking. If it’s an algrbra/trig based course precalc would be a good review for that. If your alg/trig skills are in good shape and you’re planning on taking calc based physics you would probably be fine skipping straight into calc 1. While calculus is generally less of a pain than precalc you need a really good base of alg/trig to get thru it. Otherwise you’ll make a lot of really dumb mistakes in calc. (unless you end up with a prof who only cares if you can derive/integrate stuff and not care about “finishing” problems by doing the algebra side of it). I know for me the algebra/trig (or precalc) classes were absolutely essential since it had been a long time since I had taken any math.
Good luck!
–Jessica, UCCS

I agree with Jessica. Solid algebra and trig skills are essential in calculus so that you can focus on the calculus part of the class rather than struggling through “crunching” the equations and numbers.
Good luck!

thanks jess and tec…appreciate being able to sort things out.
i had a ‘algebra’ class last semester that as i’ve said before never had a professor who could get the class off the ground and in fact now that i think of it never even handed out a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. (this made me nuts). So, i learned the poly,bi nominal stuff and i recall we got as far as slope of the line. That was all. Thankfully it was a pass/fail . When i opened the precalc. book it was overwhelmed when i saw the pic of the this giant TI-83 graphing calculator, (i make my kids do math on paper) and then trying to apply what i was reading sent me into a state of wonder.
I guess as you’ve pointed out their is not an easy answer. I think it always “nice” to start this journey feeling like you will do well in your class not with a big HOLY TOMOLE>
thanks all.

if you need to take calculus (e.g. for a degree requirement) - then I think you should follow the recommended cycle of classes leading up to calc I - especially if your math skills are not that strong. that said - for my Calc I class, pre-calc II was a prereq. Just to be safe, I took precalc I first, to refresh my memory on algebra and lines and all before I took pre-calc II. This turned out to be a good thing in my case.
if you are not going to have to take Calculus - then you can either take pre-calc or trig - before you hit non-calc physics.
FYI = we were not allowed to use graphing calculators in any of my math classes - and we never got the problems from the book where graphing calculators were used.

Calculus, while annoying as it is, is necessary to understand certain models that you will be learning later. Especially ones that have to do with population and statistics. While these things may not interest you now, it is possible that once you start your medical career you would want to be part of the faculty of a teaching hospital. In order to maintain credentials, I believe you have to publish a certain number of articles.
Population biology is very important in medicine and those graphs are usually done with derivatives and determining the areas under these graphs.
Why don't you sit in on a calculus course and see if you really need to take pre-calc. You may be surprised. Sometimes taking an extra class that turns out to be a good review is better than forgetting about it and then realizing you needed it halfway through the semester.
Just my $.02

Lisa, i am hoping that we don't have to use a calculator. however, the text comes with an attached 'graphing calculator manual'. although i have a sense of fear i have decided i will attend at least the first lecture and if it feels like too much perhaps 'audit' it. i was hopeful that i could do some self study and hopefully once i attend i will have a better feeling. i am not planning on taking calc based physics. however, some of the schools want some 'college math' and if i do a second degree (say in bio) i need a year of calc. anyway. as well as prereq to calc (as note by lisa) i need precalc. will keep you all posted come tomorrow.
thanks to all again.
this is actually a good reference thread and was sort of just what i was looking for.

Good luck with whichever course you decide to take. I agree with the previous posters. If your math skills are strong, you may be able to skip a level (i.e. skip PreCalc and go straight to Calc). Also, I think if you’re taking calc-based physics, then I guess you should have take Calc first! (I will definately be taking the easiest physics class I can possibly take–which will be algebra/trig-based physics from what I’ve read! But, I’ll worry about that later.)
I’m taking PreCalc first b/c I suck at math. Most people in my PreCalc class plan on skipping PreCalc II next semester and going straight into Calc. I’m still going to take PreCalc II, which encompasses the Trig. (I flunked Trig in high school s sad.gif o I need to take this class. Of course, I had senioritis then…but still).
P.S. I HATE the graphing calculators. They are so damn complicated! Using a computer is easier than a graphing calculator.

Lizzie- Given that your algebra class wasn’t exactly the best definitely stick with precalc. It does move pretty fast tho so you may want to think about picking up one of the various “do well in math” computer programs. When I was struggling to get into college algebra a couple summers ago (it had been a good 3 years since I had done any math and was being placed into beginning algebra by our school’s placement test) I went and picked one up, Mathadvantage (I don’t think this one exists anymore but there’s several others on the market now), and reviewed stuff with that and was able to get into the college algebra class I wanted when I retook the test a month or so later. If you use one of those you should be able to get up to the “speed” of precalc pretty quickly.
Good luck!
–Jessica, UCCS

I think you need the concepts from both terms of pre-calc for calculus. Pre-calc I does a lot with lines and slopes and predicting graphs from equations – those are skills you have to practice and are expected to know for calculus - e.g. find the area bounded by of y = x^2 -3 and y=-3x+3
Pre-calc II deals with trig and analytical geometry and you’ll find that you have to know the trig functions, trig identities, basic values from unit circle, etc. for calculus.
If you haven’t seen these for awhile, you might be able to understand the calculus concepts just fine but find yourself struggling for time on the homework and exams - where these are the whole problem in pre-calc, they are just a part of the problem you need to solve in calculus.
so, if you find you have to take calculus for a degree requirement - give yourself every preparation to do well in it - even if it takes a year of precalc - more A’s for that BCMP if nothing else smile.gif

mental note…
recommend that we get a emoticon that looks like he is about to vomit.
…a year of precalc…i wish someone pulled me aside when i was in college the 1st time and said 'you might want to trade those electives in buddahism and floral arranging for a good math class'
thanks all…not much you can do except take in stride and look at each step as a building block to somewhere. besides…it only really amounts to 30 classes.

My TI-86 was a god-send in pre-calc and calc!! I got so comfortable with it that in pre-calc, especially on tests, to find roots, instead of hammering it out on paper, I just graphed it, it took a fraction of the time. Yes, we were allowed to use calcs on tests, actually we were expected to.
In calc, I used it for areas under the curve, it just shaded in the part I was looking for.
Know your algebra like the alphabet and have a good handle on trig.

I used a TI-82 and an 85 in my calc classes. Yep, there’s a plural there…I had 4 calculus classes and differential equations for my BS. I was insane and thought (at the time) that an applied math degree would be fun. Fun??? Why didn’t somebody just shoot me then? This was also back when I thought that I would be happy working as a EE after another degree… I also had calculus based physics.
Now as I am doing my post-bacc work, the cool thing is that the math used in my algebra based physics class and in my general chem class make sooo much more sense now. rolleyes.gif I should hope. Sometimes I feel like I am swatting flies with a sledgehammer.
I recommend the pre-calc class. It’ll give you a good handle on the technicalities of number crunching so you can focus on more “fun” stuff in calculus later.

claycat…you must have been crazy as an undergrad…math??
skaterbabe…the good news>>the only recommendation for calc is one semester of precalc. glory!!
1st class last nite. i was shocked when we got a syllabus and our whole first class covered all that i learned in the last semester. for a brief moment when they did rise over run i felt like a genius. it made me laugh that it took my previous prof a whole semester to cover just 1 chapter of the precalc book. anyway…my prof. is a lovely woman and seems like she will be supportive and at least have a presence.
thanks for everything. will keep you updated.
on the upside…i am not the oldest in the class …nor am i the youngest. i was one of the only ones however that actually purchased my book prior to the first class (before the bookstore ran out) so my neurotic behavior has paid off.

Woohoo lizzie! Glad to hear the first class wasn’t as bad as you feared. You’ll be fine. One word of caution about calculators tho. If you’re taking precalc at a different school than you’ll take calc try and see if your future school has the same calculator policy. That was half of my problem with calculus. In college algebra/trig we relied heavily on TI-86’s. If I had taken calc at that school I probably would have had an easier time. However, I took calc at the university that I’m at now and we can’t use any graphing calculators at all so all of the “shortcuts” I had learned for roots, intercepts, max, min were thrown out the window. mad.gif I’ll now be retaking calc next summer at a school that counts homework for a lot more and only has one exam (the final) lol. Good luck lizzie!
–Jessica, UCCS

good point. i am planning on taking calc. at the same university with the hope of doing my formal post bac at HES. we'll see. i can't believe the cost of those things. i am searching ebay and 1/2.com trying to round up a deal. i am also realizing that i probably could list most of my possessions on ebay and someone would buy them…(warning to parents…if you have the fisher price 'pirate ship' do not throw it out. Sell it on ebay. we had the giagantic deluxe model which my son never played with so we gave it away…now he's decided (after reading treasure island) that he'd like another one. the bidding is pretty damn hot ). anyway, will tackle homework this am.
hope everyone is doing well at the start of this semester.

About pre-calc…very helpful.
I haven’t had any math since 1989 when I took one semester of calc after taking intermediate algebra, and then trig in the 2 prior semesters. I had the foundation due to the sequence of classes. Now I am back in school auditing the Calc 1 class for review with the intention of taking calc 2 in the spring. I am finding so far the “calculus” isn’t too bad, however the algebra and trig review is the bear. If I had it to do over again I would have taken as much math as I could have reasonably when I was an undergrad bio major. Unfortunately when I was undergrad my major only required one semester of calc, and I didn’t see any need to take additional math.
Do it now and do it in sequence…it is easier.

Lizz, dont skip pre-calc! Caculus is harder than pre-calc! The school I'm going to requires pre-calc for the O-chem series. Calculus is highly recommended for these classes. Get the TI-89 calculator and down load all of the formulas you need into it. Good Luck!

QUOTE (icegloves @ Sep 29 2003, 12:32 PM)
Get the TI-89 calculator and down load all of the formulas you need into it. Good Luck!

unless your school prevents the use of such aids on tests in which case using such electronic aids would be considered academic dishonesty (as was the case at my cc & university) and you would be subject to all the penalties there of.

Besides the whole honor issue for calculators…my take is to avoid “plugging-and-chugging” and really learning how the formulas work. This allows you to apply them in new and unique situations in other courses. Just when you think you will never use it again, it pops up.
I agree that if you aren’t comfortable with algebra and trig you should take pre-calc to refresh that material prior to calculus-- that way you can focus on just the calculus when you get there.
Just my 2 cents.