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Mathematics Study Guide for College

Mathematics Study Guide for College

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Published by Victor Megong Jaki
Adopted from various sources for the sake of Mathematics' students.
Adopted from various sources for the sake of Mathematics' students.

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Published by: Victor Megong Jaki on Aug 01, 2010
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10/25/2012

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Mathematics Study Guides
Active Study vs. Passive Study
 
Be
actively
involved in managing the learning process, the mathematics and your study time.
 
Take responsibility for studying, recognizing what you do and don't know, and knowing how to get yourInstructor to help you with what you don't know
 
Attend class every day and take complete notes. Instructors formulate test questions based on material andexamples covered in class as well as those in the text.
 
Be an active participant in the classroom. Get ahead in the book; try to work some of the problems beforethey are covered in class. Anticipate what the Instructor's next step will be.
 
Ask questions in class! There are usually other students wanting to know the answers to the same questionsyou have.
 
Go to office hours and ask questions. The Instructor will be pleased to see that you are interested, and youwill be actively helping yourself.
 
Good study habits throughout the semester make it easier to study for tests.
Studying Math is Different from Studying Other Subjects
 
 
Math is learned by
doing
problems. Do the homework. The problems help you learn the formulas andtechniques you do need to know, as well as improve your problem-solving prowess.
 
A word of warning: Each class builds on the previous ones, all semester long. You must keep up with theInstructor: attend class, read the text and do homework every day. Falling a day behind puts you at adisadvantage. Falling a week behind puts you in deep trouble.
 
A word of encouragement: Each class builds on the previous ones, all semester long. You're alwaysreviewing previous material as you do new material. Many of the ideas hang together. Identifying andlearning the key concepts means you don't have to memorize as much.
College Math is Different from High School Math
 
A College math class meets less often and covers material at about twice the pace that a High School course does.You are expected to absorb new material much more quickly. Tests are probably spaced farther apart and so covermore material than before. The Instructor may not even check your homework.
 
Take responsibility for keeping up with the homework. Make sure
you
find out how to do it.
 
You probably need to spend
more
time studying per week - you do more of the learning
outside
of class thanin High School.
 
Tests may seem harder just because they cover more material
Study Time
 
You may know a rule of thumb about math (and other) classes: at least two hours of study time per class hour. Butthis may not be enough!
 
Take as much time as you need to do all the homework and to get complete understanding of the material.
 
Form a study group.
Meet once or twice a week (also use the phone). Go over problems you've had troublewith. Either someone else in the group will help you, or you will discover you're all stuck on the sameproblems. Then it's time to get help from your Instructor.
 
The more challenging the material, the more time you should spend on it.
 
Mathematics: Guidelines for Study
 
The University of AlabamaCenter for Teaching and Learning124 Osband348-5175As a first step to learning mathematics, it is important to realize that mathematics is easier to study in small doses.While this statement is true of almost any subject, it is particularly true of mathematics. Two hours a day is a lotmore productive than 10 hours one day a week. Although you may be able to read two novels in one weekend for aliterature course, it is almost impossible to catch up on two weeks of math in one weekend. The study of math iscumulative with concepts building on those previously learned. You also need "soak time", a chance to think aboutconcepts and ideas before another is presented.Second, mathematics is not a spectator sport; it is a do-it-yourself subject. You must work the problems for yourself and recognize that there is no easy road to success. The following guidelines, however, should be helpful to you instudying math. These techniques are related to previewing, note taking, text reading, problem solving, and problemanalysis.
1. Previewing
Previewing
 
is an important, but not a very time-consuming part of your study. Before class, glance over the textmaterial that will be covered in the lecture. Get an overview of the material by reading the introductory andsummary passages, the section headings and subheadings, and the diagrams. Look at the problems at the end of thesection to get an overall idea of the point of the lecture. This preview should serve as a general base for anchoringthe new information presented in class.
2. Note Taking
 In class, listen actively while taking notes. Intend to learn from the lecture. Write down explanatory remarks aboutthe problem. Note any particular conditions of the problem, how to get from one step to another, and why theapproach to the problem is taken. Try to anticipate the consequences of a theorem or the next step in a solution.During a proof,
keep the conclusion in mind. If you miss or don’t understand something in the lecture, jot down what
you can and fill in the missing material later. As soon as possible after class, review and edit your notes. Use themargin or the back of the opposite page to summarize the materials and to list key terms or formulas. You can alsouse this space to take notes from the text, thus supplementing your lecture notes and creating an integrated studysource. Review your notes at regular intervals, particularly as soon as possible just before and just after each class.
3. Reading the Textbook
 When reading the math textbook, first scan the material to obtain an overview. Then read carefully, making sure thatyou understand each part as you go. Since much of math is concept building, reading past a concept that is notunderstood may prove to be wasted time and effort. As you read, take notes on new definitions and symbols. It isespecially important to translate abstract formulas into your own verbal explanations. Pay particularly closeattention to derivations and sample problems. You should analyze the sample problems in the text, explaining eachstep in your own words and drawing diagrams to accompany these explanations. For practice, close the book andrework the examples in your own terms. Finally, note how the material relates to previous material, and stopperiodically to recite the material to yourself.
4. Problem Solving
 Most of your study time should be spent working or studying problems. When working a problem, first read throughthe question to get a general overview. Second, state the unknown in your own terms and write down every piece of 
 
information that is given. Next, devise a tentative plan to solve the problem by using one or more of the followingtactics:a.
 
Form relationships among all facts given.b.
 
Consider formulas or definitions that might be relevant.c.
 
Work backwards, asking yourself, "What do I need to know in order to find the answer?"d.
 
Relate the problem to a similar textbook or lecture example.e.
 
Solve a simpler version of the problem using small numbers.f.
 
Break the problem into several simpler problems. Work part of the problem and see if it related to thewhole.g.
 
Check each step of the solution for correctness and clarity. Then, rewrite the solution from beginning to end,editing out blind alleys and false leads.
5. Problem Analysis
 After you have worked a problem, analyze it. Focus on the processes used (not the answer) and ask yourself thefollowing questions: What concepts, formulas, and rules did I apply? What methods did I use? How does the solutioncompare with those in my text and notes? Can I simplify what I did? Explain each step using your own words. In thisway you will sharpen your understanding of the problem and aid future study.The study tips suggested in this handout should help you to improve your performance in your math class. Butremember that math courses are cumulative; if you have trouble with the material at the beginning of the course, itis likely that these problems will multiply later on. Consequently, you should seek help early if you encounterdifficulty.

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