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Should I take Calculus I, or Calculus I and II?


KC_Smallz
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Hi my name is Matthew, and I am a junior who will soon be faced with the choice of which classes to take during my senior year of high school. I love math and science and have taken up to trigonometry in math (achieved A-B range throughout my math career), and am currently taking Physics (never had below a 95% in any science class). My school offers a specialized set of classes for those who exceed/like math and science at a building known as the MPI (math and physics institute). Classes are held here during the first two hours of the school day. There are three sets of classes that you can take here, and you cannot mix and match classes (i.e. taking Calc I and II with normal physics). The class options are:

 

1.)Pre Calculus[1st hour] and algebra based physics(easy)[2nd hour]

2.)Calculus I[1st hour]and alebra based physics(hard)[2nd hour]

3.)Calculus I(first semester),Calculus II(second semester)[1st hour] and Calculus based physics[2nd hour].

although I love math and science, and have done well in my classes, math does not always come easily to me, and it usually takes extra work for me to understand mathematical concepts. But at the same time I am a very hard worker, and love to challenge myself. I'm just not sure if it would be worth it to take the third option because I'm not sure how well I would do. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

 

P.S. After going to MPI I would have a free hour. During this time I could receive help from one of the math teachers at my school. Also I plan to study Calculus over the summer and get a good feel for it before I take either of these courses.

 

I apologize if any of this was unclear, or I posted this in the wrong forum.

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I'm assuming you have to make the choice soon, and can't alter it later, else you could just wait and see how the self-study goes before deciding.

 

If so, then I would recommend the third option, for the extra calculus education and especially for the calculus-based physics course. Take what I say here with a grain of salt, as I've not taken algebra-based physics; but I think if you're truly interested in learning the material, and especially if you're planning to focus on a scientific field in college, then algebra-based physics will probably not be very satisfying.

 

As for the forum, the Science Education forum might be a better place, but if it's a problem, then one of the mods will move the thread as needed. No harm, no foul. :)

 

Best of luck to you, in any case.

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If you're already taking calc you might as well go with 3 as long as it interests you enough to put in the extra work. It's always better to decide to take what you're interested in, even if it means more work. On the other hand, if it's not interesting to you finding motivation will be pretty difficult. At least that's how it's always been for me.

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If you want to do some self study you can get an introduction to limits and the derivative by going to http://www.intmath.com You can also review functions there. The site is extremely helpful for step by step explanations, giving you a chance to work out problems yourself before seeing the answers. Believed he does this based on the Pearson Basic Technical Mathematics with Calculus 9th edition

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If you are actually comfortable with trigonometry already (usually a seriously neglected topic) then "algebra based physics" is probably a quit on your part.

 

But there is this: the human brain seems to need a certain amount of maturity or development before it can handle the concept of a limit. Check yourself - see if you can follow the technical, formal definition of a limit; see if the concept makes intuitive sense to you, if you can do simple algebra with limits without finding yourself baffled.

 

If you can't, don't sweat it - you will be able to later, in a year or so. But maybe don't kill yourself in a calculus course now - be wary.

 

If you can, you're good to go - anyone with the algebra skills to handle trig can handle basic calculus, and if your school is setting things up like most you want Calculus II to learn about integration, half the topic (and the part where, when you handle it, you feel like a certified smart person).

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