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Math Help - Study Techniques for Algebra?

  1. #1
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    Study Techniques for Algebra?

    Hi. I hope this post is in the appropriate forum. If not, move it and I'll find it. Thank you.

    Anyway, I just took my final for Math 52 (introductory algebra). Frankly, I don't know if I'm going to pass the class or not. If I wouldn't have put in the time, I'd accept it and be okay. But I studied and worked at it on an almost near daily basis. And not a glance or two every day, but I did every homework assignment and spent from 3 hours a day to as many as 8 hours trying to learn this stuff outside of class.

    Last semester my GPA was 3.5. I'm not unintelligent. But I don't seem to be able to learn and retain this stuff. It has to be the way that I'm studying.

    The only thing I failed to do in regard to studying was that I didn't learn the formulas except when absolutely necessary (perimeters, triangles, etc). The reason I didn't is because of sheer volume of work in such a short time span, it felt more like survival than learning. I think that taking the class over a full semester would have allowed me to have gotten the concepts down a lot better. And that's the thing maybe? Concepts?

    I think I'm going to end up with a D. I had a low B going into the final but I really think I chunked it. And even if I do get a C or better, the fact of the matter is that I don't see how in the world I'm going to do well in chemistry and intermediate algebra unless I figure out a way to learn this stuff with more efficiency and permenancy. If I do end up with a D it won't be indicative of the amount of work I did, it will indicate I'm going about learning this stuff in a very wrong headed way.

    Any suggestions for books or anything else that I can get a hold of and get to work on will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingersoll View Post
    Hi. I hope this post is in the appropriate forum. If not, move it and I'll find it. Thank you.

    Anyway, I just took my final for Math 52 (introductory algebra). Frankly, I don't know if I'm going to pass the class or not. If I wouldn't have put in the time, I'd accept it and be okay. But I studied and worked at it on an almost near daily basis. And not a glance or two every day, but I did every homework assignment and spent from 3 hours a day to as many as 8 hours trying to learn this stuff outside of class.

    Last semester my GPA was 3.5. I'm not unintelligent. But I don't seem to be able to learn and retain this stuff. It has to be the way that I'm studying.

    The only thing I failed to do in regard to studying was that I didn't learn the formulas except when absolutely necessary (perimeters, triangles, etc). The reason I didn't is because of sheer volume of work in such a short time span, it felt more like survival than learning. I think that taking the class over a full semester would have allowed me to have gotten the concepts down a lot better. And that's the thing maybe? Concepts?

    I think I'm going to end up with a D. I had a low B going into the final but I really think I chunked it. And even if I do get a C or better, the fact of the matter is that I don't see how in the world I'm going to do well in chemistry and intermediate algebra unless I figure out a way to learn this stuff with more efficiency and permenancy. If I do end up with a D it won't be indicative of the amount of work I did, it will indicate I'm going about learning this stuff in a very wrong headed way.

    Any suggestions for books or anything else that I can get a hold of and get to work on will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Have you tried Google searching? Does your school have a math workshop or free tutors?
    Last edited by wonderboy1953; July 29th 2010 at 12:16 PM. Reason: more info
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  3. #3
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    Of course. It seems that Winning at Math... by Paul Nolting is a popular book for this kind of thing. But if there are other industry favorites I'd appreciate any suggestions.

    In regards to math workshops and tutoring, I'm afraid my school doesn't provide the best help in the world. For one appointment the tutor didn't show up and for the other appointment, the guy only had about 20 minutes. I'm also a working parent so the fact is that I need to do most of my learning on my own and at home.
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  4. #4
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    What aspects do you seem to be having trouble with? Is it a confidence issue? I'd like to try and offer some help, but I need you to narrow the problem a bit .
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  5. #5
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    I don't think it's confidence. I can learn it and when I do the homework I understand most of it most of the time and can get through it feeling confident that I know it. But the retention of the material is something else entirely. It could be that doing a 4 unit course in 6 weeks didn't allow me to really absorb the material. We were instructed on one section in 50 minutes, sometimes less than 50 minutes, and then it was on to the next section in the next hour and another after that. Repeat for four days a week.

    I think that reviewing the material is helpful but there simply wasn't time to review. Especially when I'd get stuck on a section that gave me a lot of trouble. I would literally spend hours at home trying to figure it out and still not get it. This is what leads me to believe that I'm not employing effective math study technique.

    In Argument and Debate I got an A; Developmental Psychology, an A: Sociology, A: Pre-Algebra, B. I spent a lot of time and worked hard to get those grades but I still didn't put in the time with those classes like I did with this Intro Algebra course.

    Learning Algebra is absolutely essential for me to get to where I want to go. I like learning and I don't hate the subject. I just really need to diagnose what's causing my inability to learn this stuff.

    Again, thanks for any advice. I need help.
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  6. #6
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    Why not post in the questions you get stuck with?
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  7. #7
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    Believe me, I do and I love this site for it. But I always do my level best to figure them out for myself. I think that really making yourself think and work something out for yourself pays bigger dividends in both the short and long run. I've always believed that. But it ain't working out for me with algebra and it has to be because I'm not studying the material correctly.

    Does memorizing the formulas work? I've heard so many people say "Once you understand the concept, it becomes pretty easy". But what exactly does that mean? I understand concepts relatively easily in every other subject; for me it's just a matter of doing the work necessary to excel. But in algebra I have been so dedicated. I have put in the time. So I'm really, really, really missing something. There's a part of me that wonders if I'm just not capable and that scares me. But I like to think that's not the case. Anything else I've ever applied myself to I've at least been able to do well enough to get the job done or pass the class or what-have-you.

    I need to find the solution to this problem. It has real-life implications.
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