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Math Help - All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

  1. #1
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    All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Hello folks, and thank you for this wonderful resource. I'm a 21 year old male who has a LOT on his plate. I'm in the military as an IT and working to become an officer. I have pins to get, qualifications to do, and more. The degree I want, the officer job I want, everything I want depends on mathematics.

    Growing up, I slid through school, I never did any math. I'm not exaggerating, I barely know arithmetic. I've been using Khan Academy to catch up, but sometimes it's just so damn aggravating I don't even know where to start or who to turn to.

    I have SAT's to do, and I need phenomenal scores on them. However, mathematics are absolutely ruining my SAT's. I WANT to be good at math, I WANT to learn it, I just seem to have trouble catching up.

    Where do I start? What foundations should I build? I literally need to go from arithmetic to Calculus in a year by their standards. I'm sorry for the length of this post but things are stacking up and getting stressful lately.
    Last edited by WeirdMath; December 2nd 2011 at 03:09 AM.
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  2. #2
    MHF Contributor Swlabr's Avatar
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by WeirdMath View Post
    Hello folks, and thank you for this wonderful resource. I'm a 21 year old male who has a LOT on his plate. I'm in the military as an IT and working to become an officer. I have pins to get, qualifications to do, and more. The degree I want, the officer job I want, everything I want depends on mathematics.

    Growing up, I slid through school, I never did any math. I'm not exaggerating, I barely no arithmetic. I've been using Khan Academy to catch up, but sometimes it's just so damn aggravating I don't even know where to start or who to turn to.

    I have SAT's to do, and I need phenomenal scores on them. However, mathematics are absolutely ruining my SAT's. I WANT to be good at math, I WANT to learn it, I just seem to have trouble catching up.

    Where do I start? What foundations should I build? I literally need to go from arithmetic to Calculus in a year by their standards. I'm sorry for the length of this post but things are stacking up and getting stressful lately.
    I think it would perhaps be useful for you to get a private tutor. They will help you work out where your problems are, and so help you improve faster. Asking questions on a forum like this is useful, yes, but only when you know what questions to ask...
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  3. #3
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Thanks, I've looked into that but I suppose I'll have to look more. I suppose I'm looking for guidance on where to start with subjects and progression of math skills in relation to the SAT's. I've taken plenty of practice tests so I've seen the subjects I don't understand, but I'm trying to establish a better link.
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  4. #4
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    You must change your thinking. Find this private tutor who will teach you a better philosophy concerning your mathmatics endeavors.
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Thanks folks, I've done just that. I contacted a few different private tutors and tutoring companies and I'll will try to get on track.
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    MHF Contributor alexmahone's Avatar
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by WeirdMath View Post
    I barely know arithmetic.

    I literally need to go from arithmetic to Calculus in a year.
    Not possible. Sorry.
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  7. #7
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by alexmahone View Post
    Not possible. Sorry.
    well, theoretically it is. from kindergarten to senior in high school is 12-13 years. but most people only take math classes for around 1 hour/day, and this typically for only 75%-80% of the year.

    so if one were to study mathematics 10-12 hours/day, 7 days a week, for 12 months, it is conceivable that one could cover all that ground in one year.

    in point of fact, it is my understanding that the SATs do not test on calculus, which easily shaves 1-2 years of required knowledge. also, even with remedial math skills, the thread-starter probably knows math at at least a 3rd-grade level, probably higher.

    so, realistically, we are only talking about 6-7 years of course-work, which boils down to 6-7 hours per day (if learned at the same speed most people do the first time around). if one takes into account the time wasted in review and reiteration of stuff previously learned, that takes it down to maybe 4-5 hours per day. it's a lot of work, but it IS feasible.

    but a good tutor is undeniably necessary. someone who can "target" where you are weak, and "fill in the gaps" of your understanding. and here's the weird part: you will have periods where nothing will make any sense, and it will get frustrating, but if you keep trying, eventually things will "click" and you'll make great strides until you hit the next roadblock. this is normal.
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Thanks for the responses.

    Deveno, I was trying to exercise some similar logic. Here's the thing, once I finish my warfare pin, I will be dedicating all my time to math. At this point, I know I will not be able to learn up and through calculus in a years' time, due to external constraints. But I truly feel with that I can accomplish up through trigonometry by September.

    As of right now, my math skills include everything pre-algebra, and some basic algebra concepts. I've been using Khan Academy and Purplemath.com to catch up.
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    the ten commandments of algebra:

    1. thou shalt not distinguish between the sum of the first two and the third, and the sum of the first upon the sum of the latter two.
    2. first and second, or second and first, all shall be added equally.
    3. thou shalt not add anything when adding nothing, either at first, or last.
    4. if thou addest the opposite of the first to the first, or then take the first and add its opposite, thou shalt cancel all, verily, leaving nothing.
    5. as it is unto addition, lo shall it be unto multiplication, and distinguish not accordingly the three-fold products.
    6. nor shalt thou reckon differently the order of the factors, and equal to each other the products shall be.
    7. thou shalt take the product of unity and one thing, or one thing and unity, to be the thing itself.
    8. if a thing be not nothing, then dividing a thing unto itself shall yield unity.
    9. thou shalt distribute the mutliplication evenly over a sum, by a sum of products.
    10. remember the algebra, and keep it holy.

    or, in more familiar terms:

    (a+b)+c = a+(b+c)
    a+b = b+a
    a+0 = 0+a = a
    a+ (-a) = -a + a = 0
    (ab)c = a(bc)
    ab = ba
    a1 = 1a = a
    a(1/a) = (1/a)a = 1, if a ≠ 0
    a(b+c) = ab + ac

    these rules, form the basis for any number system "rich" enough to solve common equations in. and until one learns a LOT of mathematics, it's best just to take them on faith. the set of all rational numbers (or "fractions" as they are commonly called), is one number system that obeys these rules, and will serve to solve many equations.
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  10. #10
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by alexmahone View Post
    Not possible. Sorry.

    Definitely unlikely, but check ouy the CTY Programs at The Johns Hopkins. These folks have for some time blasted through ALL pre-calculus mathematics in weeks, rather than years.
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  11. #11
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    Re: All my goals rely on math, and I'm terrible at it, where do I start?

    lots of good math tutors here: Search: math - Tutor Universe
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