How to Learn Precalculus

One of many pre-calculus textbooks available

Learning pre-calculus is an important step students must master before they move on to calculus and other forms of higher math. The concepts learned in pre-calculus are essential for careers in engineering, mathematics, the hard sciences, finance and some design fields. Pre-calculus can be difficult for many students, but there are ways to go about learning it that may help.

    Brush up on your algebra. Pre-calculus builds directly from the concepts you learned in algebra I and II, so make sure you're solid on those before you get started on pre-calculus. If you've started a pre-calculus course and are having trouble, go back and review your algebra; a good review will strengthen your pre-calculus work.

    Take a class. If you're not currently taking a pre-calculus course but need the skills, sign up for a class at your local college or university. If you took a pre-calculus course a long time ago and need a refresher, a single-semester class will be able to get you back up to speed.

    Work with a tutor. Nothing beats one-on-one teaching and learning. If you're currently taking a pre-calculus course, ask your instructor for tutor recommendations. If you're learning or studying on your own, call up your local college or university and ask for graduate students who tutor in pre-calculus.

    Work practice problems. Working problems every day will help reinforce the concepts you're learning, and if you work every day (or almost every day) for at least a half hour, what you've learned will stick with you. Try to work several different kinds of problems every day. There are a number of sites on the Internet that offer practice problems and solutions as well as countless books geared toward practice.


    • Work problems first, then check the answer. If you've made errors, re-work the problem to find out where you went wrong. Follow up by working another similar problem. Work slowly and carefully in pencil. Make sure each step in solving a problem is correct before going on to the next step. Study and practice daily; regular study will help you remember concepts and processes.

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