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Old 02-17-2013, 02:33 AM
 
Location: San Marcos, TX
2,570 posts, read 7,697,917 times
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If you were going to attempt to teach yourself pre-algebra up to and somewhat through college level algebra, where would you start?

My reasoning here is that I have gotten 3/4 of the way through remedial math that is one level below college algebra in two separate courses. So, twice now, I seem to just almost get it, and then have trouble with the final concepts in pre-algebra and beginning algebra.

I have had tutors, various math teachers, various programs and textbooks. The one time I did the best and had the easiest time was when we used a complimentary computer program outside of class, called ALEKS, and I have looked and discovered that I can use ALEKS again for $20 a month, so I am considering that as part of my plan of attack.

I also read a recommendation for a book, Practical Algebra: A self teaching guide and I would love to hear other recommendations for someone with definite math "issues". It is likely I have dyscalculia but was not diagnosed (I am actually hoping to be tested this month), and I think that I can learn this stuff but obviously not the way it has been taught to me in the past. So, I thought, why not try and teach myself with the aid of the internet, YouTube, and various other helpers? Maybe Khan academy?

It's certainly cheaper than spending almost a grand on a remedial math course at my school (again). Not to mention, if I can get past it without taking the test, it saves me a semester on finishing my degree because I have 2 other courses being held up by my math requirements remaining unfulfilled.

My goal is to re-take the COMPASS math placement test at my university and pass with a 66 or higher, to be able to skip the remedial class and go directly into college algebra but with confidence so I don't worry about failing it. My last COMPASS score was a 34! That was before taking any math though, when I first went back to school in 2008. I have six months or so to do this if it is going to benefit me by letting me go straight to college algebra, but if I could do it sooner that would be better, allowing me to take the college algebra over the summer instead. That may be a bit too ambitious though, considering the difficulty I have historically shown to have in this subject.

I don't even know if it will work, so I don't want to pay for some expensive program, but I figure it can't hurt to try and if it doesn't work I won't be any worse off than I am currently and I'll take the remedial class again. I would love to hear any book/dvd/program recommendations. Preferably inexpensive.

Edited to add:


I am 41 years old, a college senior (1st Bachelor's degree, transferred from community last semester), a high school dropout (got my GED the same year I quit school though), and failed Algebra in high school. Passed pre-algebra in high school but barely.

At my community college, I failed pre-algebra back in 1991 then quit community college for other reasons. I returned to school in 2008 (!), started at the beginning. The remedial math courses there are 0300 Basic Mathematics, 0301 Intro to Algebra, 0302 Elementary Algebra, 0303 Intermediate Algebra -- those are all "developmental" /remedial, and after that you can take college level algebra. I don't know why they label them "Elementary" and "Intermediate", to me they are just pre algebra, pre-pre algebra, etc.

I have taken all of those, you can see my grade go down each level. Got an A, then a B, then a C, and then at the end a D and a grade of "IP", or "in-progress" -- my instructor said she gave me that grade because she didn't think I was totally lost, just that I needed a bit more time to grasp the concepts and move on to college algebra and the IP grade doesn't hurt your GPA like the others. Took the last one last semester (at my 4 year university, all others were taken at the community college) but withdrew when it became clear I was going to fail it again.

Last edited by Sally_Sparrow; 02-17-2013 at 03:42 AM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:44 AM
 
Location: 6st planet from Sun
328 posts, read 679,274 times
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I did it. First pick up several books on the subject, but on the high school level. Set aside about 1 hour or 2 every day for a few months, until you know the stuff and pass the exam books. Do the same with college level. Easy to do on your own--provide you have the mind set
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:24 AM
 
Location: NW Arkansas
1,201 posts, read 1,914,096 times
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The only time I ever "got" Algebra was in my college class where I basically taught myself through a text book that had lots of examples that walked me through a lot of different problems. Then I worked through each assignment problem in the book until I got the right answer (answers were in the back of the book). There was lots of trial and error and trail again, but that's the best way to learn. I think it's very doable if you have the time and initiative. I'm sorry I don't have a text book recommendation, though. I want to wish you good luck...you can do it!!
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:51 AM
 
3,281 posts, read 6,233,986 times
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ALEKS seems like a good program. Also maybe consider watching the videos on Khan Academy.
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Paradise
3,663 posts, read 5,637,034 times
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Math is very difficult to self teach. It can be done, though. I got straight A's up through calculus, but not because I am a math whiz. I did my homework over and over again until I could breeze through it. I was never successful at self teaching, although, I think I can do it somewhat now. Still, I prefer the interaction of an expert from whom I can ask questions.

If you decide to attend another class, here is what I found very helpful:

Prior to class, read through the section that will be covered in the up coming class. Make your own notes and work through the examples in the book. Have your questions ready to go before class begins. During class, the professors move too quickly to be able to absorb the information and your brain does not have time to form questions. I used to fold my paper in half and have my notes on the left side and my questions on the right.

Purchase and use the solutions manual. It is vital to working through the homework.

Any concept I could not grasp, I would show up to my professor during office hours for help - sometimes they hated it and I could see them rolling their eyes. So what. I paid for the class and I never saw these people again.

I also utilized the tutoring center at the college.

I also figured out who understood the material the best from my class and made them my new best friend. Most people want to be helpful and, frequently, I would meet with other, more advanced students before class to go over homework.

Learning mathematics takes a huge commitment for most people; even engineers. This is why math centric professions are among the highest paying. I am not saying that you are not committing yourself, just that you shouldn't sell yourself short.

I, too, was a high school drop out who got her GED and then went back to college. My first two college math classes were a disaster. The first one because I was improperly placed in a class that was too advanced and the second one because the professor was some 90 year old adjunct who couldn't teach his way out of a box. I was convinced that I was bad at math. Luckily, a later exposure with a great professor was what turned things around for me. And, of course, learning the tricks I mentioned above...primarily the tricks.

Mathematics is primarily about recognizing patterns and simplifying the process using the language of numbers and symbols. It is not as mysterious as so many make it out to be. It does take an enormous amount of practice for most of us. Just like learning any language. You won't learn Spanish by watching Telemundo.

How are you at basic calculations? Can you add, subtract, multiply, and perform long division with mastery?
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:36 PM
 
2,711 posts, read 5,328,074 times
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Pick up Algebra for Dummies and take a look at Khan Academy.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:06 PM
 
3,281 posts, read 6,233,986 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleasach View Post
Pick up Algebra for Dummies and take a look at Khan Academy.
Also go to Amazon, search for "Algebra," and find some other books that have high ratings.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:03 PM
 
Location: Paradise
3,663 posts, read 5,637,034 times
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I am not a big fan of Khan. I am not saying that they are necessarily bad, but I see what all the hype is about. They do, however, have a huge database of information. On the practice side, they fall short. They just give you basic information.

I'd be happy to help if needed. Just DM me.
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:32 PM
 
6 posts, read 24,493 times
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Here's a solid sequence of topics from Algebra I that some of my peers find helpful to follow during tutoring sessions. It's nice and progressive, allowing the topics to build on each other logically. Best of luck to you!

1. Introduction to Deductive Reasoning
2. Properties of Real Numbers
3. Linear Equations
4. Linear Functions
5. Polynomials and Polynomial Equations
6. Properties of Exponents
7. Rational Expressions and Equations
8. Elementary Set Theory
9. Linear Inequalities
10. Systems of Linear Equations
11. Two-System Linear Inequalities
12. Radicals
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:35 PM
 
3,281 posts, read 6,233,986 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathfreak94 View Post
Here's a solid sequence of topics from Algebra I that some of my peers find helpful to follow during tutoring sessions. It's nice and progressive, allowing the topics to build on each other logically. Best of luck to you!

1. Introduction to Deductive Reasoning
2. Properties of Real Numbers
3. Linear Equations
4. Linear Functions
5. Polynomials and Polynomial Equations
6. Properties of Exponents
7. Rational Expressions and Equations
8. Elementary Set Theory
9. Linear Inequalities
10. Systems of Linear Equations
11. Two-System Linear Inequalities
12. Radicals
Hey that's good stuff. Do you have one for Algebra II, as well? Just curious to see what it looks like.
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