# Calculus Physics And Beyond

Discussion in 'Math' started by ElectronicsFanatic, Apr 19, 2012.

1. ### ElectronicsFanatic Thread Starter Member

Feb 12, 2012
30
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Ok, I just finished up my Calculus I class today and I completely failed my final. I am really frustrated over the whole thing. I will pass the class, but will end up with a C. I am not very happy about it at all. This was all new material for me and I felt like I was being rushed through it all. There was so much stuff to learn and try to remember. I really had a hard time trying to remember all the formulas. There were so many it was all raddled around in my head. I would use wrong formulas and forget to add negatives and the whole works.

Here is my question for all you math wiz people out there. How do you remember it all? I guess I didn't give myself enough time for study. I have been thinking about reviewing over the material again while I only have one class for 2 months. I don't want to end up as a bad engineer. Any ideas on some things I can do to get a better understanding of Calc I. I guess just study more and do more math problems.

2. ### Papabravo Expert

Feb 24, 2006
11,678
2,454
I like to annotate the derivations with all the supplementary information required to do each step of a derivation. I do all the exercises at the end of the chapter not just the ones which are assigned. It takes a large investment of time but the payoff is enormous. My first three semesters at Michigan I had a 2.5, 2.4, 2.2 GPA average and was on a fast track to nowhere. In semester 4 however I raised it to 3.75. It can be done but you have to really want it.

3. ### 1chance Member

Nov 26, 2011
42
185
I suggest you subdivide the material according to topics. It seems that you tried to memorize a jumble of formulas without understanding why or when to use them. Some of the basic topics you should have a grasp on after Calculus I include limits, derrivatives,and integration, with applications involving area under the curve, tangent line problems, and rate of change (word problems). If you are going to have success in Calculus II and III you REALLY need a much better grasp of CalcI.
I would suggest making up notecards using a system by which you have them notated according to general topic, specific topic, example problem and necessary formulas. You need to work on recognizing what the problem is asking before you focus on solutions. After you recognize what you want, then focus on how to get there.
I hope this helps as this is something I have suggested to my students (I teach calculus I in the high school setting).
Above all, do not give up. You have made an important first step by realizing that you need to expand you knowledge base before you move on.
Let me know if I can help in any other way.

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4. ### russ_hensel Distinguished Member

Jan 11, 2009
825
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I usually make a list of all the foumulas I would like to remember. Then I try to eliminate ones that I can easily derive from the others. I keep doing this and improve my ability to derive and reduce the number of formulas. Sometimes you can generalize with bigger ideas: for example if you know that the derivative is a linear operator you can drop 4 or more formulas about derivatives. I do not know the rule for the quotient of 2 functions, this can easily be recast to the product rule.

Finally go thru the formula, make sure I get the idea, and then memorize them just like I would a vocabulary list.

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5. ### panic mode Senior Member

Oct 10, 2011
1,622
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i used to have big poster with bunch of formulas. when working out problems, you look up and see the formula, after while, the whole thing is carved into your brain. one nice formula sheet that i like to use is in post4 here:

it is called electromagnetics but most of it is actually calculus

6. ### DerStrom8 Well-Known Member

Feb 20, 2011
2,424
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The only way to really remember it is to keep doing it. Do problems, redo problems. Practice makes perfect, and that extends to even after a class. When you do it enough, you'll get in the habit of remembering negatives and all that. I only remember because I've used calculus ever since I took a calc class in high school--EE requires a lot of calculus, and I haven't stopped using it, even after college.

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7. ### K7GUH Member

Jan 28, 2011
191
23
At my age, there is no bleeping way I can remember it all. I keep an Engineer's Handbook and a Thomas calculus text where I can find them, and don't hesitate to look things up. 'Twerks for me.

8. ### DerStrom8 Well-Known Member

Feb 20, 2011
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To each his own, I suppose...

9. ### justtrying Active Member

Mar 9, 2011
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you do not try to remember those formulas, it is impossible. Understand where the formulas are coming from, this will be especially helpful with getting the signs right. There will be some formulas that you have to remember, but the great thing about calculus is that you can always check if you got it right by applying it to a simple equation and performing the reverse (i.e. derivative to integral, integral to derivative). For trig and some other ones, take the trouble to derive them, go through it a few times.

But practice makes perfect...

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Aug 9, 2008
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11. ### panic mode Senior Member

Oct 10, 2011
1,622
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i bet every student would like to say that and bring their references to exams.

12. ### 1chance Member

Nov 26, 2011
42
185
This was my thoughts exactly when I read this reply (and I'm the teacher)!

Unfortunately, academia often DOES NOT model real life.

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13. ### Brownout Well-Known Member

Jan 10, 2012
2,373
1,003
@ElectronicsFanatic,

You'll get chances to apply all that you've learned in Calculus II and III. That's when you'll really learn it. At first is seems overwhelming, but as you progress through the series, you'll nail it down. I know you might think you won't get through the follow on classes because you don't feel like you've learned the material well enough, but you probably will be just fine.

When I took calculus, here's how my grades looked:

Calculus 1: C ( what da hell?)
Calculus 2: B ( it's starting to make some sense )
Calculus 3: A ( Im finally getting it! )

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14. ### DerStrom8 Well-Known Member

Feb 20, 2011
2,424
1,355
Wow, blast from the past. Mine looked pretty much identical!

15. ### ElectronicsFanatic Thread Starter Member

Feb 12, 2012
30
1
I was really upset about the whole thing. I think the last time I had a C in any class was back in 7th grade. I had the same reaction with my final grade because I was getting a B almost an A out of the class. I appreciate your support and enthusiasm. Just what I needed.

16. ### ElectronicsFanatic Thread Starter Member

Feb 12, 2012
30
1

I got thinking about this afterwards and feel like this is the big reason I got the grade that I did. I am going to be spending some time looking over all the material and get a better understanding of Calculus I.

17. ### ElectronicsFanatic Thread Starter Member

Feb 12, 2012
30
1
Lots of good advice from everyone. It makes things a little easier to hear that others were in similar situations and what they did to make it better thanks everyone for the advice. I will be going over the material over the next two months before I start Calc II. There were parts that started making sense towards the end of the class were I could see how they were fitting all together, but I think I will need to understand how to use it and not just try and memorize it.

18. ### WBahn Moderator

Mar 31, 2012
22,986
6,883
As has been suggested a couple of times by others, I believe that the key is to not even try to memorize a bunch of formulas (there are natural exceptions in some exam situations, but not nearly as many as most people think).

Instead, focus on understanding the foundational concepts involved and develop sound problem solving abilities. In most cases, you can work from those foundational concepts and derive the formula you need without needing to look anything up, which can be a really big plus when you are away on travel at a customer's site and they ask for something that most people would give a blank stare and mumble something about it being ten years since they've done anything with that but you grab a piece of paper and work something out in a few minutes that is either correct or a very good approximation.

Again, as others have suggested, take the time and make the effort to understand the material you are supposed to be learning. Don't just look up the specific information you need to work the assigned problems and move on. As the author develops the material, particularly in courses that have a heavy math content, work it for yourself in a notebook step by step. Do not go past a step unless you are comfortable with how the prior step drew upon previous material to get the result in that step. If the particular text you are working with seems really obscure and hard to follow the development, perhaps it is. Go to the school library and look at a bunch of other texts on the same material and try to find one that is organized so that you can follow it more easily.

Do this NOW, while you are at the beginning of your college education. It will force you to overcome most of the shortcomings that you almost certainly have in your education up to this point (virtually everyone has them, some a lot more than others). If you don't, then you will find yourself just getting further, and further frustrated and the pain associated with getting on the right track will only become more painful.