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5 Ways to Conquer Calculus!


1. Communicate with your teachers.
     They are people too. If you are in high school this means telling your teacher after class if you are having trouble with a tricky derivative, or understanding a principle. In college, it is crucial to go to your professors office hours. Showing that you are interested in learning and improving your grade in the class will get you on your teachers good side, while getting you more prepared for future exams in the process!

2. Start a study group.
      Whether it is with a group of your closest friends or complete strangers doesn't matter. Finding a team of people that you meet with weekly makes it more likely that you will study regularly, as opposed to last minute cramming. When you study with the right group of people you end up building off of each other. One person may understand something that you don't, and vice versa! Working out problems with people from your class is sure to boost your test grade and improve your homework score.

3. Study regularly.
      We all know how it goes-- binge watching netflix until the last few hours before the test, drinking cans of Redbull late at night when you finally decide to study, only to crash and wake up with your head in your book, not remembering a single thing you studied the night before. Even if you are not studying late at night, the horror that goes through your head when you look at the exam and don't remember or understand any of it is awful. Reviewing notes after each class or at night before you go to bed isn't time consuming. As you go through the chapter continue to look back on your notes from the previous sections. Make it a goal to do a few questions from information you learned at the beginning of the chapter every weekend. This increases the likelihood that you will absorb the concepts, and reviewing problems the night before the test is a lot easier than relearning everything in the first two thirds of the chapter.

4. Don't just learn the process, learn the material.
    It may seem as though its enough to be able to do the problem, but when you are moving on to calculus II, and using these concepts to illustrate more complex ideas, it is important to actually understand what you are learning. Math (although it may not seem like it) is so much more than learning how to solve a problem. Remind yourself that there are real world applications for what you are doing, and think of possible scenarios. Ask questions in class on why you are taking certain steps, instead of just knowing that you do them. All things in calculus relate to a much more common idea, and when you understand why you are doing it, many other types of problems become so much easier and make the concept much harder to forget.

5. Be determined.
    This is crucial in all classes, not just calculus. It is frustrating when you get a bad grade on a test, or takes you longer to grasp a concept than other people in your class. It happens to everybody. Just pick yourself up, and remember that there are other opportunities to get your grade up. Don't give up on math because the class is difficult. If you tell yourself that you can do something, even after you mess up, you will do it. Even when people tell you that its hopeless, just use it to fuel your determination. Don't be afraid to talk to yourself in a mirror if that's what you have to do. Discouragement only gets in the way of success.

Emily A
Experienced Math Tutor
Arizona State University
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