A Survival Guide to PreCalc


A student notebook from pre-calculus.

Sebastian Vargas, Discoverer Staff Writer

Pre Calculus is a class where your mind is challenged in some sort of way. For some people it is less than others, but every person I’ve encountered has had, some sort of challenge or difficulty when they were taking this course. It may be the teacher or the topics or the class or even the students, but in the Columbus School, Pre Calc is the class freshmen fear when they get to high school.

There is no doubt that Pre-calculus is a challenging class, even the teacher, Andres Arboleda accepts it but when students don’t have a good work ethic in a class of such difficult it can be substantially more difficult for these students. Last year, more than 20 people had failed the class for the first two quarters and with hard work and dedication, all but 4 students passed the course.

Andres is very nice and helpful, the classroom is not nostalgic or dark at all, you get to have the class with your friends, you have freedom so why is this class so feared? It can’t be just about math, can’t it. Well, it definitely isn’t; since the class started many years ago it’s popularity has increased and it has been gaining fame of being the hardest class of the school and this can affect its reputation.

“It turns out that if I don’t do as well in Algebra, precalculus is going to be worst for me. Also, I have heard from friends at 11th and 12th grade, that precalculus is very hard and that I should be scared of it and since I am 2 years younger don’t feel capable of such a hard class.” Juliana Gutierrez, 9th-grade students at the Columbus School.

The fame that this class holds is making it seem like the class of hell for smaller students and this thinking is not one to have months before entering Precalc. The thought of fear and frustration before even starting the course is problematic for the students since they start revolving everything about this thought so they enter the class with their minds ready to fail not to succeed. The first tip in the survival guide simply prepares your mind, if you believe you can pass the class, your mind is going to be prepared before you even start.

“Mentalize that you are intelligent and that you are more than capable of doing great on the class. Also, work on the class before, check the internet and try to enter the class with some small knowledge.” Andres Arboleda, Pre Calculus teacher at the Columbus School.

When a student enters this class he will find out how important homework and classwork is for the grade and ultimately to pass the class. Without work, this class truly becomes impossible and the ‘most feared class in the school’, work and you’ll be fine. The second tip is working, give the class some of your time before the class takes August off your vacation time. Simply do your homework, don’t get distracted in class, study and the class will become as normal as any other 10th or 11th-grade level class.

“One tip can be to work for every class and to get 10 or 20 minutes daily to work on the class to always be on time and prepared for their next class,” Andres says,

Having a hard time in precalculus is not something the world hasn’t seen before, the class is made to challenge our learning, we may enter thinking we are good at math but even if you are, your skills are what the class will put on the test. A third tip can come out of this, if one is intelligent or not, their curiosity is what can help them. When someone is curious and eager to get good grades, they work early and on time so that the grades won’t be a problem, start things early, ask for extra work, your mind can take it.

“If you don’t understand this material, go to office hours or a tutor, send email, or look over the book. Above all, do something EARLY. Topics and concepts build on each other, so you have to solidify material before proceeding to new topics. Spread out your work. When you start assignments early, you get more chances to ask questions, and you develop more opportunities for deeper understanding.” “Tips for Doing Well in Precalculus.” Alpha Math, alpha.math.uga.edu

A good student should apply these tricks for a class such as this one and really for all of the other classes but the most important trick there is to know for precalculus is work ethic. Work ethic can help a student achieve his full potential in any class and in a class such as pre-calculus or AP calculus, having a good work ethic can be a real lifesaver. Knowing when to rest, when to study, knowing how to organize the time so that one work is first and party or rest is later is only some of the ways to achieve good work ethic.

“For me in algebra, I do ok because in math I almost never understand and what makes me not understand is that the teacher does not know how to explain well, and the other classmates do not let him explain so I have to use other aids like a tutor. The tutor has helped me a lot especially for the exams and makes me improve in algebra so that I do better. Also after each class, I review what I learned at home, and with my tutor I do workshops, using all the help my math teacher gives me to improve such as Khan Academy or study guides.” Juliana said,

These tips and tricks are not really going to make a student pass such a class, that depends merely on the student, his capabilities and the help one gets. This doesn’t mean that the tips and trick in this survival guide may not help, they sure can help, but again, it is completely up to the students to try. If a student is in The Columbus School it is because he is capable, capable of achieving incredible stuff in such a hard class. With persistence and hard work the image of this class can change, and pass from being this dark and horrible torture palace to fun but challenging class made for real students.