Calculus is one of the most important subjects that students will study during their academic careers. Calculus is taught in high school, and it is almost always a requirement for students pursuing quantitative degrees or sciences at university. The importance of studying Calculus is demonstrated by the repeated learning of this subject.
Calculus, on the other hand, is a difficult subject. Understanding the abstract concepts discussed in this field necessitates extensive practice. To help you develop a strong understanding of Calculus, we’ve provided some strategies and methods that could help you get better grades in Calculus at university.
1. Pay Attention in Your Calculus Class
Although it may seem obvious, paying attention in class is essential for succeeding in university-level Calculus. When your professor goes over the concepts with you, they will also help you brush through the logic of the idea, making it easier to understand and digest. It is always easier to understand information when someone else teaches it to you rather than grinding the content yourself. To improve efficiency, avoid being distracted in class by not scrolling through social media platforms or responding to text messages from friends.
Furthermore, professors will always emphasize the most important concepts in class. So, if you pay attention, you might pick up on hints about what will be tested on your exams and what topics to focus on when studying. Maybe your professor spent a long time walking through an example on how to solve a particular type of derivatives, maybe your professor highlighted that certain integral formulas will definitely be tested. As a result, paying attention in class is always a good idea!
2. Take good notes, and hold on to these notes until you graduate
Calculus textbooks are frequently difficult to understand without taking annotations and ensuring you fully understand each page. You may not want to read or study for your next class on some days, but you must convince yourself that doing so is necessary in order to grasp the key concepts you are learning.
Many students are asked to take notes during in-person discussions and class lectures. For some, this is a very simple task, but for others, this can seem overwhelming. People learn information in different ways, so not everyone can take notes efficiently. Some people think better when they write things down and take notes using pen and paper, while others think better when they type their notes. Despite the method you choose, it’s still difficult to learn if you aren’t taking good notes. By following the few simple tips below, anyone will be able to understand key calculus concepts.
- Draw Pictures: Pictures are much easier to remember than words, and take much less time to write down
- Use Your Own Words: If possible, try to summarize your professor’s lecture using your own words. This will make it much easier for you to recall in the future
- Limit What You Write Down: If you try to write everything down, you will get distracted and will often write down irrelevant information. Stick to writing down key concepts that your professor keeps coming back to
3. Read the Calculus Textbook When Needed
Professors create their notes and slides based on the textbook. On the syllabus of every course, professors will explicitly state which learning materials should be used to supplement the lecture materials.
Some of the commonly used textbooks for university-level introductory Calculus include:
- Single Variable Calculus: Early Transcendentals, 8th Edition, by James Stewart
- Calculus: Single Variable, 7th edition by Hughes-Hallett et al
- Essential Calculus: Early Transcendentals, 2nd Edition by James Stewart
- Note: Please check your schools’ course syllabus for the exact textbook used by your professor as the learning materials varies from school to school
4. Form Your Own Study Group
Working by yourself can often get tedious and overwhelming. Working with a study group is extremely beneficial for any student, but is especially important for calculus students. Since math is often viewed as being very difficult to understand, it is a common occurrence for students to encounter problems while studying or completing a homework assignment. Working within a group provides you with a number of different minds to help you solve problems.
Study groups organically create a place where group members begin teaching concepts and ideas to those who do not fully understand the material. As teaching a subject is one of the most effective ways to learn it, this collaborative environment is a great way to develop your mathematical skills.
Finding a study group is fairly easy, especially in college. Simply ask those that sit around you in class, send a message in a class GroupMe, or ask your professor to send a mass email asking students to meet outside of class to study if they would like.
Once you have your study group formed, you must realize some study groups can be more effective than others. Some guidelines to follow when choosing your study group are:
- Keep the groups limited to 3–5 students
- Do the work by yourself first, then collaborate when needed
- Ensure each student in your study group is able to come up with a solution to each problem
5. What to do if you are still struggling
For example, you can reach out to your professor or teaching assistant (TA) to schedule an office hour for them to walk you through the ideas, you can reach out to help centers at your university that have upper years who can help you as well, you could find a private tutor who could help you 1 on 1 to resolve your burning questions, and finally, you could also access homework help apps like Kunduz to help. The problem with the first two options is that these resources are not available all the time, and thus it would take quite some time for your professor or TA to respond to your problems. For private tutoring, it is expensive, as tutors often cost more than $50 USD an hour! Thus, we recommend that homework help apps would be the best option for students.
Kunduz is a Y Combinator-backed EdTech company that helps students in a wide range of subjects including Math, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, and many more. They are available 24/7 and respond to questions as fast as 15 minutes while providing step-by-step homework help. It has a vast network of 40,000+ tutors globally and has answered 58M questions in 11 different subjects. It offers one free and two paid subscription plans:
- Free: free question credits for any subject matters
- Standard Plan: $9.99 USD / month for 50 questions
- Unlimited Plan: $14.99 USD / month for unlimited questions
Thus, if you are looking for an affordable solution that can provide you with 24/7 Calculus support, Kunduz would be an excellent supplement to your lectures, allowing you to excel in your Calculus class!
6. Memorize the Difficult Calculus Formulas Early On
Many courses do not permit you to bring a cheat sheet to your exams, and sometimes the questions are simple but require you to memorize the formulas. Students should not be penalized for answering simple questions that require simple memorization.
We recommend that students memorize the formulas early in the learning process and reinforce their memorization with practice questions. Because you already know the building blocks of problem-solving, memorizing formulas will help you identify patterns more easily when solving complex equations!
7. Go Through Examples Provided in Class
There is a reason why professors would walk through examples in class! These examples exemplify key concepts that students will be learning in that lecture, and frankly speaking, the actual exam is likely going to have similar problems.
Additionally, some university professors might also not provide practice exams and problems, making it even more difficult to learn. Thus, it’s critical to fully understand the in-class examples inside out to be ready for exams.
8. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Most math classes will have practice problems for students to use to help them learn more effectively. Some take the form of textbook problems, while others take the form of homework assignments. To be honest, concepts like differential calculus and integral calculus aren’t that difficult once you know how to solve them. Because it is more mechanical than abstract, practicing these calculus questions will result in significantly higher scores. We recommend that students complete as many practice problems as possible prior to exams in order to be completely comfortable with the material.
Additionally, if your instructor gives past tests, that’s a big bonus! Past tests reflect the instructor’s approach of creating questions, and through past tests, students can have a gist of the difficulty of the actual test and format as well!
If you are stuck on a textbook problem, an assignment question, or a past test question, definitely check out Kunduz to get the fastest problem-solving approach and solution from its network of expert Calculus tutors!
This article should give students a good idea of how to study Calculus! If you follow all seven steps in this article, you are very likely to do well in class because it covers some of the most important steps in mastering a new topic. Along the way, keep in mind that when you’re stuck on a concept, tools like Kunduz can help you get through it!