Precalculus is a course that usually starts off seeming fairly easy to students but then gains momentum, becoming increasingly more difficult as it progresses. By that point, students may feel lost in the material and unconfident in their ability to solve the problems assigned to them. While many students believe that they may need Calculus help from the beginning of the course, the majority of students do not realize that they need Precalculus tutoring until they are about a quarter of the way into the course. A Precalculus tutor can help fill in the gaps in a student’s understanding of the material by working with him or her to comprehend the meaning behind the multiple concepts studied in class and by also showing them alternate methods for obtaining math problem solutions. There are several reasons why so many students need a Precalculus Tutor:
1. Precalculus is a course that requires a student to have an above average understanding of various functions and their corresponding graphs:
The Precalculus student should be comfortable manipulating different types of algebraic functions and graphing these functions in order to analyze these graphs. Some of these functions include linear, quadratic, polynomial, square root, trigonometric, and logarithmic functions.
2. Students often graduate from one grade to the next without having mastered fundamental math skills needed to excel in the upcoming year:
After completing Algebra, students should be able to solve for x-intercepts, y-intercepts, and the vertex of the function if required. Other important concepts that they should have mastered are: factoring and graphing equations and inequalities to find various math problem solutions. Unfortunately, many students do not have a strong foundation in Algebra II, thus making the transition to Precalculus even more difficult.
3. Many students do not have a full grasp of how to use their graphing calculator to obtain and check answers:
The graphing calculator should be used as a tool to supplement solving Precalculus problems. It is a great tool to check answers and to verify solutions to complex functions that are otherwise too difficult to graph manually. Unfortunately, students do not know how to use their calculator to its fullest potential, mainly because they have not utilized it a great deal in Algebra II.
4. The challenging trigonometric functions that students encounter in Precalculus can seem daunting:
Precalculus is the first math class in which students will be introduced to the graphs of sine, cosine, tangent, secant, cosecant, and cotangent functions. These graphs are particularly challenging since they can be either graphed in degrees or radians and can be translated, stretched, or flipped. A Precalculus tutor can facilitate the learning of these functions by outlining their similarities and identifying their differences. Practice makes perfect and will help the student gain confidence in determining even the most difficult Precalculus math problem solutions.
5. Precalculus draws upon concepts in Algebra and Trigonometry and begins preparing students for the advanced topics in Calculus.
In order to excel in Calculus, the student will have to be comfortable plotting and interpreting a wide variety of complex functions, including trigonometric ones. Therefore, Precalculus becomes an important prerequisite for any student hoping to pursue higher level math classes, including science and business courses that they may take the last year of high school or in college. Precalculus is the bridge to Calculus, and students who will take this course and more advanced math classes cannot afford to miss even a few of the foundational skills learned in Precalculus.
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