How to Learn Calculus

thumbnail for this post

So you are in the same boat as I were not so long ago, asking yourself - why am I failing calculus? Man, failing calculus sucks, I should know, trust me.Well, if you are here, it means you are on the right path to correct that. Great! This article is going to help you learn to pass college calculus class. It actually doesn’t matter if you are failing calculus in college, just want to understand calculus for yourself or, for example, because you are into machine learning and AI, you must grasp the basics of calculus. I hope the story of how I completely failed and mastered calculus is going to inspire you. I will tell you exactly how I learned calculus although my math has been terrible since high school. Like, really bad. Never had any interest in math until I started studying computer science (ironic, isn’t it?).

So, this paragraph is going to be a small introduction about me, so you have some point of reference to know that basically everyone with a bit of will power can do this. So I completely lost any interest in math starting high school, priorities were parties, girls.. the usual things. Thought I would not need math in my life. Boy, was I wrong. At one point, I was studying in one college something that i had no interest in, as it turned out and guess what - I was failing calculus. Big part of failing was due my knowledge gaps in precalculus algebra. Since high school my way of learning math was just trying to remember some formulas and trying to remember some example tasks. I had absolutely no understanding about what I was doing. It was mostly just luck that I got something partly right. First part of the exam was theory, I always immediately brushed that part of the exam aside, because I had no idea what I was supposed to write there. It felt like it is written in some non understandable language. But I passed my first semesters calculus I. You want to know my secret? I used the same technique I just described and with like 4th and last chance to pass got lucky and got the minimal required points to pass, haha. That was quite stressful. Then came exam of calculus II (was barely keeping myself afloat during the whole semester) and guess what happened? I failed. But I wasn’t depressed, sad or whatever, I was retaking the exam for the 4th time, but by then, I already knew that the thing I was studying, was not for me, so I decided, if I fail, then I will just drop out. When you have no passion for your subject, you have actually no interest in any of the courses, so that contributed to me failing as well. But now, looking back at it, this was invaluable experience as it helped me out later on. This probably could be accounted as one of the times when failing was absolutely necessary. (I have always believed that to achieve something you MUST fail. So do not be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.) So, a year later, I thought I would give one last chance to studying in college (That was my third attempt. I am not from USA and my studies are fully paid by the government, so do not think I am some rich spoiled kid, alright, haha.), so I went back to my roots - computers. I was always interested in computers as a kid, mostly gaming tho, but I was the one who knew how to do computer stuff as a kid in my local area. But I got seriously discouraged to pursue this field during high school because I had already huge gaps in physics and mathematics. As this was my last try, because nothing else interested me enough, I just went for it. I had no big hopes for this to work out actually.

So, during my studies in computer science, I absolutely fell in love with it and made a successful life for myself. But there was one really big problem… Yep, you guessed it - math. MATH, MATH, MATH! It was everywhere. Like, half of the courses were pretty heavily relying on math. But the secret ingredient to my success here was motivation. I was amazed by what highs someone can achieve if only the person has motivation and will power. I was, again, barely keeping afloat during the first semester in calculus. Some of it I kind of remembered from my previous studies, but still understood nothing. So, I barely passed my first semester. And then again came calculus II (By the way, some topics were already covered in other college that I went to, but calculus here went much deeper). I was, again, barely keeping afloat. The semester was nearing the end, exams were approaching like a dark cloud over the small, sunny, green patch of grass that I had found in an empty, dust covered patch of land. I knew that luck and lame example knitting in the head won’t save me again. So I knew I had to take action. I had tried different methods throughout the course of calculus semesters, but none of them helped me. As I was really desperate, I was ready to try everything. So, I stumbled upon the best book I have ever read. Calculus for dummies. Yep, that is correct. A book. That helped me learn calculus. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon it, probably the same way you have found this article, but it changed my whole perspective on math. It filled the gaps that I had and helped visualize, what calculus was all about. And that was all I needed to understand it. Like, really, understand it. None of the complex things that math professors wrote on the board ever made sense to, because they failed to explain the basics of calculus as dumb as possible. So even a kid could understand it. You still have to invest some time and effort, of course. But it is going to be worth it, believe me. And you are probably not going the be the next Einstein after reading this, but you will pass calculus class for sure. As the exams were pretty close during the time I found this gem, i did not study it as thoroughly as I would have wanted to, read the first chapters to fill my gaps in pre calculus algebra and the most important chapters about the things I needed for the exams. My friend in college was really good at math and guess what - I passed the exam pretty well, considering I had a short period of time to learn calculus, and did even better than my friend. Although she did not do her best in that exam, she was in shock to see that I did better that she did. Was quite surprised myself. Especially, knowing that I was the guy who struggled with calculus my whole time in college, barely passing calculus tests during the semester and suddenly doing the exam way above average. That was a really great feeling. I even got maximum points in the theory part of the exam (which I believe is the reason I did so much better than most), because, as I noticed, most of the people have no actual idea what they are calculating during calculus tests. But I finally UNDERSTOOD what I was doing. And then it was so much easier. I could just figure out how to find answers for tasks without hard-coding completed examples in my head before the exam. I just understood how it all works together and what steps were necessary to get to the end result. Probably that was mostly due to the fact that I was able to visualize and understand, what, for example integrals, derivatives, limits and such are.

So yeah, this is my personal experience about how I learned calculus in college and took my life to new levels. It made me understand that, basically, no one is stupid when it comes to learning. You just need to find your angle to approaching things. Mine definitely is to break things down to absolutely dumb level and work from there. If I can visualize it, then it helps a ton. One thing I did not do was practice enough due to my short time frame. But, hopefully you have stumbled upon my wisdom in a timely manner. So read the book, do some simple examples along the way and then do more complex examples. But the most important part is doing. If you do it and understand it, will stick, I guarantee it. So be sure, that there is no easy way of getting things now and here. You still have to put in some effort. So no need for expensive and awkward online tutoring or tutoring at all. Depending on your end goal, decide, how much you want this. It will be a piece of cake if you are failing a class in college and all you want to do is pass your calculus exam, (which was for me as well, but my take on this changed, after this book, when I realized, math is not that scary), but if you are aiming higher, such as, for example, machine learning or going the science way, I suggest you study this book very seriously. Because I guarantee that it will create the foundation that you have been missing in maths. Basically, you can use this book to to learn how to solve pre calculus algebra and geometry problems as well.

I hope my college experience story is going to inspire you to reach new heights of your life. This book is a must, if you are bad in maths at the moment. I noticed that they have other books as well, for example in physics, so it might be worth checking them out as well, if you are interested in learning other topics. Remember, there is no easy way, everyone who has reached something impressive in life, has put in a ton of effort. There are no geniuses, even the so-called geniuses have put in a huge amount of work that is not acknowledged in the mainstream media. So good luck in your new journey to rediscover mathematics and don’t give up, there always is a way.

Looking for a cool new shirt?