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How to Start Off Your Calc AB Class

It’s officially the beginning of the school year, and for many of you, AP Calculus AB might be the first college-level math course you have ever taken! For some of you, your AP Calculus class is also one of the most rigorous classes you’ve ever taken. Whether you have a challenging AP Calc class or not, we all have the same goal: get that 5 on the AP test in May. In order to do this, you will want to start the year off right with good study habits and efficient math strategies to help you succeed throughout the course.

First, make sure you follow class notes thoroughly in class. Write more than just filling in the blanks and answering the warm-up and practice problems. Draw diagrams and pictures to help you remember certain concepts. Write down more than one way to solve the problem. All of these methods can help you study for the test at the end of the chapter. Learning occurs when you really grapple with a subject and the lightbulb in your brain lights up. Writing extra notes and drawing figures on the side will help you remember those lightbulb moments during your studying, and will likely decrease the amount of studying you have to do in the long run.

Second, do the homework on time! Whether your teacher collects homework assignments every day, once a week, or even once a month, making sure you complete the assignment after each class is essential whenever your brain receives new material. Doing homework allows your brain to go through and check for understanding on the new material you’ve just learned.

Third, go through your class notes one more time after you’ve finished your homework assignment. Completing the homework assignment does not always mean that you understand the material thoroughly. By going through the class notes one more time and remembering those lightbulb moments, you are double checking with your brain on the concept of those problems. You may also give yourself a small quiz by stating the definition of a vocabulary term or a theorem without looking at your notes. Ask yourself this question: “Do I really understand these materials?” If not, you may need to go through your textbook, ask a parent/teacher/friend/tutor, or even just do more problems in the textbook.

Going into the class the next day understanding all the materials that were taught before is extremely important. Because AP Calculus is a college-level course, there is little or no chance that the teacher will review what was taught before the new lesson every single class. And each class gives you a little more new material every time. Without understanding the old material, you’re most certainly going to have a harder time understanding the new material. Most importantly, be honest with yourself: if you don’t understand something, are uncertain of something, or even just don’t know why something is the way it is, ASK!!!

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