Whether or not you have already taken calculus in high school, Michigan Math will be difficult for you, one way or another.
Because here the professors and GSI want to make sure that you understand the conceptual aspects of math, not just memorize formulas or ways you can plug a problem into a calculator to get a result.
Here are the toughest concepts you’ll have to understand (if you want to pass the class).
1. Related Rates
Related Rates are the stuff of nightmares. They’re hard and tough and all-around awful.
Because you need to implement all of your previously learned knowledge when you’re dealing with them. That means derivatives, algebra, geometry, figures, rates, velocity, acceleration… It sucks, which isn’t a shocker since it’s number one on the list.
2. Pre-Calc. Review
Even though it isn’t technically part of “Calculus”, every Math 115 course has to devote a big chunk of its time (and the entirety of the first midterm) to Pre-Calculus.Which basically means that you spend approximately one-month re-learning things you probably learned more than a year ago.It doesn’t seem hard, but you’d be surprised. The average for the first midterm, the one focused solely on Pre-Calc., was a 64 percent.
The average was a 64 percent. Is that not insane? Thank goodness for the curve, right?
3. Understanding Graphs and Tables
Even though this topic encompasses way more than the previous two, understanding tables and graphs is tough as hell.
In the second midterm of the class (which focuses on derivatives and differentiation in general), a couple of the questions included problems where you had to figure out how the derivative looks like.
The catch is, you’re only given two or three values of the first or second derivative. Where’s the critical point? Where does it change concavity? Where is it decreasing? Increasing? Where does it not exist? It should be illegal to add so many words and numbers on one page; it really should. It’s child abuse. Let’s not even get started on how hard drawing a graph (yes, it sounds stupid, but Michigan Math is known for a reason) can be.
Michigan Math (and specifically Calc. 1) are going to be hard and difficult and a little uncomfortable, but as long as you manage to grasp the “conceptual mumbo-jumbo” of the hardest subjects in the course, you’ll be fine.