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August 12th, 2012, 03:03 AM   #1
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Please help a complete novice

Hi all,

I think this is the right place to post but if not I apologise!

A quick background story - I'm 26 and used to believe I couldn't do any maths (was put off at school and left completely unconfident) however last year started working in finance and had to learn a fair bit of (quite simple) stuff. It boosted my confidence and taught me that I actually can do.

So, I have signed up to start a Computer Science course in February and want to get quite good at Maths before then. I am basically a total novice...for example, I'm currently trying to learn to do long division on paper (I know, most 10 year olds can do that...) but I think that gives some explanation of quite how uneducated I am.

Using both Khan Academy and the book Foundation Mathematics I am slowly getting there....But is there anything I should skip? For example, I don't know my entire multiplication table off by heart, should I start there? Should I stick at long division til I get it? If someone could let me know what I should and shouldnt learn to prepare me to be confident for computer science I would be very grateful.

Also, I intend to spend 4 days a week on Math for an hour or two a day between now and February, is that enough time to learn or should I put in extra hours? (Provided I am an average learner, I know everyone's different!)

Thanks very much!
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August 12th, 2012, 05:38 AM   #2
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Re: Please help a complete novice

Learn long division, it leads to an understanding of what division is and is needed to understand polynomial long division. Skip the multiplication table -- this means you won't be able to do hand-calculations but at least it will move you forward faster. What you really need to understand, forward and backward, is algebra, so you're working toward pre-algebra now. You should probably set fixed goals so you know whether you're learning quickly enough (if not, spend more time). For example:

now-Aug 20: study arithmetic, including long division, order of operations, etc.
Aug 21-Sep 30: study pre-algebra, including writing variable expressions, factoring, gcd, change-of-base, absolute value, and rounding.
Oct-Dec: study Algebra I, including solving linear equations, rules of exponents, simplifying expressions, solving radical equations, graphing linear and quadratic equations, polynomials, and slope.
Jan-Feb: study Algebra II (as much you can manage, you won't have time to learn it all)

I think that 1.5-2 hours per day, 4 days a week, should be enough. But if you have a timeline it should be even easier to see if you're on track. It would be better, of course, to break this down further so you have a concrete goal at least once a month (ideally every week).
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August 12th, 2012, 08:21 AM   #3
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Re: Please help a complete novice

Hi there,

Thanks so much for your reply. I am finding with long division that when I get something (for example one I just did, here http://www.mathsonline.org/pages/longdiv.html) - when it comes to 43x7, I have to do a seperate sum..

i.e

43
7 x

and work that our seperately on paper - Is that acceptable, or should I just know that?
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August 12th, 2012, 10:34 AM   #4
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Re: Please help a complete novice

That's fine. Most people only memorize up to 12x12 anyway.
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