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August 12th, 2012, 04:03 AM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Aug 2012 Posts: 23 Thanks: 0  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! 
August 12th, 2012, 06:38 AM  #2 
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  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 handcalculations 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 prealgebra now. You should probably set fixed goals so you know whether you're learning quickly enough (if not, spend more time). For example: nowAug 20: study arithmetic, including long division, order of operations, etc. Aug 21Sep 30: study prealgebra, including writing variable expressions, factoring, gcd, changeofbase, absolute value, and rounding. OctDec: study Algebra I, including solving linear equations, rules of exponents, simplifying expressions, solving radical equations, graphing linear and quadratic equations, polynomials, and slope. JanFeb: study Algebra II (as much you can manage, you won't have time to learn it all) I think that 1.52 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). 
August 12th, 2012, 09:21 AM  #3 
Newbie Joined: Aug 2012 Posts: 23 Thanks: 0  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? 
August 12th, 2012, 11:34 AM  #4 
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Please help a complete novice
That's fine. Most people only memorize up to 12x12 anyway.


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