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June 7th, 2011, 06:50 PM   #1
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A New World

Well, this is part introduction, part request; but I'll begin with the former. I live in Sydney, Australia as a first-year undergraduate studying Commerce. I will soon be doing mostly accounting and finance subjects. At high school, I did the most basic level of maths that was possible. I am absolutely unprepared for what is actually basic mathematics, let alone the more complex math required for what I will soon be studying. I still have awhile to go before I begin these subjects, so I want to start learning now.

I would like to work from the basics in the proper progression (how it is usually, or should be, taught). So here is my request: could someone advise me as to this progression, with a list of areas/subjects of math that I could work through?

Many thanks.
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June 8th, 2011, 12:17 PM   #2
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Re: A New World

What sort of math will you be studying?

I'm not so sure where to start, but I'll make a brief list and if you think it's about right, we can flush out the details (if it's not right, say so and we can try something else). Because I don't know what math you'll need, I'm just going to assume you're on a track toward calculus, with some statistics tossed in.

In the beginning...
Make sure that you are fully fluent in the basic 4: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. This includes long division and long multiplication by hand - gives you a good feel for numbers.
Learn fractions, adding, multiplying, subtracting, and dividing them.
Learn the basic ideas of inequalities - - and know how to manipulate them (what happens when you divide by numbers, multiply by negative 1, etc).
Learn charts, like pie charts or box and leaf plots
Learn the basics of graphing: y = x, y = x + 5, etc.
Learn the fundamentals of algebra: solve equations for x of various forms.
Learn more about graphing and functions: y + x^2, y = (x-3)^2*(x+1) + 2 for example [this is a really big topic, but maybe you already know it - so I'll not flush it out yet]
Learn the basics of geometry (perhaps combining algebra and functions)
Learn even more about graphing, functions, and algebra (they're now very related): some trigonometric functions, sin,cos, logarithms, and solving these equations graphically and non-graphically
NOTE - somewhere starting around now, you know enough to learn about statistics. We could flesh this out too, if you wanted.
Learn trigonometry
Learn what most have started to call 'pre-calculus', but what is really a fancy word for even even more about graphing, functions, and algebra.
Learn calculus.

I know it's highly abbreviated, but I didn't know where to begin. Is that at all adequate?
DLowry is offline  
June 12th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #3
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Re: A New World

Thank you, that was helpful!

I would like to know what each of these is called, so that I can buy textbooks and such. From 'learn the fundamentals of algebra' onwards, what are they called?
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June 12th, 2011, 08:50 PM   #4
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Re: A New World

I'm going to jump in on this one since I happen to have a degree in accounting (and had to take some finance as well, though that's not my best area).

First I would check into which math classes you will have to be taking. Not only are schools a bit different from each other, but you're in Australia and I'd have no clue about that. Will you have to take things like trig and calculus? I'm sure you'd have to take through college algebra and some statistics at least, although I've known of people with business degrees who never even had to take statistics. So check up on that.

Prior to entering these classes, I would not worry too much about learning things like statistics, trig or pre-calculus, unless your school assumes you have these before coming to college. i.e. are these not part of the curriculum you have to take? Therefore, I would think you need to have the prerequisites to these and not necessarily worry about studying these topics beforehand. (Just for example, around where I'm at, most schools start at college algebra and/or trig and expect basic algebra and geometry to have been taken in high school; some schools - like where I work - have basic algebra offered if you haven't had it; and yet a very few schools want to dump you straight into calculus and assume you had everything else.)

One thing I would add, which would be near the beginning of that list, is things like decimals, percentages and proportions if you feel inadequate in those areas. Those are extremely basic to any math-related business courses. Since you mentioned "learn the fundamentals of algebra onwards," I'm going to assume that you already feel OK in your basic math. You might try a business math book, which in addition to making sure it covers percentages and such, will also introduce some very business-related math ideas. (It also may cover some stuff you could learn in accounting anyway, such as payroll.) And maybe a pre-algebra book, just to make sure you've got those basics.

From there, just any introductory algebra book should be fine for starting into that, as long as you think you've got the pre-algebra down. Then intermediate algebra. From there it would depend on what is in the curriculum and what is expected as a prerequisite. One useful thing for business specifically is linear algebra.

And when you get to the business stuff, we also have a business math forum , or you can go to the myfinanceforum and post there, if you can get yourself past all the spam and junk it's collecting.
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