Math Class Choices

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Thinkinitover, May 7, 2010.

  1. Thinkinitover

    Thinkinitover New Member

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    I have 2 years before graduation and I am wondering which Math Combo will prep me better for USMA: Geometry/Trig., Geometry/Calc. or Tirg./Calc.? I have noticed that Trig and Calc are mentioned specifically in the suggested study course but my original plan was to take Geometry next. Thanks ahead of time for you suggestions!
     
  2. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    It is very helpful to take trig before calc. So, if you plan on taking Calc, I suggest going that route.
     
  3. BeatNavy

    BeatNavy USMA Cadet

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    At the same time, there are concepts in both Trig/Precal and Calculus that are dependent upon knowledge of Geometry.
     
  4. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    This is true. I did not take a separate trig class. My school district puts trig into the geometry curriculum and pre-calc (they call it Analysis) curriculum.
     
  5. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    Overall, the most important thing you will need is a good understanding of Algebra II. You will have to take the Fundamental Concepts Exam during Beast and will continue taking it until you get at least an 80%. It goes over things you should already have learned in Algebra. This is important because they will not teach you the material in the this exam so it is up to you to already know it or study it on your own (you will be issued a cliffnotes book of Algebra II during reorgy week).

    Anything past that, will only benefit you but is not really as vital. USMA will work you up from that point. Obviously, Calculus will also help since you will be taking it second semester.
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Backin the stone age when I was in high school, when the Spice Girls weren't married to soccer players and Enron was viable on paper, I took Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus (which had a good amount of Trig in the curriculum) and AP Calc, in that order. I placed out of MA104, so I took a Yearling math class as a plebe. At that time the class was called MA205, but we took the advanced version called MA255. I don't know that the numbering is the same now, but that's immaterial.

    The point is that, even with my dinky public high school math department, a successive trig/calc curriculum served me very well at West Point, and I am by no means a math whiz. I would say to take trigonometry and then calc, as much of trig will teach you solid geometric concepts. I found that I never used 90% of geometry again for math classes.

    Now, geometry can be helpful for intersection/resection during land nav, but you all are too young to worry about that. They may even just give you GPS now :) The Corps has!
     
  7. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    My experience was similar. I went up through AP Calc and AP Chemistry in my high school. I did not test out of Plebe Calculus completely, but they put me in Section 1. Back then, and probably still, cadets were divided into individual classes in the same subject based upon performance. So, it was easy to tell where you stood relative to your peers (if you were in Section 1, you were at the top, Section 50, well...). Thanks to my high school program, I was able to skate through first semester Calc with little effort. It was not until second semester that I found the need to apply myself at all. Differential Equations (aka Dif E-Q) Yuck year was more challenging.

    In one respect, I am glad to have not tested out of Plebe Calc completely. One of the time-honored rites of passage in those days was "taking boards" (black, not white), which was a tradition that dated back many decades (you can see old photos of cadets in the early part of the 20th Century (when they wore Dress Gray to class) presenting their problems from the boards in almost identical fashion. It was such a formal process (how to set up the board, what to write, which colors of chalk to use, what to say and how to say it, even where to stand and how to hold the wooden pointer) that they actually published and issued a manual for the cadets on how to do it. It seemed ridiculous at the time, but, looking back, it was one of those Long Gray Line traditions I am glad to have been a part of before it died. I doubt that still exists.

    I did completely test out of Plebe Chemistry. The department urged me to choose Chemistry for a major, but, when I learned that testing out of something does not earn you actual credits toward that major, I said, "no thanks."

    Similarly, I tested into Firstie-level German classes, which ended any thoughts I had about being a German major. They told me that, because I had tested out of all of the lower classes, in order for me to have enough credits to earn my degree, they would to have create individual study classes for me one-on-one with the department head. That sounded like way too much "special attention" just to get the same degree as someone who started in the basic classes, so I did not choose to be a German major either. They did send me to Germany one summer to train directly with the German Army on a language immersion, which was GREAT!

    By the way, who were the "Spice Girls?" Did Tiffany and Debbie Gibson get together and form a group?
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Are they seriously using white boards now? Holy crap. One of the other time-honored traditions my roommate and I upheld was to screw with each other by clapping a chalk eraser on the other's guy back, so he had to change his shirt before formation.

    They were popular shortly after the time you got your single-pilot rating on a Pterodactyl :yllol:
     
  9. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    It was not a Pterodactyl (nor a TH-55), but my Nickel Ride was in a "vintage" aircraft. At that time, the primary trainer at Mother Rucker was the venerable UH-1 Huey! It was neat to be part of that iconic Vietnam-era aircraft's history while it was still in the Army inventory. My first IP was a Vietnam veteran pilot who looked like he had stepped right out of Apocalypse Now. He had a huge handlebar moustache and lit up a cigarette on every flight as soon as we passed through ETL.
     
  10. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    We still have black boards/ :wink: I haven't seen any white boards anywhere.
     
  11. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Ahhh...that warms my heart!

    There are certainly white boards at USMA (they began putting them in the newer classrooms/lecture halls while I was still a cadet...when dry-erase was a new invention), but there is something cool about keeping them in the smaller classrooms and older lecture halls!

    Thanks for sharing! :thumb:
     
  12. Thinkinitover

    Thinkinitover New Member

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    Ok..great info.! Thanks guys! Now, how about the science path I am mapping out. Should I go the Chem route or the Biology route. I am leaning towards Chem. after looking at the classes I will hopefully be taking at USMA in a few years. Will I miss anything important if I bypass Biology and focus on Chemistry and then maybe some Physics?
     
  13. Ahart7

    Ahart7 Member

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    Definately take trig. But at my HS in NC geometry and trig are both prerequisites for Calc. Try to take both if you can
     
  14. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    My path is high school was Biology, Chemistry, Physics, AP Chemistry. Like I said, I completely tested out of both semesters of Plebe Chemistry. I was well prepared for Yearling Physics as well. It worked for me.
     
  15. TheKnight

    TheKnight Class of 2014

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    As a math savant I'd recommend you take Geometry if possible.

    My high school offers trig and pre-calc at the same time. So I was able to go Geometry, Pre Calc, Calc.

    Ultimately, Geometry is going to be necessary. Especially if you want to get really deep into Calc. There are certain Geometric concepts that make Calc easier to understand.


    Also, Trig is really easy and you'll probably catch on to it fast. So I wouldn't worry too much about Trig.
    Although all of that depends on your math ability.
     
  16. BAJohnson

    BAJohnson Member

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    If I was in cal AB and most students at my school score a 4/5 can I assume that I will pass the math test during beast relatively easily?
     

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