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deepseas72's avatar

What is the best advice, and best websites you can offer to someone desperately struggling to learn basic college algebra?

Asked by deepseas72 (1076points) January 30th, 2008

I am taking college algebra 101 for the fourth time. I do not have any learning disabilities. I am finishing my junior year of university, but the school won’t let me take any other classes until I pass Algebra 101(it is a university requirement). This is my fourth semester spent taking only this class. I have had tutoring. I have been tested for math “dyslexia”, and don’t have it. Math has been a major issue for me my whole life, while I excel at English, literature, and history. HELP, please!

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9 Answers

paulc's avatar

I’m not sure what exact aspects of mathematics you’re studying but Wolfram MathWorld is a very good resource though it may not be what you’re looking for. I used to study a bit of calculus some time ago and found it pretty decent. Are you not able to ask your teachers for advice on other programs you can take to help? Good luck to you.

gailcalled's avatar

Since you seem to be in a real pickle vis-a-vis this one course, how about another patient and kind tutor? That way, you could learn at your own pace, review when necessary and ask questions over and over, if needs be. My daughter had the same problem and the same wonderful skills in the liberal arts. She chose to go to Brown, which did not have distributional requirements. So she took only courses she loved. Probably not a practical solution for you?

artemisdivine's avatar

i am not a dummy and i never got math either. i needed a tutor for high school math. ok so i was also crushing on a guy but still…. math is FREAKING HARD especially if you have a crappy teacher.

my FAVE line i came across:
Calculator: The TI-83 or equivalent. Your cell phone is NOT acceptable as a calculator.

But I have tried so many useless algebra programs already…

Yes, so did we… It took us a long time to come up with something truly different. Algebra Toolkit was created by a dedicated team of people who understand why algebra is difficult.

These interactive lessons provide an excellent step-by-step introduction to signed numbers; includes: Absolute Value; Comparing and Ordering Integers; Basic Operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide); Integers and the Real World, etc.; you can also download lessons.
Gisele Glosser

Integers: Operations with Signed Numbers
This clearly explains how to add, subtract, multiply and divide positive and negative numbers. Samples are included; a separate page of practice exercises (with instant feedback) is also available.
Amby Duncan-Carr

Interactive Algebra
An outstanding interactive tool to practice algebra skills. This java applet randomly generates problems of the type chosen; instructions are provided and hints are available. Topics include:
Robert Bunge

Interactive Math Lessons
Mrs. Glosser’s Math Goodies is an award-winning educational web site featuring a problem-solving approach to actively engage students in the learning process. In addition to the lessons, other online resources include:

Math Lessons – Working with Signed Numbers
Sample these free interactive lessons from the online Math Courses; topics include:
Nancy Parham, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo State University

Order of Algebraic Operations
Evaluate algebraic expressions by using this Dynamic HTML program (requires 4.0 browser). The program will show you the correct order of operations to be used for any expression you enter.
J. David Eisenberg

Ms. Lindquist: The Tutor
This free, online, Intelligent Tutoring System is designed to assist students in learning to write algebraic expressions and solve word problems. Program can also be downloaded.
Neil Heffernan; Carnegie Mellon University

Intermediate Algebra – CyberExam
Take this CyberExam from S.O.S. Mathematics and get immediate feedback (additional topics in advanced math are also available).
Department of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso

PlaneMath Activities
Explore a wide variety of PlaneMath Activities to develop reasoning and problem solving skills; site includes accessibilty options, parent/teacher resources, and additional links.
InfoUse, in cooperation with NASA

Projects and Investigations in Math
“Mathematics is more than something that you learn, mathematics is something that you do.” At this site you’ll find a great many puzzles , activities and games. If you already enjoy math as a recreation you may find some new ideas to explore; if you (used to) “hate math”, be prepared to change your mind!
Nancy Casey


Only identify what is asked for. Ignore all the ifs, ands and buts….
A problem is understood by solving it not by pondering it.

The algebra section of QuickMath allows you to manipulate mathematical expressions in all sorts of useful ways. At the moment, QuickMath can expand, factor or simplify virtually any expression, cancel common factors within fractions, split fractions up into smaller (‘partial’) fractions and join two or more fractions together into a single fraction. More specialised commands are on the way.

Prerequisites: Fundamental Concepts of Algebra

College Algebra Online Tutorials The introduction to this site remarks, “If you need help in college algebra, you have come to the right place.” Their statement is accurate, as the staff members at the West Texas A&M University’s Vir

Algebasics Under the motto, “Show me how, now!” Algebasics is a fine online mathematics instructional resource that takes young and old alike through the basics of algebra. The breadth of the material is divided…

xyAlgebra For students in college-level math courses, revisiting algebra can be a challenge, and learning for it the first time can prove to be tricky as well. This website, created by Professor John Miller of…

Purplemath Designed and maintained by Elizabeth Stapel, an educator and holder of an advanced degree in mathematics, Purplemath contains hundreds of lessons designed to help students who might be having trouble…

Linear Algebra Toolkit This online toolkit consists of a series of modules “designed to help a linear algebra student learn and practice a basic linear algebra procedure, such as Gauss-Jordan reduction, calculating the dete…


Algebra: In Simplest Terms is a collection of lessons, calculators, and worksheets created to assist students and teachers of algebra.

Bob Jensen’s Bookmarks on Education, Government, Law and Libraries Section

The Math Forum Is…
... the leading online resource for improving math learning, teaching, and communication since 1992.

finkelitis's avatar

I’ve taught math and studied it, and what I run into a lot is people who psych themselves into thinking they can’t do it. Normally, this is due to various traumatic (and sadly common) experiences with poorly taught math classes and horrible teachers along the way. What’s your background with math? When did you start having trouble with it? Did you ever have a teacher you liked? Hated?

Here’s an essay a friend of mine (and a brilliant teacher) wrote on the subject of our failure to teach math well. I think it’s an excellent read, and might help you see the subject differently, in important ways.

A Mathematician’s Lament

Trance24's avatar

Is there any way that you could possibly transfer to another collage that does not require said skill…? Is it even essential to your major?

girlofscience's avatar

@Trance24: That seems kinda extreme, to transfer to another college because of this! I wouldn’t recommend it.

winblowzxp's avatar

Sit down and don’t think that the math is going to do something evil to you. Look at it and consult your notes if you have to. Being patient is a critical thing when you start getting into math, especially more advanced stuff, like calculus (which by the way isn’t as bad as they say). Practice it often. You’ll get better and better as you try each problem…trust me it works. I had to do that in Cal1 when we were doing Integrals, not so much hard as it is messy. Now, I can usually do those in my head because I practiced so many of them and I went as far as making problems up once I exhausted the problems in the book and my reviews…so practice frequently, consult your notes when you get stuck, and ask someone if you get stuck.

denimboy's avatar

First I would recommend altering your mindset. Believe that YOU CAN pass this course and you will. Millions before you have done it and you can too. If that sounds like a cop out, remember we can be our own worst enemy, so try to use outlook as an enable not a disabler.

Next go to every lesson, every lab, every office our the professor offers, everything. More exposure will make the material more familiar. The professors office hours can be the most helpful. They will go over the material and the homeworks and sometimes even give hints about what’s on the tests.

Next do every homework problem. Check you answers by doing them twice. Get a study buddy or a tutor to do the problems with. If you are not sure about a concept try doing extra problems. Practice does make perfect like others have said.

clioi's avatar

Paul’s Online Math Notes is a great site that has sections on undergraduate math from college algebra to calculus and differential equations.

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