Author: Jessica Ljustina, BCom 2017
Year course taken: Winter of 2013
Final mark obtained: 96
Many of you, especially those in MATH 104, will have had some prior exposure to calculus in your high school coursework or elsewhere. From your recent acceptance to Sauder, one can infer that you did well in Mathematics 12. For students with strong backgrounds, calculus might be one of your easiest first year courses. Nonetheless, the self-starter mode demanded at university can be a shock, particularly for those of you less mathematically-inclined.
Practice, practice, practice:
Besides working through problems in your lectures, tutorials, and homework assignments, there is a virtually inexhaustible pool of questions for you to draw from. These include additional questions supplied by your professors, past exams, sample exams as well as textbook exercises. As much as there is strong rationale for completing the required problems, which account for approximately 15% of your mark, the optional questions should be worked through to increase your speed and accuracy as much as possible ahead of exams.
Here is my three-pronged approach: 1) tackle challenging problems as part of your path to mastering a concept; 2) once you have a good grasp of the concepts, drill yourself under timed pressure; 3) finally, write full-length tests while simulating exam conditions.
Make use of resources:
Professors genuinely care about your learning: actively engage during class time, squeeze in your individual questions right before/after class, or attend office hours (book ahead of time for one-on-one consultation). For 184 students, workshops are great for additional practice in a small group setting, and also give you access to help with solving WebWork assignments. Otherwise, attend workshops for an easy 10% of your grade.
For extra (free) tutoring and/or to meet potential study partners, check out the Math Learning Centre and AMS Tutoring Services. In addition, many videos are available online that explain course concepts. Some can be found through the UBC MATH Wiki; Khan Academy is also recommended for a slower pace of teaching. Finally, Wolfram Alpha can be used to check your answers or provide you with a graphical representation of the problem at hand.
Finally, a challenge:
As hinted at upfront, your immediate response to this course will, for the most part, be a function of your pre-existing knowledge and your approach as a learner. I have so far sought to provide you with a possible framework in which to achieve success as an autonomous learner who will be receiving minimal guidance from your professors. In parting, I hope to motivate you to understand concepts as opposed to memorizing processes. As an extreme example, you should have an intuitive understanding of what is meant by the derivative of a function. When learning new formulas, know how they were derived and their implications (my professor walked through all of this in lecture). Exams will inevitably feature questions that test your problem-solving and critical thinking abilities beyond simply applying “tried and true” methods.
Past Final Exams: http://www.math.ubc.ca/Ugrad/pastExams/index.shtml
UBC Math Wiki: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Science:Math_Exam_Resources/Courses/MATH104\
Math Learning Centre: http://www.math.ubc.ca/~MLC/
AMS Tutoring Services: http://www.ams.ubc.ca/services/tutoring/
Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/differential-calculus
Wolfram Alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/Math.html