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3 Reasons Why Calculus Is so Hard

The derivative of its difficulty is also zero, so it will always be this hardCaptain Calculus

So you are a pre-med or engineering student stuck in a Calculus class and just had your mind blown to its limits (no pun intended). Most students start scratching their heads when limits become derivatives. Then when derivatives become integrals. Then, it’s just hopeless from there. How can it be so difficult? Those of you taking it now know just how difficult it can get. Those of you who are going to take it may start having second thoughts. In reality, it is not THAT bad.

1.) Things start moving

In Algebra, you had some graph paper and drew pretty lines and shapes. In Geometry and Trigonometry, you drew triangles. Maybe you had to combine algebra and Trigonometry at one point, and that was all still math, plain and simple. Distribute, factor, and simplify; these are techniques we have been doing since middle school, but how do you calculate motion? Not only do things start moving in Calculus, they start accelerating and moving faster! As you might have guessed, there is math behind exactly how fast they start moving.

2.) There are word problems

Normally, this would not be an issue because we have word problems all the time. Try solving this one: “Jill has two apples. Jack gives six of his apples to Jill, and Jill then gives half her apples to Dan. If Jack now has three times as many apples as Dan, how many apples did Jack start out with?”

If you had problems solving that one, you are going to be hopeless in Calculus, where you see problems like: “A lifeguard sees a damsel in distress drowning 500 meters away, at an angle of 45º. Half of the stretch is beach sand, where he can run at 0.8 meters per second. The other half is water, where he can only swim at 0.3 meters per second. At what angle should he start running in order to minimize his time to reach the drowning damsel?” If you say 45º you are wrong. Good luck.

3.) It’s like real life

I cannot make this stuff up, because Calculus and Physics are so closely intertwined that many of their problems cross over. For example, a ball’s position function is defined as (insert generic polynomial equation here). What is its velocity at time t? That is actually one of the easier ones. Wait until you get to related rates and you have to design a soda can that will save your employer money because Aluminum (Aluminium if you’re English) is expensive. Fun stuff.

Some Great Calculus Resources

You can ease the pain in learning calculus by using supplemental aids. These can be in the form of hard copy study guides, online videos and courses, and web platforms with practice calculus problems. I went ahead and compiled a list of possible resources to use to help with calculus troubles:

Udemy - Become a Calculus 1 Master: This specific class has a 4.2 out of 5 star rating and should be a helpful way to practice. The use of video combined with in class work and practice provides a great learning experience for users that can do it behind the comfort of their own screen.

At Omninox, we offer practice questions for calculus that cover all the big topics. Practice makes perfect. Therefore, we offer over 200 practice exam questions that are timed, automatically graded, and provided instant feedback/explanations.

The Huffington Post created a great article outlining some great calculus tools you can use where the majority of them are FREE. That's right, free. The six free to low-cost resources for calculus include a mixture of video lectures, interactive websites, and even materials form the calculus courses given at MIT!

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