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I'm a high school senior interested in pursuing a major in quantitative economics, which I understand is heavily math-intensive. However, as it stands, my academic strengths are more verbal (780 on SAT) than mathematical (630 on SAT). Therefore, I'd much like to increase my skills at math and plan to devote a great deal of my summer studying from a precalculus textbook or two. That's where you good people at Math Stack Exchange come in. I'm hoping some of you could recommend a precalculus level textbook that has the potential to initiate a neophyte such as myself to the math world. Bonus points if you can recommend a textbook that somehow also has applications to economics.

By the way, I actually have already purchased a precalculus level textbook, the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project's Precalculus and Discrete Mathematics, but am of the understanding that it is more of a primer text and thus would be wisely supplemented by something a little more in-depth. This might be helpful to take into consideration as well. I asked this same question at Math Overflow and was told that the site is more reserved for research-level mathematics, and was referred here instead, so I hope this is the right domain for this sort of question. Many thanks for any and all replies.

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Stewart's Algebra and Trigonometry amazon.com/dp/1439047308 seems to be sufficiently comprehensive, but it's very expensive. –  Dave L. Renfro Apr 23 '12 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

For price and depth of coverage Schaum's and Idiot's guides are fine. In general, a precalculus book should fall apart because you used it so much. Also, try looking for on-line resources. Here, for example, is a set of videos for the non-trig portion of precal. The Trig portion is also there. Lots of other profs have videos available.

Any book will have some econ. examples. Most will be contrived. The main econ example is a multivariate example --- Cobb-Douglas production analysis. There is another example that is important --- input output analysis. For this you need to understand matrices.

All of the precalculus books are pretty much the same. Many have on-line problems, but often these have to be linked into courses. You can work problems on your own, and ask questions on this forum or on reddit.

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I don't have any particular books to recommend, but you might want to take a look at the lectures on the Khan Academy website. It's a bit after my time so I can't say anything about it from personal experience, but the site gets a lot of favorable media attention. Most people find lectures easier to learn from than a book, especially at this level, so you might want to start with these lectures and then use the books for exercises and additional examples and explanations.

As Scott mentioned, the best way to learn math (at any level) is to do lots of problems. Regardless of what books/websites you use, do plenty of exercises, and feel free to ask questions here when you get stuck.

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