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I'm working my way through Calculus, 9th ed. by Larson and Edwards in independent study. The problem is that many of the exercises and examples use a lot of algebra tricks that are glossed over and assumed knowledge on the part of the student.

Now, when I took precalc in high school I was a total layabout and didn't really absorb many of the finer points as far as some specific topics go (nested absolute value inequalities, for instance) and I'm having a hard time working through many of the exercises. I have no trouble understanding the calculus aspect of the problems, but fail miserably on some of the harder algebraic aspects.

I know I'm not the only one struggling with this, though -- an overarching criticism I've found of this book is that it assumes too much algebra knowledge of undergrad math students and doesn't fully explain any steps.

What I'm really looking for is a precalc-level algebra reference with good examples that I can turn to for specific topics in algebra when I encounter a question I have trouble with.

Can anyone recommend such a thing?

Edit: I'd also like to point out that I have a kindle, so cheaper suggestions for good kindle books are welcome. That's assuming, of course, that kindle is a satisfactory medium for such a thing. I'm not sure.

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2 Answers 2

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An inexpensive place to turn is the Schaum's Review Series. These have tons of worked examples, and problems with solutions. They are great tools for sharpening your algebra and trig skills. And the bang for the buck is excellent.

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Wow, these look excellent and exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. And there are kindle versions for even better value! –  Pete Ley Jun 9 '11 at 2:59

Pete, I understand your frustration! many of my students understand the ideas presented in class, but are at times unable to correctly solve a problem because they are not familiar with the required algebraic manipulations involved(which is assumed to be known). I do not have a book to sugguest, but I do want to give you a suggestion: every time you encounter a new "trick" write it down in a notebook and remember it. Often, this so called "tricks" are not tricks at all but routine manipulations. That is, they will keep showing up in the course. If you really want a reference, check out the link below and pay special attention to the algebraic manipulations which you find interesting/or have never seen before. cheers, http://www.sosmath.com/algebra/algebra.html

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Luckily, I already thought of this one. :P So far, I keep notes on all the exercises I have trouble with in this fashion (I actually have all my notes in LaTeX in emacs using org-mode) so I can reference them when they come up again. –  Pete Ley Jun 9 '11 at 3:14

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