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I'm going into my first college Calculus Course, Calculus with Analytic Geometry. I have tried to start learning a little on my own but get stuck on the first chapter of some of the Calculus books I have found on the internet. Some are Crowell and Slesnick’s Calculus with Analytic Geometry,Ron Larson and Bruce Edwards Calculus, Thomas Calculus Early Transcendentals, Michael Spivak Calculus. I then also see Calculus with either single variable or multivariable. The topics in these books become way too hard just from the first chapter. Should I just wait for the class and go along with what courses is recommended? I'm lost.

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  • $\begingroup$ Haha, yes, I can imagine you are having some difficulty. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jan 2 '17 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ A lot of students skip trig and go to calculus. If you are one of these, try to do some self-learning on trig. The calculus is easy once you figure out what all the notation is and means. I seen most struggle on the algebra. $\endgroup$ – randomgirl Jan 2 '17 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @randomgirl Hi again, and I don't think trig is the problem. I think the concepts are being hard to swallow, since he doesn't make it past "chapter 1". $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jan 2 '17 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ I have took courses on Trig and Algebra. At this point idk if there is something I'm missing or what. I'm not bad at math or anything, I know I haven't been taught how to write a proof in the first chapter of a book tho. - @randomgirl $\endgroup$ – Alexander John Jan 2 '17 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ That is perfectly fine. Quick question, what are some basic topics in the first chapter? Does it expect you to know some things you don't? $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jan 2 '17 at 21:42
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While not exactly a book, Paul's online notes provide material from algebra/pre-calc all the way up to Calculus III and differential equations.

You will also notice that under the "contents" tab, there are links to

  1. Notes

  2. Practice Problems

  3. Assignment problems


Some of the books you've mentioned I've heard of, and from what I can see, some of them are probably bad places to start, depending on your level of skill. Clearly if the first chapter is too much, you should put the book down or wait until another day or find another book.

You will also find plenty books will probably assume you have background knowledge. Multi-variable Calculus, for example, requires you to understand single-variable Calculus.

AFAIK, the general starter for how you should tackle your first Calculus course should be something like

  1. Limits

  2. Derivatives

  3. Integrals

And applications should be sprinkled in between.

Also don't forget that if you think your getting it but maybe one particular problem is stumpting you, MSE is happy to try and help.

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