# What should I study to prepare for College Algebra?

I'm taking College Algebra this fall (Math 111 at my school.) Math has never been my strong point and it's something that I've always struggled with a lot. School starts on September 25th, and I want to use the time before then to brush up on my Algebra skills.

I don't have the syllabus yet, but here's the course description:

An introduction to functions from symbolic, numerical, and graphical points of view. Topics include polynomial; logarithmic, and exponential functions; inequalities, absolute value equations and inequalities, systems of equations, conic sections, and mathematical modeling. This is a challenging and technical course primarily intended for those majoring in Mathematics, Physical Science or Engineering. It is a preparatory class for the four-term Calculus series.

Course Outcomes: Solve polynomial, logarithmic and/or exponential equations, and interpret their solutions. Connect functions and conics to their visual, verbal, or symbolic representation. Provide a detailed analysis of the graph of a function. Demonstrate understanding of the notation and algebra of functions.

So, what is the best/most important thing to study?

• Could you tell us the syllabus? Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 4:11
• @LeoLerena I added the course description to my main post. I don't have access to the syllabus yet. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 4:16
• If you want a book reference I would grab Gelfand's Algebra book which is quite accesible and interesting. Otherwise I think you may find great resources just looking on the web. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 4:20
• You could try working through the Khan academy knowledge map. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 4:25
• @vcable It depends on how well you know algebra 2, and what you find to be most fun, but I think there's little harm in doing Algebra 2 because: if you already know it, you'll breeze through the exercises quickly, and if you can't do the exercises quickly then you don't know the material well enough yet. One of the secrets of learning math is to be vigilant about going back and filling in gaps in your knowledge. So even going back and improving one's understanding of arithmetic, for example, can be worthwhile. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 4:44

I have taught College Algebra a number of times, and can recommend two pretty good books. The first is Dave Cohen's book, he who lectured at ucla for many years.

The second is by Gustafson and Frisk.

All the topics you listed would be important, btw.

• I've got Cohen's book (1996 4th edition, free copy from either a publisher's representative or a colleague who got such a copy), which I've had since 1996, and I used to use it to either find extra credit problems or as stimulation for creating extra credit problems, this being before neat low-contest level algebra problems became saturated on the internet. I've never taught from it, but I've always felt that if I was ever in a position where I could choose the book and (big AND) I was teaching above average level students, then I'd probably choose Cohen's book. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 9:32

Try and buy the Book on Algebra by Harold Jacobs if you can find it.

Also try this book https://archive.org/details/2018CollegeAlgebra/page/n7

I don't know if its the best one on the subject but i think its a good one written in a friendly manner