For students who’d rather subtract math from their schedule altogether but can’t, Florida State University offers MAC 1105 as a lower level math course. Many students add it to their schedule looking forward to knocking out one of their general education requirements. They enter the course with a “just get it over with” mindset. After all, you took algebra in eighth grade. How hard can it be? Well, if this is your first time taking a college level math course, sit down and buckle in. College Algebra remains one of the most failed classes at FSU. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered.
Check out these 10 tips to smooth sailing through MAC 1105.
1. Get the Class Materials
You’ll only need one required text: the class note packet you only can get at your local Target Print & Mail on West Tennessee Street. Yes, you’ll have to take the long walk off campus. But you will not succeed in College Algebra without it. “The note packet was a total lifesaver in the class. There is so much content that is being given during the lecture time that there isn’t enough time for students to be writing down the questions and be paying attention to the stuff she’s saying. I tried taking notes by hand at first, but by the time I was finished writing a problem my professor was onto the next one,” said freshman Sara Ceballos. Other than that, grab your trusty calculator, a thick stack of notebook paper and your favorite pencil to cruise through this course.
2. Don’t skip class
If you like to show up to class when it pleases you, you might want to skip registering for MAC 1105 altogether. A quick visit to the Rate My Professors pages for MAC 1105 teachers shows the “skip class, won’t pass” hashtag as one of the most popular ones chosen by students. “Going to class is so important. It’s a math class, so skipping shouldn’t even be an option. You’re just going to set yourself up for a hard time,” said Ceballos. Set yourself up for success in future courses by getting into gear now.
3. Master E-Grade
You will hate E-Grade by the end of the semester. All the course’s homework, quizzes and tests reside in this outdated online math platform. Each problem has a very specific way to plug in each response and if you misplace a comma, semi-colon or a negative sign, you get the whole problem wrong. “There is no good advice to get over the frustration of E-Grade. The site itself is not efficient. It’s way too picky. The best thing to do is to practice on the site a lot to get used to it,” freshman Wren Fleming said. Practice makes perfect functions as the best advice for first time E-Grade users. “Do a ton of practice problems and understand how E-Grade wants each answer typed in for that particular quiz or test,” freshman Kyle Aloof said. Don’t be shy about stopping by your professor’s office hours for extra E-Grade help. Professors love when students come ask questions. It shows engagement and helps their office time fly by (they get bored, too).
4. Keep up with the Homework
Although the grade influencing power of homework proves slight in comparison to exams, the small percentage weight can make the difference between a passing and a failing grade. “The homework definitely helped me pass the class the second time I took it. I would force myself to just do practice problems until I would get three passing practice quizzes in a row. In me forcing myself to do the questions, I was practicing and actually getting work in,” said Ceballos. Keep in mind, the homework accumulates fast. After each objective learned in class a new homework assignment pops up in E-Grade. Remember to frequently check for homework updates as they can easily get away from you.
5. Give it your all
If you don’t consider yourself naturally savvy at math, this class will feel overwhelming to you. The days of high school math where you could look over the notes an hour before class and ace the test are gone. In MAC 1105, you will cover up to four objectives a day ranging in complexity. “There are some weeks where the work was impossible for me. It just depends on how willing you are to work to understand what you don’t get,” said Ceballos. Even when your best efforts fall flat, keep at it and don’t feel afraid to ask for help. Don’t stress yourself out over dividing radicals and interval notation too much. “Passing isn’t just a matter of putting in the hours. I personally put many, many hours into the course but still came across problems on the test and quizzes that stumped me. You just have to keep your head up and push through,” Aloof said.
6. Get help outside the classroom
Asking for help can only increase your MAC 1105 exam scores. ACE labs on campus right by Landis act as a great resource for tutoring. Student tutors, who passed the class with an A- or higher, are available throughout the day, willing to help you with any questions you might have. MAC 1105 professors always have office hours and can’t wait to help you. “Office hours will become your best friend. Go to your professor and build a relationship with them because it will help you so much when it comes to exams and the final grade in the class,” Ceballos said.
7. Accept the rigor of college curriculum
Did you breeze through high school math? Then the mountain of a challenge known as MAC 1105 will surprise you. MAC 1105 brings into perspective how rigorous the college curriculum truly is, no matter how well you did in high school. “It helped me develop my mindset of how to succeed in college classes. The standard is high and devotion is paramount. If you succeed in MAC 1105 you will learn work ethic and are likely to succeed in your other classes as well,” Fleming said. College Algebra tests you on more than just detailed theorems and tricky objectives. Your work ethic, motivation to succeed and mental toughness will all be put to the test. Tackle every challenging aspect of MAC 1105 with avid enthusiasm and you’ll finish the course a stronger student because of it.
8. Don’t give Up
A time will come when you look over hundreds of unanswered homework problems and a strong desire to quit will wash over you. Don’t give in. Giving up proves the worst thing for your grade. Keeping at it and pushing through builds your mental endurance and will pay off in the end. “I was definitely one of those students giving up midway through the semester, but I reminded myself that if I slacked and got a bad grade it would go on my report. And because it’s a prerequisite for nearly every major, you may as well get it over with the first time,” Fleming said.
9. Study with Classmates
When it comes to math, group study benefits you. Your friends may have a better way of describing problems to help your reach a solution. Their different perspectives on understanding various objectives may help something click for you. Hit up Strozier or Dirac with your fellow College Algebra classmates and grind out that homework. “Group study is so important. If I did not understand a question I could ask a friend in my group to help me and vice versa. For me, group study was especially helpful right before an exam, when I could ask my friends last minute questions and get help on objectives I didn’t get from studying by myself,” Aloof said.
10. Celebrate your Wins and Learn from your Mistakes
Attempt to understand why you received a bad grade. Ask yourself what problems you struggle with the most. Have you really attempted to understand the root of your failures? “For me, I would always record the problems I got wrong during practice and retry them over and over until I got them right instead of glancing them over and accepting I got it wrong. This is how you really improve,” said Fleming. Similarly, remember to celebrate your wins in MAC 1105. This will help motivate you and prevent you from falling down the rabbit hole of mathematical despair. So what if you don’t get 100s on every test or quiz? Don’t beat yourself up. “As someone who took this class twice, I would recommend to just work hard and don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal: graduating. A motto that you will learn to love is ‘C gets a degree,’ so it’s okay if you get a C in the class as long as you pass it,” Ceballos said.