2012 Advice for Newbies

Here are some tips from the 2011-2012 AB students. Some are funny, most are deadly serious. There are also tips from the 2010-2011 AB students if these aren't sufficient.

1.             Study

2.             Know your algebra and trigonometry

3.             Be ready to not use calculators

4.             Don’t aim for an A or you might be disappointed

5.             Don’t cry

6.             Take good notes

7.             Don’t be scared of Joshi, he might be evil but he is not mean

8.             Memorize the basic trig values!

9.             Don’t fall asleep in class. *cough* Andrew *cough*

10.          Set low expectations so your ability to learn won’t be affected by failure

11.          Hint:  Mr. Joshi likes lavender, Bismarck/Berliner doughnuts, and chocolate/bacon themed foods.

12.          Don’t forget the +C!

13.          When in doubt, factor it out.

14.          Watch your signs.

15.          It’s just one step of calculus and 1,000 steps of algebra.

16.          Make your acquaintance with the Continuity Monk. He’s a real bro.

17.          Study and actually do the math at home. It may seem pointless, but in the long run it will help you

18.          ASK FOR HELP

19.          Re-asses when possible

20.          Complete the test reflections

21.          Pay attention during lectures

22.          Take notes!

23.          Have a firm understanding of trigonometry. This includes all trig you have ever done. For some basic examples, be comfortable with unit circles, sine wave manipulation—meaning general form of a sine/cosine wave, degrees/radians (really, I mean radians—those are all you will ever use in calculus class), secant/cosecant/cotangent equations, and trigonometric identities.

24.          Actually memorize baseline trigonometric values (sine, cosine and tangent of π/6, π/4, π/3, π/2, π, 2π). They are needed on the AP test—guaranteed! Making a triangle on the fly kills time that you could be spending on harder problems.

25.          When in doubt, factor. If that doesn’t work, differentiate. If that doesn’t work, integrate. That will probably fix the issue one way or another, or you just have a deeper problem.

26.          Read entire word problems. It is easy to panic when you see a bunch of units and numbers all scattered together, but having a fundamental understanding of the question will make all word problems less daunting.

27.          Work and related rates are not the worst thing in the world. It’s just the chain rule and integration, no biggie.

28.          Don’t be afraid to make an equation ugly in order to make it pretty. Half the time, when you are performing a complex operation, you have to throw fancy ones, conjugate pairs or something gross at it to simplify.

29.          Rational functions aren’t so scary once you get the hang of them. Just know how to do them.

30.          Don’t use the quadratic formula unless absolutely necessary. Almost 100% of the time, you should be able to simplify things instead. There’s also a greater likelihood of failure if you do try using it.

31.          Express answers as fractions—in fact, just keep all division in fraction form until you have reduced things to a single answer. Fractions are your best friend (other than Pythagoras, he was pretty cool too).

32.          Speaking of Pythagoras, he will definitely become your buddy and pal. Especially around Chapters 3 and 4.

33.          Be prepared for extensive staring from Joshi during tests. He really does that. Keep cool— eventually he will get bored of watching you and find an easier target (trust me; he always goes for the angry learners).

34.          Even if you had an A in math for your whole life ever, the cards are pretty much against you, at least for the first quarter of AP Calc AB. But don’t panic—the important thing is to humble yourself early and study everything that makes you uncomfortable, even if your friends say that stuff is easy-peasy.

35.          Give Joshi good advice if he ever asks for it. He totally listens to students and takes good information into account.

36.          If you are in robotics, study as much as you can before regionals and St. Louis. Getting rusty when on the road is a pretty big setback for a lot of people.

37.          Chapters 1-2 are more difficult than meets the eye. Think you’ve studied enough? Try doing book problems that are numbered higher than 20 or 30. Those are the best ones to do, especially if you think you’re going to nail the test. It never hurts to do more higher-numbered problems.

38.          Also, when you think you are totally solid on something, practice your ability with word problems. There are plenty to choose from in your book.

39.          Find a study buddy—it makes the pain more bearable. They’re going through the same thing. A good table group is almost as valuable as studying nightly.

40.          When you a rough test score, don’t blame Joshi. His job is to make you aware of how little you know. Remember: evil, not mean. :D

41.          Remain resolute, even in an environment of extreme pessimism. There are people who were once failing and got a 5 on the AP test.

42.          Don’t be entirely against lugging that giant textbook around—it’s useful to study in spare time, and the work gets more fun, don’t worry about that.

43.          Bring the Joshi some food (ie. room tax) occasionally. He kind of likes that. Just make sure there aren’t too many calories, haha.

44.          While earlier months may seem tough, April is really the worst. Be prepared.

45.          Don’t be masochistic about your study habits. I know it’s tempting to overkill, and it will totally work, but you can be nice to yourself, too. Whatever works for you.

46.          That being said, don’t study too little. It will be obvious when you’re taking the tests.

47.          Oh yeah! Pop quizzes. Those happen all the time. Look at it this way: there’s a quiz more than once a week, sometimes more than twice. We all thought that was a joke when we read advice for newbies last year. It was not.

48.          Have a sibling who took calculus? Have a friend who took calculus? Ask for help. People mostly want to help—we understand what it is like, seeing that we underwent the same kinds of hell.

49.          Kids in BC give pretty good advice. Especially around April, when you are panicking about what is on the test.

50.          Don’t neglect your other AP classes—it’s really easy to do a bunch of calculus instead of reading your APUSH book (especially since calc is obviously more exciting than history), but make sure to maintain a good balance in your study time.

51.          You thought the Chapter 1 test was a wake-up call? Just wait until Chapter 2.

52.          Healthy motivation? Try to be better than your older brother. J

53.          When you get thrown under the calculus bus, it’s not the end of the world if you have trouble reacting with style right away. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove your worth.

54.          Another healthy motivation? If you get an A, no final for you. J

55.          Sometimes online tutorials can be really useful. Joshi is pretty good at lecturing, but in the case that he either doesn’t lecture or you still don’t understand the concept, it never hurts to do more research.

56.          Having study sessions outside of school is a really relaxing way to make your work seem less trying. Go to Starbucks, get some coffee or food, and work out your difficulties with your friends.

57.          Swordfights with Joshi are amusing, but don’t pick one unless you’re prepared to find a derivative or integrate something.

58.          If you take more than one of Joshi’s classes, be prepared to do calculus in the other class.

59.          When you ask yourself, “What is my most important AP class?” always answer, “AP Calculus” in a dull monotone.

60.          Never give up. Never surrender.

61.          Take advantage of retakes.

62.          Know your algebra.

63.          Memorize sine, cosine, and tangent values and review them before every test.

64.          Related rates is terrible. Get help.

65.          Don’t let the easy stuff stump you (chain rule, continuity, etc.).  You’ll realize how simple it is after.

66.          Don’t try to go ahead in the book, you’ll just confuse yourself.

67.          Do the practice problems. Not the easy ones, the hard ones.

68.          Don’t cram for tests. You should be studying a little every night, not a lot the night before.

69.          Don’t mix up derivatives and anti-derivatives.

70.          Anything Joshi writes on the board, take notes.

71.          Keep all the rules and equations in one place for easy reference, and something to study before tests.  This should include the unit circle, sin cos tan values, important derivatives, laws of logarithms, the First Derivative and Second Derivative Tests, etc.  Consider labeling them with what unit they are from.

72.          Don’t freak out about the AP Exam.  When the time comes, you’ll be prepared.

73.          Don’t forget about limits when you move on to derivatives.

74.          Don’t drop a sign.

75.          When in doubt, draw a diagram.

76.          Don’t rely on your calculator.  It should be gone 90% of the time.

77.          Don’t forget the units on certain word problems.

78.          Do the homework problems.  More often than not, they will appear on the test.

79.          Put your calculator in radians NOW and never change it.  NEVER think degrees.

80.          This class is not an easy A.  Be there every day, pay attention, and study.

81.          Studying doesn’t mean watching TV with your textbook open.

82.          If you don’t know what to do, move on to the next problem and come back to it later.

83.          On the AP Exam, it’s okay to guess.  You don’t lose any points, and you can usually narrow it down to 2 or 3 options.

84.          Joshi’s tests are harder than the AP Test.

85.          Don’t be ashamed of yourself when you go study that yellow book you get about algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

86.          Study and be able to do logarithms

87.          Remember substitution

88.          Remember trigonometric values and trig rules

89.          Remember how to divide polynomials and how to find their asymptotes (horizontal and vertical)

90.          Bring Joshi lavender

91.          Don’t email him your reflections and forget to attach the document

92.          Study and remember all algebraic rules

93.          Remember how to factor

94.          Master trigonometric functions early (sin, cos, tan, cot, sec, etc.)

95.          Look ahead, just a little bit but don’t do work, just read through the next chapter so that terms and concept will be familiar

96.          Do the word problems, they are often times the ones that will get you plus they usually apply calculus to real life situations.

97.          Study a little bit every day, even on days off just to keep the calculus fresh in your mind, breaks are killer to your knowledge spree so don’t ruin it.

98.          Keep your work organized; write out everything, this way you will not get confused nor will the person grading you.

99.          Remember +C

100.      It is just the slope.

101.      Joshi loves lavender

102.      Food for Joshi is a plus

103.      Ask if you do not understand!!!!!!!

104.      Do variety of the problem ranging from easy to extra difficult

105.      When doing practice problems, do the bigger numbers.

106.      Never sleep in class.

107.      Show your work.

108.      Don’t ever give up even though its hard…at least put something down.

109.      Pay attention and read the book because some things he talks about aren’t in the book and vice versa.

110.      Make sure you’re actually willing to learn.

111.      Refresh on algebra.

112.      It will always seem hard but gets easier later.

113.      Make sure you check the website often.

114.      Have study buddies or groups.

115.      Don’t bug him when he’s in a bad mood.

116.      For the love of God, do the problems that Joshi gives you

117.      DON’T PANIC

118.      You will forget the +C. Take that as a challenge.

119.      Define what you don’t know. Then ask Joshi for help on THAT.

120.      Do problem sets.  I mean 5-10 problems per night. Don’t focus on the easy problems; look at the word problems at the end of the chapter.  Those are the kind of questions Joshi will place on his test.

121.      Joshi will not make you do homework. YOU HAVE TO BE SELF MOTIVATED.

122.      Don’t do it until you get it right. Do it until you can’t get it wrong.

123.      Remain calm when you see a word problem.  The worse thing you can do on any test is panic.  Take a moment to look at the problem. It’s quite likely that it is much simpler than your terrified mind is perceiving it to be.

124.      Don’t be scared to ask some smart Junior questions, and help in general

125.      Rethink how you study for math; do more problems, watch videos, study harder

126.      Don’t forget everything after AP tests, don’t bum out all your study time

127.      Take Joshi for other classes, it’s more time to get Calculus help/study

128.      Don’t think you’re good at Algebra, you’re not, start practicing now

129.      Enjoy Calculus; this is the last year you won’t be paying to take the class.

130.      Factor all types of expressions well

131.      Know your trig tables and simple trig identities

132.      Don’t forget +C (or you’ll have a nightmare about it like I did)

133.      Spend extra time in class asking Joshi questions

134.      Do at least some math every night.  It’s super easy to fall behind on this.  DON’T.

135.      Practice, practice, practice.  Once you think you’ve practiced something enough, you haven’t.  Practice some more.

136.      Get used to reading math.  It sounds weird to say that, but trust me, that book is dense.

137.      Forget what you learned before; you cannot rely on your calculator.  I know it’s called calculus, not the point.

138.      Show off!  Show your friends and family; it makes you feel better about yourself and they’ll probably be proud, confused, scared or some combination of all three.

139.      Following the last one, try to teach someone else the basics.  They say you don’t really know something until you can teach it.

140.      Get a whiteboard at home.  I did, and it was the best decision I made all year.

141.      Make a study group and actually use it.

142.      Life lesson: make smart friends.

143.      Buy lavender, don’t question it, just do it.

144.      Practice Factoring Equations (including perfect squares)

145.      Memorize the Quadratic Formula (you never know when you may need it)

146.      Make a study plan so you aren’t afraid of hard questions (even if it’s just 2 problems a night)

147.      Read the book, it will help you even if you don’t know what it’s saying

148.      Finish book problems completely, even if they seem tedious (they’re trying to teach you something)

149.      Don’t be afraid of Mr. Joshi, he will intentionally intimidate you so that you’ll do homework, if you’re already doing homework it won’t be so scary

150.      Do homework

151.      If the concept does not come right away, do problems anyway and the numbers will speak to you (or Joshi if it isn’t making sense)

152.      Slow down and relax during tests, rushing and stressing in the moment will not help your grade

153.      Ask questions, even if they seem stupid you’ll gain something from the answer

154.      Don’t get too discouraged at the beginning of the year; just stick with it and spend more time doing calculus work.

155.      Studying’s fine, but nothing beats doing problems.  Do as many problems from the book as you can until you become confident that you understand each concept.

156.      Don’t procrastinate in your calculus work.  Study and do problems a little each night or a lot on a few days, but never cram the day before the test.

157.      Pay attention to the subtleties of each unit and memorize theorems.  Understanding just the basics isn’t good enough.

158.      Later in the year, review units from the past.  Your learning is cumulative, so you can’t just test and dump what you’ve learned like you can in some other classes.

159.      Don’t blow off test reflections; they can make or break your grade.

160.      Psych yourself out early on—better now than later.

161.      You ARE going to die. Even if you think you’re good at math. Succeeding in Calc means figuring how to un-kill yourself.

162.      Even if you are one of those people that say you study and actually don’t have to, you WILL have to study for this class. Or just fail. Whatever.

163.      All that stuff you learned in Pre-Calc? The stuff you remember doesn’t help and the stuff you’ve forgotten does.

164.      You will probably survive, but you’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before.

165.      Joshi is not the devil incarnate; he will give you help if you ask for it. And won’t think THAT much less of you.

166.      Believe what Joshi says. He knows what he is talking about. All of the time. The quicker you figure this out, the better.

167.      It might be a good idea to pick up yoga, or get a hot tub.

168.      If you thought you were good at algebra… you’re not. Same goes for geometry. And don’t even think about trig.

169.      I guarantee you have never experienced a class like this before. Figure out how to adapt and you will be fine.

170.      Study consistently. A little but every day for the whole year is for effective than cramming a month prior to the AP test.

171.      If you need help, ASK! People are willing to lead you to success.

172.      The calculus bus will come after you. Prepare yourself!

173.      Make sure you are the MASTER of algebra. You will lose points on the wrong algebra with the correct calculus.

174.      Do reflections even if you get a satisfactory grade. They might help you push you over to a better grade when you really need it.

175.      Do reassessments. Not only does it improve your grade, it also improves your understanding.

176.      Studying actually helps (but you still won’t believe me and you aren’t going to do Joshi’s 1000 problems and you are going to FAIL)

177.      Don’t fall asleep in class

178.      Sometimes teaching stuff to other people helps you learn it even better.

179.      Give Joshi food. And lavender.

180.      Learn the derivatives/anti-derivatives for trig functions

181.      If the answer isn’t obvious at first, try to do substitutions or find another way to work around the problem


183.      Oh you thought the first test was going to be easy? And you failed it? And felt horrible after? If you don’t study, that fate awaits you after every test, quiz or in class problem.

184.      Joshi tells the most awesome stories. Ever. Mongolian bloodless kill!

185.      It’s just the slope.

186.      Sometimes Joshi goes fast when he is explaining something. Find a balance between notes and listening.

187.      Joshi isn’t that scary (when he isn’t mad)! Talk to him if you need help.

188.      Go in early in the morning for extra help

189.      Don’t forget to change the limits of integration after a u-sub.

190.      Do not forget "+ C"s

191.      Do a lot of practice problems

192.      Being strong in algebra is important

193.      Memorize trig reference angles

194.      Learn how to do multiplication/division the long way

195.      Use external resources to study other than textbook, ex. Videos/lectures

196.      Don't be afraid to ask for help if needed

197.      Study as a group

198.      Pay attention, do not make stupid mistakes on tests


200.      If your time is tight, just put aside half an hour to do a couple problems a night. It will help you more than you think.

201.      Take time to review your ALGEBRA and TRIG. You will need it!

202.      Don’t wait until the last week of summer vacation to study. You’ll regret it I guarantee…

203.      Get a lot of sleep before tests.

204.      Ask lots of questions so you can understand new concepts completely.

205.      Don’t get lazy. You will fall behind easily.

206.      Patrickjmt.com will save you

207.      Remember all those trig identities? Better go memorize those again

208.      Always try the hardest book problems

209.      Don’t leave test questions blank

210.      AP Calc Test < Joshi’s Tests

211.      Two words: Khan Academy (Start using it from day one)

212.      If Joshi writes anything on the board, take notes

213.      Be familiar with sine, cosine, and tangent

214.      Do all of the recommended problems he posts online. Usually they correlate to the kinds of questions he asks on his tests and pop quizzes.

215.      Always expect a quiz. Do a couple problems every night, just in case.

216.      Invest in a whiteboard to do all your chicken scratch, and then copy useful notes and helpful problems to your notebook. It helps you keep your notebook clutter free.

217.      Learn your sine, cosine, and tangent prerequisites! If you haven’t, NOW is certainly the time to do so.

218.      Date someone who is amazing at calculus.

219.      Remember your algebra and geometry

220.      Do as many problems in the book as possible

221.      You may think you are brilliant at math, do not get your hopes up

222.      Attempt to start out well, so that the rest of the year is not a living hell

223.      Do not plan to use your calculator, the entire time

224.      Prepare for “unknown” quizzes

225.      Give Joshi Ferrero Rocher

226.      Remember the algebra

227.      Know your trig functions

228.      Do as many word problems as possible, it will really help.

229.      Study every night, DO NOT slack

230.      Assign yourself your own homework problems, do them every night

231.      Do not forget the +C

232.      Don’t be scared of Mr. Joshi. Ask questions when you don’t understand!

233.      Don’t cram because you’ll be screwed.

234.      Study during the summer.

235.      Study every night so you don’t fall behind.

236.      Form a study group with your friends.

237.      Do homework even though Mr. Joshi does not assigned homework.

238.      Study every night

239.      If you need to, buy some flashcards to practice quick multiplication and addition skills

240.      Don’t be a baby

241.      Even if you are “naturally good at math,” you actually have to try in this class

242.      Watch your algebra carefully, don’t make silly mistakes

243.      I know it’s totally not exciting at all, but studying is a necessity to get through this class

244.      Knowing your trigonometric values for specific radians is damn helpful

245.      Forget your calculators at home.  They’ll only just distract you.

246.      Don’t give up.  The first test is usually the worst.

247.      Even if you do well on the first test, there will always be some test that will kill you. You will probably get the worst grade on a test that you’ve ever gotten at least once during this year.

248.      Takes as many notes as possible, even if its the same thing over and over again.

249.      Practice Problems. DO THEM. Your life depends on it.

250.      Ask Questions.

251.      Do not get intimidated.

252.      Treat your Calc book like your baby.

253.      Bring food.........good food........for Joshi.