Math 141 is considered one of the hardest classes at Penn State for a reason. It’s a weed out class, and students often go in unprepared. MATH 141 at Penn State takes hard work and skill, but A’s and B’s are absolutely achievable if you follow these tips.
1. Go to Class
This is the single most important action a student can take in order to earn a good grade in this class. The material taught in class is exactly what is on the exam. Furthermore, many problems are quite difficult, and in order to understand them fully, it’s best to have it explained and drawn out on the board, right in front of you. Skipping class means you will have gaps in the curriculum, and every day of class is pertinent to the exams.
2. Take Neat, Diligent Notes.
While going to class is essential, it becomes futile if you sit there and do nothing. Note taking is an excellent way to ensure that the material being taught is transferred from the teacher to you. Write down everything that’s on board. It may not be necessary to copy everything word for word, but if the professor thinks it’s important enough to write down, then it is worthwhile for you to do the same. The MATH 141 website also states that a good way to study is to redo the examples taught in class. The examples are reflective of the material that will be on the exam, but if you didn’t write down the examples or you can’t read them, they are no use to you.
3. Office Hours, Office hours, Office Hours
Going to regular office hours is a key method of making sure you don’t have any lapses in your understanding. Students who go to office hours regularly tend to do much better than the students who do not. Office hours is a great way to ask all your questions, no matter how minuscule, without having to ask in front of the whole class. It allows you to be honest about what you don’t understand, whether it be one small detail, or everything. Not only will you do better on the homework, but you will gain a better understand of the material you are working with. Furthermore, professors like students who attend regular office hours because it demonstrates effort. Therefore, a professor would be much more inclined to boost your end of semester grade a couple points if you go to office hours than if you do not.
4. Do Your Homework Throughout the Week.
In MATH 141 at Penn State, you receive a long, weekly homework assignment. Do NOT wait until the day before. First of all, the homework is graded on a mix of neatness, completeness, and accuracy. Rushing to get the homework done guarantees that you will make mistake and not do your best work. Secondly, the homework is a valuable tool for learning. Doing it at a steady pace allows you to practice the problems and methods necessary to do well on the exam.
5. Study Practice Exams
Practice exams are the best way to know what to expect on the real exam. On the Math 141 website, there are 4-6 exams for each midterm and final. Start studying at least four days prior to the exam. This allows you to do each exam in a reasonable amount of time, see your common mistakes, and take your specific questions to office hours. When you do the practice exam, mimic the real test. Give yourself a time constraint, and do your work as thoroughly and diligently as you would on the real test. If you do not practice proper work method, it’s impossible to expect you will suddenly work flawlessly on the exam.
6. Don’t Panic!
Calculus is scary enough on its own, and the thought of having to take this class may freak you out. However, Math 141 is only considered one of the hardest classes because students do not understand what steps need to be taken in order to succeed. It definitely takes hard work and patience, but it is 100% doable for any student.