Help her learn Alg II by Tuesday
August 30, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Sister just learned she has to take an Algebra II test on Tuesday that covers the whole shebang. She's forgotten (repressed?) most of it. What's her best bet for an Algebra II crash course that will go over all the topics? She's very smart, but not a math person.
posted by goosechasing to Education (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Khan Academy has a few lessons up. I haven't watched the Algebra videos specifically, but he typically does a good job with other topics.
posted by Geppp at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best crash course, considering she's familiar with the subject, is to just do some practice problems. If she knows (or has, at one point, known) the material, most of it will come back.

It's easier to figure out what you've forgotten once you're in the middle of a problem and don't know where to go next. Starting from scratch is difficult. Doing a few worksheets will be immensely helpful as a refresher.
posted by phunniemee at 10:10 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hire a tutor a) who is knowledgeable about the test's specific content and its balance between topics, and b) who can assess your sister's strengths and weaknesses on the fly so as to optimize the little time she has.
posted by Ardiril at 10:20 AM on August 30, 2012

1) Look up and memorize the meaning of all the symbols. I knew how to do most of it IF I could parse out the forgotten Egyptian heiroglyphs it was written in.

2) Grab a practice software. Spend a few hours practicing over the next few days.

Using the above method, I think I scored an 89% on the CLEP seventeen years after my last math class, substantially better than I needed to pass. I think I had at most two weeks to prepare. I did most of my practice the last weekend before the test.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2012

If she's willing to spend a lot of time over the weekend and is willing to spend some money to help her with this, she might want to look into Aleks.

Aleks is essentially a online individualized tutor that serves up problems based on what other problems you've demonstrated mastery of. An individual can purchase a month's subscription for $20. They seem to have a good module on Algebra 2. Lots of places (including my university, and, I presume, many high schools) use it as a component of a regular course.

(Actually, this would be more useful if she had two weeks. But you do what you can.)

For this to be useful, though, she would probably be looking at spending a lot of hours over the next three days working through problems. (Actually, that's what she needs to do anyway, just this would serve them up to her.) Aleks will then show her what she's mastered and what she still has difficulty with.

It's a pretty cool system.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Idiots Guide series of books have excellent intro/review math books.
posted by fshgrl at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2012

If she's a self-starter for this, there are books filled with practice problems. If she goes through one book and does all the problems, she should be fine. (Internet is fine, but you want to do the problems on paper if the test is on paper.)

(When I took calculus 3, we had a 100% final option. So I skipped all the classes, the midterm, and the homework, then before the exam looked at all the chapters and the questions, and did all the problems in the Schaum's outline book that were relevant, and got my A. The books are a bit old now, but they have lots and lots of examples, and that's what your sister needs.)

A tutor halfway through once she knows where she needs help might work, too.
posted by jeather at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2012

These guys write a free pre-calc textbook, which covers advanced algebra, with accompanying Youtube videos.
posted by XMLicious at 2:29 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Instead of shotgunning and trying to guess, find out what will actually be on the test, and then learn that. "Algebra II" can mean nearly anything.
posted by gjc at 6:27 AM on August 31, 2012

As someone who always, always forgets maths stuff mere weeks after learning them, I have the short answer: no substitute for practice.

Is there a practice exam? Take that stress-free, to see how much she really has forgotten or irretrievably repressed. If there isn't one, not to worry - surely there are worksheets or problem sets. Copy out and do the first few problems for each topic. If stuck, revise notes. Otherwise, sample the middle of those p-sets, revise/consult classmates as necessary, and move on to sampling the harder questions.

YMMV of course, but this is how I've studied for maths the past few years, it has not failed me yet. Also, if possible consult friends or classmates good at maths, because the weekend before the test is not when I'd want to learn a new way to do something. My experience is that different textbooks might use different methods, but she needs refreshing more than wholesale reteaching.
posted by undue influence at 6:42 AM on August 31, 2012

Oh - good luck!
posted by undue influence at 7:01 AM on August 31, 2012

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