When students begin taking Trigonometry, they often feel like they’ve been thrown into an alternate universe full of strange lingo, such as unit circle values, sines/cosines/tangents, and reciprocals. There are many terms a student has never seen before, as well as many instances in which they need solid foundations in both geometry and algebra in order to better understand these new concepts.
It’s easy to feel like you can’t keep your head above water, but if you work diligently, you won’t have to feel like you are struggling to tread. Starting out on a good foot is critical, and using the following tips can help you get ahead and stay ahead in your study of this often complex topic.
Review past concepts
Brush up on those algebra and geometry skills, as you will draw on them for solving trig problems. You must understand how to manipulate functions to solve for any variable in the equation, take note of the more well-known geometry formulas, and most definitely know the properties of right triangles. Additionally, you should know that the process of reviewing does not just imply doing so right before class starts at the beginning of the year. Periodically looking back at old concepts learned throughout the year reinforces them in your mind and will aid in your understanding of new concepts.
Prepare for class ahead of time
Read the assigned section on your own before you head to class so you can have a basic understanding of what you will be learning that day. Make a note of anything you find confusing so you can resolve it by listening or asking questions in class. Hopefully, the lecture will go deeper into the topic and answer any lingering questions you may have had after reading the section by yourself. If it doesn’t, this is your opportunity to ask the questions that you noted. Much of the time, other students have the same question(s) as you, but just don’t ask. Do yourself – and your classmates – a favor and ask for clarification if you are confused!
Take advantage of class time
Pay attention in class and ask questions when you are lost. This will allow you to utilize your study time outside of class more productively, rather than having to spend that time re-teaching yourself past concepts. In fact, this applies to every class, not just Trig. Use class time to squeeze in as much knowledge as you can, so later on you can just spend time reviewing it. Another way to make good use of your class time is to become an effective note-taker. If you are a slower writer, make sure to compare notes with a friend to verify that you got all of the information down. Taking excellent notes in class will be a great reference for you when it comes time to study for the tests and quizzes.
Fully complete assignments
When you are answering problems, show all of your work. This will not only help you learn the process, but also enable you to look back and isolate errors if you find you made a mistake. If you are struggling, do more than just the assigned problems – assign yourself something extra to ensure you’re getting enough practice in for your individual learning needs. If your math textbook has an answer key in the back, use it as a reference, but only after you have completed the homework assignment. This will allow you to know whether or not you fully comprehended the section.
Know when to ask for help
If you are reviewing concepts, preparing for class ahead of time, paying attention, asking questions, completing the homework, and are still lost, it is absolutely time to ask for help. Schedule time with your teacher outside of class, find a friend who is great at explaining new concepts, or take advantage of tutoring. The longer you wait to ask for help, the longer you will be confused, and the further behind you will fall. Be your own advocate and take the steps you need to in order to wholly understand the material.