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I am pursing a bsn degree, but math is a weak point for me. What can I do to increase my knowledge in this area. One of the schools I am interested in applying to requires college algebra, and I'm scared to take it for fear of failing. If anyone has any suggestions for me in helping to prepare for this class, please HELP!!! Also, for those of you that are already in nursing programs, what is the math like for you? Is it harder than college algebra? Thanks for all the comments.


Specializes in L&D/MB/High-risk antepartum; Hospice.

I'm not in nursing classes yet, but from what I've been told by friends the math involved can be very hard if you don't already have a good grasp on the concepts. Personally, I am math retarded, so I just bought "Dosage Calculations Made Incredibly Easy." I found it on Amazon for about $10, although it is a $35 book, just look at the used ones. It explains everything you need to know.....I even understand it.

Specializes in L&D/MB/High-risk antepartum; Hospice.

Sorry, I forgot to tell you that the book I mentioned goes over basic algebra that you would need in a college algebra class. It really does make it very simple.


438 Posts

One thing I would suggest is getting one of those "algebra for dummies" or similar type book. My husband got one of these for his calculus class and he said it helped him immensely. I can only imagine that the algebra editions would be good as well. You might check and see if your school has a tutoring service. At my school the tutors are free if you are on financial aid, otherwise, you pay them an hourly rate, which I don't think is too steep. Good luck! I hated taking algebra, in high school and college.



592 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Home Health.

If you can do these then you can do dosage calcultions:

D/H x C = x


V/T x Q = R

Just plug the #'s in where the letters are and you have your drug!

Good luck!


358 Posts

Perhaps you should describe what the letters stand for as well...

Desired dose divided by Have on hand dose multiplied by Quantity equals x or Amount to give.

Seriously though, maths is very important. My nursing class had maths for meds in the first semester... you had to achieve a minimum of 90% on 4 out of the 6 tests to pass. It was a very tough course for some. I never achieved anymore than a 64% in any of my high school maths, but managed a 100% in my maths for meds course. When you know how and why you are doing something... the math just makes more sense. If I can do it, anyone can.


532 Posts

College algebra is difficult, as is the math needed for chemistry. What I did was get a tutor. I hadn't had algebra in many years and I knew I wouldn't pass it without help. I meet with my tutor twice a week for an hour and I made an A in algebra.

My other suggestions are to go to every class and do all the homework problems. Ask around and see if you can find a good instructor, that can make all the difference.

If your math skills are really weak, you can always take a developmental math class at the community college that will help prepare you for college algebra.

Good luck!

Specializes in Acute Medicine/ Palliative.

We had two math exams we had to get no more than 1 wrong or we recieved a failing grade. I had trouble at first with out a formula....byr once I knew those little bad boys...NO PROBS!

EX) Physicians order avail amount

--------------------- X ---------------------

(how much to give) avail amount

what you wanna find

so.... 40mg 20mg

-------- X -----------

X 1ml

so...step 1) cross multiply to get 20X = 40

then 2) 20X = 40

------ ----

20 20

then 3) the 20 cancels and you divide 20 into 40



Your answer: 2 ml

Hope this helps give an example


Specializes in Acute Medicine/ Palliative.

ah shute! Sorry it didnt come up on the screen as it was set up.....Sorry!:o


415 Posts

If I were you, I would take a remedial and/or intermediate algebra course before college algebra. That's what I had to do, and it made a world of difference! If you don't get the basics down, it will be much more difficult to grasp the harder stuff in college algebra. Good luck!

Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management.

As Laura mentioned, I think the best idea is to get a good tutor for a little bit.

I used to tutor. Found that many students had just developed some screwed up ideas / concepts about the subject at hand (algebra, geometry or trig), and that was what was messing them up in "getting it." These people were smart, and just needed some math re-wiring -- following a step-by-step process.

Once the light went on, they thought solving the problem was easy.

Good luck!


401 Posts

Specializes in LTC & Private Duty Pediatrics.




- Take algebra at community college. Should run about $200-$300 plus the book. If you fail - take it again. If you are going to get into the "game" of nursing/life -- then you want to grab an "A" in Algebra. Seriously, you want to do as well as possible in this course.


- Grab some study guides. Skimping on books/study supplies is not the place to save money. Sometimes you have to spend money in order to make money --- that's the real world. If you need the extra $50-$100 then work a shift or two at McDonalds or whatever -- can quit after 2 weeks - no one cares. Become a temp - whatever.


- How to study:

- Should put in 2 hours/day doing math problems over and over and over. Once you do them -- and they are correct -- do them over. You should be doing math problems in your head. Do the word problems -- get them memorized in your little head -- you can do it -- can't you!!!!!

- I HATE lined paper for math problems. Use typical copy paper. Put date and page # in upper right corner. Punch holes in side and throw into 3-ring binder. Buy one of those plastic erasers (Staedler Enginnering type). They cost $2.50 but are worth it. I hate pink erasers as they leave pink on the paper.

Also, invest in a decent mechanical pencil -- I prefer the 0.5mm type.



Start makine excuses now - and you'll never get through school -- especially nursing school.


- You're stuck on a problem....

- Use your study guides. Go to the library -- they will have tons and tons of algebra books. Now is a good time to learn how to do reasearch to solve a problem...will come in handy down the road. Don't forget the Internet -- might be able to find your answer.

- If super stuck -- then see the prof. Don't wait to ask in class -- - go ahead and see prof during office hours.


- How do you know you are prepared for exam?

- When you can recall the problem(s) from the book (from memory) and do the solutions from total recall.


- The reason you want to study every day. Besides developing good study habits. Algebra (and most math classes) build ontop of previously learned knowlege. You may be able to "blow off" a chapter or two of A&P (not recommended)...but can't do that in a math class.


- Taking the test.

- Most algebra problems have 2 or 3 ways of getting the solution -- learn them. Know how to do checks. This way you can "prove" that your answer is right.

- If formulas are involved -- make sure you can do a brain dump of the formulas. Do this the first thing when you get your test paper.

- Don't expect to only put 10-15 min a day into an algebra course. It don't work that way.


- Sorry about the long ramble. 20 yrs ago I went through the same thing you guys are going though.

- Every parent (mine included) says the same thing, "do the best you can and get good grades". Where they fail, is that they don't give you the "tools/study skills" to succeed. So you either sink or swim -- like being thrown into the ocean with no life presever.

- So, help the above helps/motivates.

- Remember, it gets even more fun when you take Calculus.

- Ok, I'll be quiet now...

John Coxey

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