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Please Advise - I Have Low Math Skills

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TheCommuter is a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

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Howdy!

Here's my situation in a nutshell. I have almost all my prerequisites completed with a 3.8 grade point average to date. My only major hurdle is completing college algebra. My math placement test scores were so low that I need several remedial math classes. I registered for the remedial math class recently, but the pace was way too fast for me, so I ended up dropping it. I don't know where to go from here, and I really need help. I took 4 years of college prep algebra in high school, but didn't learn anything.

If any of you had low math skills at one time, how did you sharpen them? Did you attend remedial classes? Did you hire a tutor? Did you teach yourself? Or, did you find a good math website or self-study computer program? Please advise. Thanks!

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Daytonite is a BSN, RN and specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

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you may not believe this, but math is very rational. one concept builds upon another. if you don't understand a concept you are going to have problems moving forward to concepts that build upon them. concepts are repeated and enhanced as you make your way into higher and higher levels of algebra. i kid you not. the best thing you can do is to take only one class only, a math class, and really knuckle down and work at it each and every day. doing the assigned homework may not be enough to learn and master the concepts. the trick to mastering math isn't much different from mastering nursing skills. once you understand the concept behind a nursing procedure (an algebra problem), you still have to practice, practice, practice the skills under different circumstances (given different numbers and variables).

here is a website where you can get unlimited practice problems at whatever level of math you are at. it's called interactmath and originally came as a cd called math xl whenever you bought one of the publishers math textbooks. now, you can access the program online for any of the hundred or so math textbooks they publish. you have to have the discipline to continually work problems until you master how to do them. there is nothing tricky about algebra, except maybe understanding how to set up word problems. they are their own animal. i used this website to help hone my skill when i was taking intermediate algebra and trigonometry. here is the website and instructions on how to get set up and use the program:

please read! here are instructions for accessing http://www.interactmath.com/ . once you are on the site, click the "enter" button. the next page to come up asks you to select an author and textbook title from a drop down menu. there are many titles there. i would recommend any of martin-gay's books (ex: martin-gay: prealgebra: 4e, enhanced - the 4e stands for the 4th edition of the book and you always want to chose the enhanced versions of the software on this site because they are the newest and most updated programs). after choosing your book title, click the "submit" button. at this point, an installation wizard window pops up. you need to install the mathxl player (it's free). you may have to first install an active x driver, but the installation wizard will tell you that. just follow the instructions of the wizard to download what you need. it is all free. once the mathxl player is downloaded and installed, you will be given access to the practice problems for the textbook you chose. [every time you go onto this site, the installation wizard will appear and check to see that you have the proper software installed in order to use the software.] you will first see a page of drop down menus for chapters, sections, and objectives contained within the textbook you chose. by expanding the chapters menu, you can see how the chapters of the book are organized. pick one. the appropriate sections and objectives for that particular chapter will appear as well as a list of exercises that are links to the problems within that chapter. click on an exercise link and you will be taken to that particular problem. it takes some time to become familiar with using this program. when you go to a problem (exercise) screen you will find active buttons on all sides of the screen that you need to check out and learn what they do for you. buttons at the top allow you to go back and forth between the previous and next math problem so you don't have to keep going back to that first page with all the drop down menus. as you progress through the problems they become more advanced and increase in difficulty. you can ask the program to show you the step-by-step solution for every single problem it presents to you by clicking on a button on the right side of the page that says "help me solve this". a button below it, "view an example", will show you a sample problem of the same type already solved in a step-by-step fashion. you can also print out a step-by-step solution using the "print" button. you have three tries to get the correct response or answer that the program seeks. once either occurs a new button appears at the bottom of the page: "similar exercise". clicking on this button will bring up another problem of the same type exactly like the one you just solved, but with different numbers. all the same buttons on the right side will still work and you can still ask for step-by-step help if you still need it. that is another great feature about this program. buttons on the left help you to enter things like fractions, radicals and powers. play around with them to see how they work. i could not find a help button or a set of instructions to help in using the program, so you are kind of left on your own to play around with the buttons on the left side to figure out how they work for you.

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*Blessed2BaNRS* specializes in Neuro.

562 Posts; 6,246 Profile Views

Hey Commuter,

Daytonite gave some very good advice. Math does build upon itself, so missing one core section can ruin the whole process for you.

I had to take remedial classes at school, because when I took the entrance exam, I scored a 26 out of 100! I knew that math was going to eat me up because I never took anything in school past pre algebra. I took 3 semesters of college prep, even though I could have tested out and passed up to college algebra. I decided against that, for the reason that Daytonite listed. I knew that if I wanted to pursue a Master's to become an NP, I would need college algebra and I didn't want to miss out on anything! Having to take those classes was a bummer and slowed me down for applying to NS by a semester, but was it worth it? You betcha!! Unfortunately, after all those remedial classes, I will start NS in a couple of months without taking college algebra, so I am afraid that I will lose what I gained, and be back a square 1!!

Retake the remedial classes, 1 at a time, and ask for help from the instructor, get a tutor, do whatever you need to learn the material. But...take it a little at a time. Good luck~

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10,263 Posts; 57,532 Profile Views

I would find a private tutor. I would bet that you are fully capable of this stuff but you're freezing on stuff as basic as multiplying fractions - like me.

And good luck. You'll nail it.

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santhony44 is a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in FNP, Peds, Epilepsy, Mgt., Occ. Ed.

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Does the program you're interested in require college algebra?

My BSN completion program required statistics, not algebra. I took a statistics class in a psychology department because there was no algebra prerequisite. It covered the same material that the math and business department statistics classes covered.

I took it as my only class at the time and worked really hard at it, but it was the only math class I think I ever had that really made sense to me!!

One thing that I think is absolutely critical in any math class is to have an instructor you can understand. Some people can explain things so that I can understand them; others can't. If your math skills are not good, you need someone to teach you who will not skip any steps but go very patiently through every single step. My husband has a degree in math and can't teach me anything, because he can intuitively go from Step A to Step D or E and I can't follow and he can't understand why!

Good luck in finding something that works for you!

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WDWpixieRN is a RN and specializes in Med/Surg <1; Epic Certified <1.

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you must understand some basic algebra to be proficient at doing nursing dosage....i would not want to be lacking in those basic skills for fear of relying on someone else who didn't do correct calculations or that i would screw them up....please don't short yourself on this....

daytonite's message about building on a foundation are dead-on. i was out of high school probably 20 years when i got serious about getting an aa from my cc. i tested back to basic math and was so frustrated as that meant four semesters of math before i could be complete with college algebra!!

my friend's sister who is a high school math teacher gave me the "foundations" speech....i took her at her word....i had some problems with graphing and a few things here and there as i moved along, but the foundation that was laid with a lot of the earlier math helped me earn a "b" in both college algebra and survey of calculus, in addition to passing a graduate-level statistics course with an "a" when i was working on my bachelor's in business.

most campuses have some sort of math tutoring available....use them as much as you can....that's what they get paid for....in addition, when i couldn't get to campus as much as i wanted, i paid a local center, similar to a sylvan (it was kumon-based math center) to get some additional tutoring....i'll never forget the day the lightbulbs went on about how to graph and how that meshed with y = 3x + 2, lol!! it was worth every dime and turned out to just be a little short-circuit in my brain that wasn't getting it. (don't ask me to do it today though -- that was 10 years ago!!)

now, nursing math is basically a piece of cake compared to all of that. you have to understand the concepts and why you're putting numbers in certain places, but it's very, very doable.....don't discount yourself on this subject!!

best wishes!!!

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WindyhillBSN specializes in Telemetry/Cardiac Floor.

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i would find a private tutor. i would bet that you are fully capable of this stuff but you're freezing on stuff as basic as multiplying fractions - like me.

and good luck. you'll nail it.

i agree find a tutor. i used to believe that i was a big idiot in math, come to find out, i just needed someone sitting beside me to answer all of my "stupid" questions. i got a tutor in the middle of the semester and made nothing but a's on the rest of my tests. my final grade was a b.:monkeydance:

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TheCommuter is a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

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You MUST understand some basic algebra to be proficient at doing nursing dosage....I would not want to be lacking in those basic skills for fear of relying on someone else who didn't do correct calculations or that I would screw them up....please don't short yourself on this....
I am a currently-practicing LVN, so I have been doing medication dosage calculations on the job for some time already. In addition, I studied med math during my time in the LVN program. I'll readily agree that med math requires some prealgebraic skills. However, I have never had to do any advanced math in order to calculate a medication dosage, only simpler prealgebraic math.

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411 Posts; 5,079 Profile Views

I also had to take remedial algebra classes. The first one was a complete nightmare. No one knew what was gong on and I ended up dropping it. On my second attempt, I got lucky and ended up with a WONDERFUL instructor who made it all very simple.

My advice would be to chose your instructor carefully. Get lots of recommendations from people who have already been through the classes. I also found it helpful to take a class that met 2-3 times a week instead of once a week. I don't know about you, but after about 20 minutes of listening to anything math related, I'm extremely bored and can no longer force myself to pay attention.

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penny869 specializes in infusion therapy.

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I had the exact same problem. I ended up repeating college algebra. I took the nursing entrance exam and passed it. Multiple choice :) I thought I was out of the woods as far as getting into the program. NOPE,

The college also required all nursing students to take College algebra. I thought no sweat a little hard work I'll be ok. Then I found out what I had to do to pass the class.

The problem was the college that I was attending required you to pass college algebra with a B or better if you were a nursing student. There were no multiple choice questions and you had to show your work.

I failed the class :(

The second time around. I found myself going in the same direction.

Failing!!!

I ended up finding that one person in my algebra class that was gettting all A's and practically begged her to tutor me.

I even knew one girl in the class that was repeating the class a third time.

I did not want that to be me. The school set high standards for the nursing students.

My advise to you. If they allow you to use calculators for the computations do it. memorize the formulas, and memorize each computation step by step. And be carefull its easy to make dumb mistakes in algebra. I used my calculator even for the easiest computations. My calculator and my tutor saved me

I passed it the second time around

Good luck

Graduating Class 2008

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