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Summer Math Program 2016 - for incoming First Year Students

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Most students will benefit from extra preparation in math during the summer before coming to Clarkson. We have lots of ways for you to get some help.  (See our brochure "Calculus at Clarkson".)

Calculus Readiness Assessment
In the spring a diagnostic test is distributed to all incoming first-year students. In excess of 90% of the students respond to this. Based on their individual performance they are advised (by email to students and letters to parents) as to whether they need further practice during the summer.

A few students may need some course work, but most will just need to sharpen their skills in order to have a good chance of succeeding in calculus. The recommendation can take three different forms:

  • A web-based refresher course that is available to all,
  • MA031 Precalculus is offered during Summer Session II, and
  • A special 9-day springboard course is offered to students immediately before Welcome Week.

MA031 Pre-Calculus in Summer Session II. This is a specially scheduled summer course with an outstanding instructor, meeting July 5 to July 30, 2016. There is a 90-minute class every day, six days a week.  The credit does not count toward graduation in most majors. See administrative details and a course description. Housing on-campus is NOT generally available, so this option is only suitable for those students within commuting distance. (MA031 Pre Calculus 2016)

Pre-Calculus elsewhere. Many community colleges and other institutions offer Pre-Calculus in summer sessions. If you want to take such a course, you should move quickly. most summer sessions start late June or early July.

Springboard — Math Refresher This special, non-credit program is designed to get students up and ready for MA131 Calculus I. You should arrive on campus Wednesday, August 17, 2016 (11:00 – 1:00 p.m.). The program runs from Thursday, August 18,2016 thru Thursday, August 25,2016 (the day registration and orientation for freshmen starts). Register by July 1 or until the program is filled (Spring Board registration form)

It covers essential topics in algebra, trigonometry and geometry used in calculus. You attend classes each day, Thursday to Thursday (except for Sunday), for four hours (with breaks).

You move into your fall residence early and get to know Clarkson and Potsdam. 

CU-Math This is a web-based program open to any student.. To get a good result from this program, you need to put in about five hours a week for seven weeks.

CU Math Home page

The program begins on June 27 and ends August 17, 2016.

Private Tutor. You may be able to find a private tutor. It doesn't have to be a math teacher, just someone who knows whether you're doing a problem right or wrong and can explain the right way. This can be a great way to get ready. Here are some pointers.

Get a book and do exercises, about one hour daily, five days a week. The important thing is to get lots of practice.

Don't use a calculator for anything. Calculators are not allowed on Calculus tests at Clarkson.

Books. There are many books for pre-calculus courses. Here are some inexpensive ones that have lots of exercises.

  • Cliffs Quick Reviews (Algebra II, Trigonometry)
  • Schaum's Outline Series (Precalculus, College Algebra, Trigonometry)
  • Bob Miller's Calc for the Clueless: Precalc with Trigonometry
  • Barron's Trigonometry the Easy Way, Barron's Algebra the Easy Way

Topics. Here are the most important subjects to study.


  • Expanding binomials
  • Simplifying compound fractions
  • Addition & subtraction of fractions
  • Factoring and roots
  • Quadratic formula
  • Completing a square
  • Solving equations: linear, quadratic, systems, functional
  • Exponents and radicals


  • Trig function definitions as ratios
  • Trig function values at common angles (multiples of TT/6 & TT/4)
  • Graphs of sine, cosine, tangent functions
  • Simple identities (sin2(A) + cos2(A)=1)
  • Unit circle
  • Inverse trig functions — definitions, principal values


  • Pythagorean theorem
  • Similar triangles
  • Lines: equations, intercepts, slope, graph, parallel, perpendicular
  • Circumference: rectangle, circle
  • Area formulas: circle, rectangle, triangle
  • Volume: box, cylinder, cone, sphere

Once you're here
The ABCs test is our way to ensure that students have the basic skills in algebra and trigonometry that are necessary for success in calculus. The ABCs tests are not Calc I tests, they are tests of Absolute Basic Competencies (hence the acronym). Passing the ABC test is a required part of the calculus course. Students are given many chances to pass this test during the first several weeks of the Fall semester. During that period, voluntary help/review sessions are organized four days per week for those that want it.

MA041 Co-Calculus is a course to help students review Pre-Calculus topics. It meets twice a week for the semester. Students are automatically enrolled in this course along with Calculus at the beginning of the semester.  Students who pass the ABC test at the beginning of the semester are allowed to drop MA041. At the end of this course, students in MA041 have another opportunity to pass the ABCs test, and any who have still not passed are given a final chance during finals week. This course does not cover any new material. Its objective is to give additional help on basic skills for those who need it.