questionsis trig or pre-calc easier?


They serve different purposes. In addition, I'm not sure what the term "pre-calculus" means in this case. I suspect that it is what was once called "Bonehead Math" but can't be sure. At one time, when schools seemed to prepare people better for college, the first math class would have been Calculus, and that only if the student had not already taken calculus in the Junior and Senior year of High School.

One expects that you will have already taken geometry, and have already had a certain amount of algebra. What is your major, and what math classes had you already taken at school?

Normally I would advise taking Trigonometry first, and I suggest that here as well. After perusing the general course descriptions for pre-calculus, I see that there is an expectation that you will know certain trigonometric functions.

[Edit] I just checked a course outline for someone pursuing a degree in math, and trig needs to be first.


@xskoad: In earlier days, students were assigned an advisor, even if their major was undeclared, and each semester (or quarter), would need to have their advisor's signature on their course schedule before they would be permitted to register for classes. I think we do today's students a disservice by not continuing this practice, since it leads to the potential of taking classes out of sequence (and being almost set up for failure by doing so). I thought about taking out the comments on bonehead math in my first comment, since it has a certain tone of condescension that I do not mean it to have, but I think it is instructive to leave it in.

At one time it was unusual for someone to reach university without having the math and English skills necessary to succeed in college-level courses, but I recognize that it is no longer the case. I hope that my recommendation above is of some help.


I am actually becoming a middle grades Math teacher. I do great with all forms of algebra, but have never done any trig or calculus. For my major, I do not need to take both of those classes, just one. Im not trying to float on by, but considering both types of those are pretty foreign to me and I dont ever plan on teaching above middle-grades, I shouldnt need to know both.

I talked to my adviser about it but he just advised me he didnt know a lot about math and would not be able to give me the best answer.

I have already taken College Algebra (which contains a good bit of geometry) and finished it with no issues at all. It has been a good 10 years since I was in high school, so all the maths I took then I have forgotten.


Different animals. Is linguistics or biology easier? Different people would say different answers.

(I was a math major)


I would suggest trig if you're going to become a middle school math teacher.

"which is easier" doesn't quite seem like the mindset I would want my children's math teachers to have though...

(I'm a math minor)


Trig was very easy for me. Calculus destroyed my career plans. It was the only class I had ever failed, I just could not wrap my head around it.

My initial major (electrical engineering) required 3 different calculus courses. Since after 3 tries I still couldn't pass Calc 101, I knew it was time to change my major.


Incidentally, this is the only question on woot tagged with the "calculous" tag ;)


What is your major and how much math will be required?

If it's some liberal arts, go Trig and be done with it. If it's going to be some engineering, mathematics, sciences, or whatever, you're going to end up taking Trig anyway as it's part of the step to Calc 1 (diff eq), 2 (integrals), and on.

Trig can be helpful in real life.


I had to take 2 quarters of pre-calculus, the second quarter consisted largely of trig problems. For me the first quarter was easier, and it consisted mostly of more complex algebra problems with high degree polynomials.

Personally I would say go with pre-calc simply because it will most likely leave the most options open in the future. Whatever you take, find a good study group and get to know people in the math lab. They will be your friends.


I took trig and then pre-calc in high school. Like some posters have said, usually trig will come before pre-calc so I would go with trig. However, IMO even pre-calc is far easier than a full-blown calculus class.


@zarfus: As I mentioned in my post, Im not really looking to float by, I just want to know which is easier as both are foreign to me. I dont want to get in over my head since I only require one class or the other. Im a full time student (actually I would be considered a SUPER full time student as I am taking 24 credit hours).


@xskoad: Fair enough, I would still recommend trig as the others have said. It's basically combining geometry and algebra, lots and lots of angle calculations.


@xskoad: As I'd said earlier, take the trigonometry course. I would wish that you would also take pre-calculus, later, but considering your plans on becoming a teacher, you will need the grounding that the trigonometry provides.

I applaud your desire to be a teacher. Your course load is indeed heavy. I considered trig to be the most fun of anything math stuffs that I've taken, but I admit to other weird personality quirks as well, so that may not be a trustworthy statement. Claude Shannon is my hero.

Please continue to consider deals dot woot as a resource.


@shrdlu: I found Trig a lot of fun, too. I also liked Calculus, too. Well, after my Professor showed how 1+1=3. It made the class very interesting.

BTW, I failed Algebra the first time, and ONLY passed the second time because my teacher (HS) believed in group study.


If you take trig, just remember SOH-CAH-TOA and you'll be all set!


personally, I found calc much easier and more fun than trig. Trigonometry was more about dealing with shapes and graphs and what not which I hated. Calc is more "pure math" so to speak.


@shrdlu: In earlier days college advisors were qualified to do more than open the course catalog and read the prerequisites.


@aphroat: In earlier days the advisor was simply a faculty person in your declared major. In addition, if you had an undeclared major, they split those up between junior faculty, which could be very unpleasant. I do miss seeing certain things required, like Western Civilization, and a decent math/science/language foundation, but there it is. I don't make the rules (and this is probably a good thing).