6 Tips for Passing Calculus Class

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Calculus can be tough! Although you’ve attempted to follow along as your instructor rushes through PowerPoints with long equations and complicated symbols, it can be easy to feel like you have no idea what you’re supposed to know. You may want to throw your textbook out the window, but you know you need to pass this class. If this sounds familiar, try these six tips for getting the grades in calculus you need to excel.

Identify previous topics to review

If you get your syllabus or take a look at your first homework assignment and start to panic, remember what your meditation app always tells you: Breathe! Instead of allowing anxiety to take over, create a plan that appeals to the logical side of your brain and review previous topics to spark confidence within:

  • Review previous concepts from precalculus, trigonometry, and algebra

  • Use old homework and tests from previous classes to jog your memory

  • Create your own Quizlets or flashcards that cover important topics for review

  • Reach out to your instructor for resources that they recommend

Spread out your studying

Although it’s tempting to only study the night before a big test, this is almost impossible to successfully do with calculus. Instead of strict memorization, you’ll need to actively understand how to solve problems and why certain concepts apply. This requires consistent practice over multiple days, not just the night before. If you’re juggling multiple classes, try to prioritize this class given how easy it is to fall behind.

Complete practice problems

While you may find them mind-numbing, completing practice problems is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for success in calculus. Although you would much rather watch the newest episode of your favorite TV show after finally finishing your calculus homework, you’ll thank yourself later if you squeeze in a few extra practice problems. Not sure where to find some? Try asking your instructor or check the end of your textbook chapter.

Create a study group

If you’re going to suffer, you might as well have company. That’s why creating a study group is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable. As you’re selecting your group, make sure that your fellow students are just as motivated as you are. Although study groups are well-intentioned, they can easily turn into a friendly hang out with no homework in sight. Before attending your upcoming study session, also ensure that you have reviewed material and completed any relevant homework beforehand, so you’re not just listening to the conversation, but actively participating in it.

Utilize online resources to supplement learning

In addition to completing practice problems provided by your instructor or your textbook, don’t shy away from legitimate resources on the wide world of the internet. For starters, we’ve gathered a few websites with free, easily-accessible resources:

  • Khan Academy - Free courses with lectures and practice activities on any calculus topic. Create an account to earn points as you go through the lessons!

  • Study.com - This free collection has thousands of five-minute lessons created by expert teachers for students of all levels. 

  • Symbolab - This free online calculator is not meant to get you to the right answer on a homework question. Instead, use it to check your work and learn where you may have gone wrong given that they include step-by-step calculations.

Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

It can be very tempting to draft that email to your school counselor with some elaborate excuse for needing to drop the class, or Googling whether or not you really need to pass calculus to get into med school. Unfortunately, you’re taking this class for a reason. Since you can’t change this, the only real thing you can do is use this requirement as motivation. Having trouble remembering your “why”? Write “GRADUATE COLLEGE” or “BECOME A DOCTOR” on a sticky note and put it on your calculus notebook, so you never lose sight of your goal. 


By reading this article, you’ve procrastinated for another two or three minutes, but we hope that you now feel prepared to dive into your coursework with more confidence and a little less fear. With the right tools and strategies at your disposal, you’ll be passing the class before you know it. In need of a bit more motivation? Check out our selection of STEM-inspired jewelry today!