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Basic College Math Concepts

by Jana Sosnowski

Basic college math classes provide students with a review prior to advanced mathematics study. Goals of the class may include learning mathematical language and symbols, using fundamental properties to solve equations and applied mathematics problems, and using algebraic techniques to solve problems. Basic college math topics include whole numbers, fractions, numbers, decimals and integers. Problem solving, algebra, percents and geometry are also included in course content.

Whole Numbers, Fractions and Decimals

The study of whole numbers includes the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Additional work with whole numbers includes rounding, estimating, exponents, square roots and order of operations. Topics in fractions include mixed numbers, prime numbers, factorization, least common multiples and simplification of fractions. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of both fractions and mixed numbers is also reviewed. The study of decimals includes notation, rounding, and using the four operations with decimals.

Ratio, Proportion and Percent

Basic math students also study basic concepts of ratios and proportions, including rates, unit pricing and similar figures. The study of percents includes conversion of fractions and decimals to percents and vice versa. Percents in the form of proportion and equations are also studied, along with solving problems involving sales tax, commission, discount and markup. Related topics include percent increase and decrease, and simple and compound interest.

Measurement and Geometry

Topics in the study of measurement include U.S. units of length, units of time, weight and capacity. Metric length, mass and capacity is also studied. Additionally, conversion between U.S. measurements and metric measurements is part of the basic college math curriculum. Concepts of geometry include lines, angles, triangles, quadrilaterals and circles. The study of triangles also includes the Pythagorean theorem, and the study of quadrilaterals includes the study of perimeter and area. Topics involving circles also include circumference and area. Finally, volume and construction of geometric figures are part of the curriculum.

Statistics, Real Numbers and Equations

An introduction to statistics includes tables, bar and line graphs, pictographs, frequency distributions and histograms. The study of statistics also includes mean, median, mode and an introduction to probability. The study of real numbers includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of real numbers, including the use of order of operations. Solving equations includes simplifying expressions, properties of equality and multiple-step equations.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.

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