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Undergraduate Handbook

Assistance Available to First Year Students

The department has several resources available to assist first year students. Please remember that it’s your responsibility to use the help provided. We assume that you are a responsible adult with an interest in, and a desire to, master the material in the courses we offer.


First year courses have a given text. You should purchase this text before the start of lectures. Normally you will be given a course outline indicating which portions of the text you will be responsible for.

You should read the sections before the lecture in which it is discussed and, if possible, attempt some of the easier exercises (these usually occur at the beginning of the problems). You will be assigned problems from the text and will be examined on them. You should do all these problems and enough others to master the section.


You should attend lectures and take notes in the lectures. Many students find it useful to transcribe these into a neat set of course notes that can be used in preparation for examinations.

The act of transcription will often allow you to identify points in the material that are not clear to you. You should remedy these deficiencies as soon as possible.


Each student in a first year mathematics course will be assigned to a recitation section. These recitations meet one hour a week, are smaller than the lectures and are led by a graduate student or an advanced undergraduate.

The recitations provide a regular opportunity to obtain individual attention and to work on the assignments. There usually is a short quiz based on the assignments in each recitation; these grades will count towards your term grade.

Math Study Hall

The math study hall operates during the academic year in Hylan 1106B. Times and specific information will be announced in class. The study hall is staffed with TAs who are available to assist you on a one-to-one basis.

Again, it is most useful to have specific questions prepared. It is difficult for a tutor to help you if you say your problem is, “I don’t understand calculus.”

Office Hours

Professors have regular office hours and are usually available to meet with students by appointment outside of these.

Examinations and Quizzes

Usually first year courses have two mid-term examinations and weekly quizzes (based on the assigned problems). If you do not obtain the maximum score, you should find out where you made your error and correct your deficiency in this area.

There is a good chance that similar questions will appear on the final examination.

Study Hours

As a rule of thumb, you should spend two hours outside of class for every contact hour. It is very important for you to do this on a regular basis from the beginning of the year. You will probably wish to increase the time spent in study before examinations.

Work Together

It is a good idea to form small informal study groups to tackle problems and compare solutions. But don’t simply copy the work of another student, since then you will not learn the material and will do badly on tests and exams.