College Math Software
Student Reviews for 2011-2012
Some people are naturally gifted with mathematical thought, others like me, think it's nice to have college math software. For my technology degree, I was required to take advanced algebra, calculus, and discrete structures; I probably would of never made it through without some outside help. I was too busy to find time for a math tutor, so I bought some online software that helped me through the harder problems.
Types of College Math
College math software isn't going to completely get you through a math class (unless maybe you take it online). Complex or story problems will have to at least be broken down into pieces before entering information into the software.
Math software just plain doesn't work out at all for certain subjects, or it is simply easier to learn how to do the problem the traditional way than it is to correctly input the information. I had trouble inputting complex functions and graphs, synthetic division, trigonometry, and "really" advanced quadratic equations. However, college math software can do wonders with subjects that have to do completely with numbers, like most of algebra and calculus.
Pros and Cons of Math Software
Online students can use math software to the fullest extent; however, an instructor for an in-seat class isn't likely to let you input every question on your laptop while you take an exam. The primary objective of math software is to help students learn the subject material, but obviously many students use it to cheat.
Math software is not always right! I'd say 5% to 10% of the problems I entered were either answered wrong completely, or I did not put in the information EXACTLY how I was supposed to. Computers leave a lot of room for user error. Don't put your complete faith in a math program.
When I used my software I got to choose how in-depth the "show work" feature was. The program would show me a step-by-step rundown of exactly what it did with each problem; although oftentimes I felt that the software would over-examine each problem - which would only confuse me further.
Best College Math Software
Algebrator - This is what I used for my math classes. It's not a God send, but it's worth the money I put up for it. The interface is pretty simple to learn, however you might be searching a while for the correct "wizard" that Algebrator sometimes doesn't put in plain sight. The more time I spent with Algebrator, the more things I learned I could do with it.
Maple Math - While I haven't personally used the software, an engineering friend of mine had his uses from it. Maplesoft's math software is a little pricier than the Algebrator, but apparently they deliver a better interface and more versatility. They even recently made the software available on the iPad...that could have its uses. Maple Math might be a bit overkill for lower level classes.
Bagatrix - Bagatrix has a clean interface and a wide customer base. Reviews around the Internet are generally good toward this college math software. Purchasing Bagatrix is a little different in that your order is highly customizable. You can pick a base subject for around $40, and then add as many other subjects to the software package as you want for $20 (a piece) more.
Wolfram Alpha - Best thing about Wolfram Alpha is that it's free! You're not going to get nearly as many uses out of this "answer search engine", but it's worth a shot. Wolfram Alpha will almost always give you a ton of information that you may or may not find useful with each search as well - like when you type in "What is the square root of 81?", Wolfram will show you 9 in number form, 9 by name, the visual representation of 9, as well as showing 9 on a number line.
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