Posted: 4/11/2006 11:19:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/11/2006 11:19:52 AM EDT by John_Wayne777]
A student came to me today and asked how I would prepare for taking a Statistics course described as
" Descriptive Statistics, frequency distributions, sampling, estimation and testing of hypotheses, regression, correlation and an introduction to statistical analysis using computers. Prerequisite: Demonstration of strong preparation in algebra. Not open to majors in mathematics." The class is called statistics 200 Also, the student asked me about a macroeconomics course, a 200 level course "Introduction to Macroeconomics". Now it has been a VERY long time since I have taken any college math courses, (and even then I really sucked at them...) so I figured I would ask those of you who are good at advanced mathematics about this stuff. What level of mathematical skill do you need to ace these classes? (I assume that a strong grasp of algebra is necessary.) If you lack that skill, how would you reccomend going about developing it over the summer? Are there specific texts and/or other books you would reccomend for learning? The student is a bright kid who made As and Bs in chemistry, but hasn't taken math courses since. The student is also a bit of a mathophobe, (as am I...) as his instructors in high school math weren't very good at teaching. 

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.
George Washington 
Based on that description, it seems to me that the stated prerequisite (strong prep in algebra) is accurate. That looks like a basic statistics course. Wish I could take it, actually. As for Macroeconomics, I have an MBA, and the most advance mathematics I ever did was some VERY basic statistics, and some elementary algebra. I wouldn't sweat it too much. 

"Diplomacy is what happens after one side has gotten its ass kicked."  Rush Limabugh

virtually any intro to macro is going to require very little in the way of computational abilityit is a conceptdriven course.
as for the stats course, it would appear that it is more involved than simply "plug the correct numbers into this formula", which is the basis for intro level statistics. from the description, i would suspect that the answers from basic stats would become part of the question in the advanced class. now, statistics was one of the easiesttograsp courses i've even taken, and i'm not a math guy. i could simply sit down and look at the exam problems and figure out a way to solve them without the need to remember the formulas. i was actually accused of cheating because of this, until i was retested in front of the math chair, and could successfully find my own way to solve problems. as for preparation, i would say...buy the textbook and begin reading it now. worked for me in many different courses. 

"When my memory wanders, as it does when bad things happen, I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back. That day...You."

As an economist I recommend advanced algebra skills and a basic understanding of calculus.


"In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children"
~Title of Liberty 72 B.C. 
Well I sucked at Statistics, but as far as macroeconomics is concerned, college level algebra is sufficient for this. 

Thank God I'm an Atheist!!!
I want to meet a girl that likes me for my money, but doesn't really understand math. 
+1 The stats course sounds pretty basic and most macroecon courses don't require much beyond algebra and derivatives. I would urge your friend to get through a university calculus sequence. Its just good basic knowledge that can be very helpful in the real world or the academy. 


I took a statistics course last year and the least that you should have under your belt is geometry and advanced algebra. Without a good understanding in each of these courses, you will find the area of FST (fuctions, statistics, and trig.) quite difficult.
The above was written by my kid who took this in his sophmore year of High School. He is pretty damn good in math and really had some troubles with FST tho he pulled a high GPA out of it. 

I do not have a license to kill, but I do have a learner's permit.

I hate to say this, but whatever this is, it should be called "PreIntroduction to Basic Statistics" because, frankly, any half decent statistics course requires substantially more than just a good knowledge of algebra. This is just another one of those substitute "We can do it with Matlab/SPlus but not really know what we are talking about" courses... There is a reason why maths majors cannot take this. 


That sounds like an exceptionally easy stat course. Anyone should be able to take a intro macroecon course with no college level math (calculus).



IMHO, i dont think you need much math background for either of these courses. if the student can do well in chemistry, they will probably be able to do well in these courses.


Get your filthy squid hands off of my hinterland.  Crystal

At my school 3 semesters of calc are required for all the economic theory course, but no calc is required for entry level courses. This is all, of course, all at the undergraduate level. 


Interesting. At BYU you eat, breathe, and sleep calculus for any economics class beyond the 100 level. It was simply understood that to survive the economics courses, you had to know calculus. Believe me, as someone who struggles with calculus, it was a daily battle for me to survive the classes for graduation. 

"In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children"
~Title of Liberty 72 B.C. 
I should clarify. there are 2 courses at UT that require no calculus: Intro to Macro and Intro to Micro. After that the prerequisite is differential, integral, and multivariable. Some courses may require more. 


The part in red really means that it's an easy class.
Macro is cake. Plus in a 200 level econ there won't be an serious math.
Only very rudimentary algebra skills are needed. Here is my first google result for the search Algebra tutorial : www.wtamu.edu/academic/anns/mps/math/mathlab/beg_algebra/ I'm sure there are more.
There you've nailed it: anyone can do math  some people just have the bad fortune of having poor teachers. In fact , "math phobia" is a phenomenon almost exclusively limited to the United States, so I'd say that its more of a cultural thing than an intelligence thing. 


I appreciate the advice.
Some more background: The statistics course cited is part of the General Education requirements for just about ALL nonscientific or mathematical disciplines, meaning buisness majors, polisci majors, english majors, and even art majors. Based on that, I figure that the pocket protector quotient has to be pretty low, but I have never taken such a course so I don't know. I do know enough about college courses where ANY math is involved to tell the student to CAREFULLY pick their professor. Most professors I had on the topic couldn't teach. Period. I actually had one who told the class that he was not there to "teach" us, that was what the book was for.... Anyhoo, if the student wants to do a refresher on algebra, can you reccomend any books to help do this? I believe they have the raw intellectual horsepower to ace these classes, but without knowing some of the foundational principles it can make doing so dramatically harder than it needs to be. The classes I listed are part of a Public Administration major, and they are prerequisites to specific 300 and 400 level courses in that area. I would imagine that based on that they are more of a brief survey than in depth coverage, but one never knows... 

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.
George Washington 
Did you check the link I posted? Did you try a google search of your own? There's no need to buy a book. 


My macro classes were not very mathoriented, except in a limited way. They were more theory than anything else. Algebra I or II would see him through, I think.
Now the statistics class is something else. They usually are mathintensive, but in a practical way. You can see some USE for all that theory you had to learn in Algebra, trig, calculus, etc. Better go with the reccomendation in the book about prerequisites. 


The General Statistics class I took didn't need too much math. (Or at least I didn't think so.) I had come out of the engineering department and was taking it at a satellite facility. Most of the returning to school students seemed to be flummoxed all the time. If it is in fact a General Ed Stats class he should have no problems.


They can't hit an elephant at this diiiis  The late General John Sedgewick

Ooops... thought you said Meth people... I dunno...


"Nunchucks? No officer, these are my chopsticks. I'm a big eater."
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge"  Stephen Hawking 
Im graduating in May with a BA in Econ, Business school not Liberal Arts. For a 200 level statistics. It is very easy to get by with some Finite and Algebra, if you take it though the Math dept, Calc.
I would say the same for 100200 level Econ course, you might be able to skim by, but getting Calc for upper division course work is a must. 


At most schools algebra and graphing capability will be enough for Intro to Stats. I doubt the class will touch on calc at all, but a little matrix algenra might be useful. They used to teach matrix algebra in precalc classes.
For intro to macro all they need is algebra and graphing. Both these classes can be "weeder" courses at some universities and departments, but usually not. GunLvr 

"I'm not Fonda Hanoi John"

The stats class sounds really easy. I think he should be fine. As long as you have a good grasp of algebra concepts, can graph, use a graphing calculator, and understand the basic concepts, he should do well. There's not much to do in the way of preparing for it over the summer; basic stats is something you should be able to pick up during class. (IMO)
As for the intro econ, its alot of concepts and really really basic calculus. I can't say for sure, but I'm willing to bet the instructor will go over how to apply specific calc concepts in lecture. 


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