Top critical review
47 people found this helpful
Book expects too much from the reader
on August 9, 2011
I want to preface this review by saying that I scored 750 in math on the SATs, and consistently got excellent grades in math throughout high school. I'm not trying to brag, I just want it to be clear that this is not the review of someone without any math background.
I last took math in high school six years ago, and needed to brush up on precalculus for a premed math placement exam. I read the reviews, and thought it looked perfect as a review of material I'd already covered in high school to get ready for a test demonstrating that I'm ready to take calculus. I was impressed by the clear language and distillation of information that the book provided. I've never understood until now exactly *why* the angles in a triangle add up to 180 degrees, though I'd used that fact countless times in my studies.
When I got to the problem sets, however, I felt stumped. I'm able to do about half the problems using the information provided in the text. The other half, however, require a knowledge of precalculus that would seem to make this book unnecessary. I managed to find information to solve some of these problems online, but with others I was left wondering where to begin, rereading the text as though I might find some fact I had overlooked. The written material is very useful at distilling big ideas into comprehensible words and pictures, but I found the problem sets lacking in helpful context. Most of the problems offered no explanation as to how they could be solved.
I get that the book says "in a nutshell" in the title. Caveat emptor. I don't blame George F. Simmons for my difficulty with his book, but I personally found the problem sets very confusing, and the text of little use for solving many of them.