Mercyhurst UniversityMath DeptDr Williams Home

Math 118 Mathematics for the Natural Sciences

Class Resources and Handouts

Algebra Review Worksheet
Algebra Review Worksheet Solutions

Course Information

Meeting Times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8:00 - 8:50 am
Location: Hirt 207
Office Hours: Monday 3-4, Tuesday 12-1:30, Thursday 8-9:30, Friday 9-11
Prerequisite: Minimum math placement score of at least 54 (or senior)

Course Description

This course has been designed for students who plan to take calculus but may be deficient in some aspects of their mathematical preparation. While many of the topics covered are similar to those covered in a typical college precalculus course, there is more emphasis on the application, a faster pace is maintained, and a greater depth of understanding is required. It is expected that students have taken intermediate algebra and precalculus prior to this class; as stated, this course is intended to fix deficiencies.


Upon successful completion of this course a student will be mathematically prepared to succeed in a college calculus course, and subsequent science courses. In particular, you will learn to:


To remain enrolled in this course, you must satisfy at least one of the following criteria: If none of these apply, you should make arrangements to take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment before the Add/Drop deadline. {\bfseries Students that do not meet the prerequisites by this deadline may be dropped from the course.} You will be contacted via email by the instructor reminding you to show proof of meeting prerequisites before any action is taken.

Required Materials

Precalculus Essentials, Fourth Edition, by Robert Blitzer, 4th Edition. Be sure to check the edition when purchasing your textbook; other editions have similar material, but the assigned problems may be different. No other materials are required for this class. You do NOT need to purchase a subscription to MyMathLab or pay to access any other online resources. You will not be expected to bring your textbook to class. If you prefer to purchase an electronic version of the text, you're welcome to do so.
You are not required to purchase a calculator for this course, and you will not be permitted to use a calculator or other electronic device on any quizzes or exams. You are strongly encouraged to avoid using a calculator while working on homework.


You will be given quizzes on the material regularly. Keeping up with the homework will ensure that you are prepared for the quizzes, which will feature problems very similar to those in the homework. The dates for quizzes is provided in the schedule below; note that exact topics covered on a quiz is subject to change if we are behind.

Quiz grades will not be based strictly on whether or not you found the correct answer. Your work must also be written clearly, and with proper notation, to receive full credit. Material from the quizzes will frequently appear on exams, so they are your best indicator of how well you are understanding the material before you take each exam.

Your lowest quiz grade will be dropped from your average, including any missed quizzes. Make up quizzes will only be given for excused absences. All make ups must be completed before the graded quiz is returned to the class; this will typically be the next class meeting.


There will be four midterm exams given throughout the semester, in addition to the final exam. The material on the exams will be similar to topics covered on quizzes and homework. You will be given review guides for each exam. All exams are cumulative; each exam will include some material from the previous exams. Mathematics is a cumulative effort, and mastering each topic is only possible if you have mastered earlier concepts. Use of notes, textbooks, calculators, electronic devices, or other materials will not be permitted during an exam.

If you need to miss class during a scheduled exam for a documented, excused reason (illness, family emergency, athletics), you will be able to make up the exam. You must schedule a time to retake any exam within one week of the day the exam was given in class.

Your lowest exam grade (including a missed exam) will be replaced by your final exam grade, if your final exam grade is better. A second missed exam will receive a grade of 0, so please check your schedules carefully and ensure that you can attend all exams.

Final Grades

Basis of Final Grade
Up to 500 points are available to earn throughout the semester, as follows:

300 points Midterm Exams
Four exams, 75 points each
Lowest exam grade replaced by final exam, if better
100 pointsQuizzes
11 quizzes, lowest quiz grade dropped
Each quiz worth 10 points, minimum 0.5/10 for attending quiz
100 points Final Exam
Grading Scale


Software, Videos, and Apps

Free Online Calculus Courses

Free Textbooks


The Department of Mathematics offers free tutoring for Math 118 students in Zurn 213. No appointments are needed, just drop by according to the schedule here. You are free to ask tutors questions on any assigned homework and exam review sheets.

Learning Differences

In keeping with college policy, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations must call Learning Differences Program secretary at 824-3017, to arrange a confidential appointment with the director of the Learning Differences Program during the first week of classes.

Mercy Mission

This course supports the mission of Mercyhurst University by creating students who are intellectually creative. Students will foster this creativity by: applying critical thinking and qualitative reasoning techniques to new disciplines; developing, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific ideas; and engaging in innovative problem solving strategies.


When we finish a section in the book, you should immediately begin working on the homework problems from the list below. Solutions to these problems are available on Blackboard. For additional practice, try similar odd-numbered problems (the answers to most of these are in the back of the textbook).

Your work will not be collected. However, actually working through these problems is the key to your success in this class. Attending every class is not enough; mathematics can only be learned through practice. You should plan to spend a significant amount of time on the homework. It is expected that you spend approximately 8-12 hours per week studying the material outside our class meetings, according the the typical 2-3 hour per credit rule of thumb.

Stay up to date with homework, and get help if you cannot understand a problem after trying it on your own. Do not ignore a problem that you are struggling with. If you are having trouble with a topic, please come talk to me during office hours, ask questions in class, seek help from a classmate, or go to the department tutors for assistance. You are expected to try to work on all problems on your own first; when coming to my office, be prepared to show me what you've already tried.