I have a question on the difficulty of these two courses. I am HORRIBLE at math, but then these two courses are required for my major (Bizecon). I really want to get accepted into the major, but then I'm afraid these two classes will lower my GPA dramatically.
So how hard are these two classes at UCLA? Should I just take these two classes at a community college over the summer instead?
Math 31A focuses on limits and differentiation and from a broad perspective, perhaps the easier part of Calculus. Math31B is integration which is more difficult ... not as straight forward as Math31A and may require a bit of creativity to solve the integration problem. There are "straight integration tables" which can be helpful for Math31B. Depending on your professor, his problem set may follow these perscriptions and the class won't be that tough. Of course, there are instances in which some instructors will sneak in one or more problems requiring some creativity on your part.
If anything, what makes these classes tough is that you'll be enrolled with Math, Engineering and Pre-Med students .... the class becomes competitive. If your major allows you to take Math3A,3B ... then you won't have to compete with the technical majors.
A local JC is a good alternative ... check out assist.org to make sure that your JC credit will transfer properly to your specific major.
OP, as a side note you should definitely get one of the problem-solving guides for calculus when you take the class. They are thick books with thousands of worked problems that show you how to solve them. You cover up the 1st problem and try to solve it; if you got it, great! If not, read the soln. and then try the 2nd one... Repeat until you can do them on your own. Its not impossible to learn calculus
A bit of a warning: there are a lot of students who take Math 31A/31B even though they took AP Calculus AB/BC in high school, so that they can start freshman year with a 4.0 GPA since they'll get an easy A. This is more true among my pre-med friends, and should be considered by anyone who thinks it'll be easy to beat the curve.
To the original poster: if you really are "HORRIBLE" at math, you may want to reconsider biz-econ. There's a LOT of math involved on both the econ side (courses from econ 11 and up all require calculus knowledge) and the biz/accounting side (which isn't really calculus, but there's a lot of math regardless). You WILL need to be at least comfortable with calculus in order to do well in econ.
About the actual classes, I think if you found Calc AB easy in high school 31B won't be too bad. I got a 5 on the AB test and I found 31B to be pretty simple. My friend and I were in the same boat (5 on AB, biz-econ); we took 31B with different professors, and we both ended up with high A's. Neither of us are math geniuses or anything (I got a C in precalc in high school).
Advice: do all the assigned homework, regardless of whether or not your professor makes you hand it in. Also, try to figure things out yourself, and only go to people for help if you're really, really stuck. If you figure things out for yourself, you'll understand it much better.
OP, if you don't take it at a CC then I'd suggest not taking it 1st quarter at ucla.
Learning calculus is more like learning a foreign language than its like a history or poli-sci class. You don't read the vocab list once and then use the words effortlessly in conversation. It takes frequent (usually daily) practice. I think that's at the root of the problem some people have in math, they'll read a concept or formula, look at the worked-out example in the book, and then think they know it. It takes time doing the drills to get the stuff to sink in for most people (there's always some genius who CAN read it once and then has it, and all you can do is hate them).
And to continue the foreign-language analogy, if you skip even a few days of practice in a language all of a sudden it can become hard to even pass the class. The class is cumulative and the words you didn't learn last week are used in this weeks lesson with new tenses and so on added in. If you were lost last week, this one becomes even worse and catching up takes a huge effort. Same with math; everything is cumulative and if you don't stay current the teacher might as well be speaking greek instead of just writing greek letters on the board.
So the reason I say don't take it 1st quarter is that will be a big time of adjustment. You'll be making new friends, enjoying being away at college, and not used to the pace of the quarter system. With only 10 weeks of instruction (less than 9, really, once you take into account dead week and a few holidays) the pace is quick. Quicker than you expect, even though everyone tells you it's fast. Since you're not in a science major where you need to jump into the math/physics/chem classes right away to stay on track, you have the flexibility to put it off a quarter or two until you're adjusted to college.