The 10 Best Precalculus Textbooks
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in February of 2019. The great thing about math is that, just when you think it's as hard as it can possibly be, it manages to find a way to be even more difficult. While we can't help you with every step of your academic career, we can take some of the sting out of your precalculus classes with these textbooks. They spell out the material in clear, easy-to-understand ways, serving to demystify the subject - somewhat. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 30, 2020:
The biggest consideration this time around was who exactly is buying these textbooks? There are four main consumers: students, teachers, homeschool parents, and self-guided learners. Students are generally forced to get whatever book their professor recommends, so unfortunately they lack a lot of choice. Teachers and professors have an advantage with this material in that they can supplement the instruction, meaning their primary concern should be how many problem sets there are, and how easy it will be for their students to understand those problems. That's why Pearson Precalculus has been added, and why Miller's Precalculus is hanging on.
For homeschool parents and self-guided learners, the biggest challenge is connecting with the material. Coburn's Precalculus has been removed because it's simply too dry, and tough to get through without an instructor. Blitzer's Precalculus, on the other hand, is given preference over other texts because it deals with real-world examples, so you won't always be asking yourself, "Why do I need to know this?"
The top four choices are all textbooks that can appeal to each of the aforementioned groups. They're often used in high school and college classes, which is great if you want to keep up with a standard course. They're also clear while covering difficult concepts, and include a wealth of practice problems. Precalculus: The Art of Problem Solving retains the top spot because, in addition to all these benefits, it's also reasonably priced, unlike some textbooks that are out of many people's range.
March 18, 2019:
While the math might be basically the same in all these books, that doesn't mean they all take the same approach or are all intended for the same audience. Some, like Miller's Precalculus, are aimed at students who might be overwhelmed by the material, especially if they lack a firm grasp of the prerequisites. Others, like Larson's Precalculus, are more geared to students who are looking to advance in mathematics and require a challenge. Sullivan's Precalculus is a nice middle-of-the-road solution, as it pushes learners to prepare themselves for more difficult material while also gently forcing them to brush up on things they should already know.
Class Central Learning by yourself is tough, because you have to stay motivated. If textbooks seem too boring to you, consider an online course where an instructor can walk you through the basics and help you evaluate exactly where you're at on your educational journey. classcentral.com