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The first derivative test is the tool you use to test the potential critical points of a function to see whether or not they are actually critical points. You can use the first derivative test to describe the behavior of the function on either side of the critical point. Or, to put it another way, you can use the first derivative test to say whether the function is increasing or decreasing on either side of the critical point.
If you can use the first derivative test to show that the function is increasing on one side of the critical point and decreasing on the other, then by the first derivative test you've proven that the potential critical point is an actual critical point, and therefore that the function has at least a local maximum or local minimum there, if not a global maximum or global minimum.
In order to use the first derivative test, pick values on either side of the critical point, and plug them into the first derivative of the function. If the result is positive, then the function is increasing on that side of the critical point. On the other hand, if the result is negative, then the function is decreasing on that side of the critical point.
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Hi, I’m Krista! I make math courses to keep you from banging your head against the wall. ;)
Math class was always so frustrating for me. I’d go to a class, spend hours on homework, and three days later have an “Ah-ha!” moment about how the problems worked that could have slashed my homework time in half. I’d think, “WHY didn’t my teacher just tell me this in the first place?!”
So I started tutoring to keep other people out of the same aggravating, time-sucking cycle. Since then, I’ve recorded tons of videos and written out cheat-sheet style notes and formula sheets to help every math student—from basic middle school classes to advanced college calculus—figure out what’s going on, understand the important concepts, and pass their classes, once and for all. Interested in getting help? Learn more here: http://www.kristakingmath.com
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