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3 months ago
Admissions Advice

How much will my math placement impact my admissions?
Answered

Hello!

I had applied to take Precalculus over the summer so that I would be able to take AP Calculus. However, I had received an email from my counselor that said that she could not approve the course because I had already advanced in another fundemental course in the past (algebra 1) and that my current grades in algebra 2 were not sufficient. Because of this, I have run into a bit of trouble. I was wondering if I should take AP Calc AB or AP Calc BC because now I only have room for one of the courses in my schedule (i'm part of the class of 2023 and will only have room for this in senior year). Additionally, a lot of the students at my school are really advanced in math and will be able to finish AP Calc AB, AP Calc BC, and AP Statistics by the time we graduate. Will this become detrimental to my college application/admissions in the future?

Thanks!

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3 answers

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Accepted Answer
3 months ago

Hey!

I was in the same situation as you earlier in highschool. If you are trying to go into some sort of STEM field such as physics or math, then it will be looked slightly frowned upon. However, if you aren't, then there is no reason to stress. If you have no interest in math itself, then there is no reason to push yourself beyond your capabilities just to impress college admissions officers. Guess what? Thousands of applicants are going to have AP Calc AP/BC on their transcript, so either way it wouldn't stand out. If you are dead set on AP Calc BC (which gives you a year-long Calc credit instead of a semester) then take first semester Calc between the summers of your junior and senior year, if allowed.

Hope this helped!

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3 months ago[edited]

Hey, great question! I do have a few friends who have had to pick between the same, so here's what information they have gathered.

AP Calc AB is an ideal starter, especially for a Calculus course out of all the maths. It provides strong foundation, and if it's year-long you're going to get a lot of practice which is very important moving forward, especially if you're planning to major in STEM. On the other hand, although Calc BC sounds like a course that feeds off of Calc AB, it really isn't. Most BC curriculums will cover what's needed for the AB test as well as additional topics, so it goes much faster, but is still a reasonable Calc course to take right after Precalc. It really does depend on the school though, but from some public schools near my area that's the information I've received.

If I had two years to spare, I would definitely take AB then BC. However, because of your time restraint, BC might be a better choice depending on your situation. I think if you are advanced in math at the level you are, having plans to take the entirety of Precalc over the summer, then you can probably manage BC. I would just keep your GPA in mind as well as projected AP exam score because, from my experience, getting a bad grade in a harder course always makes more negative impact than taking an easy one and acing it.

TL;DR: Take AP Calc BC if you are can pick up math pretty quickly and score well on the exam. It covers most if not all of AB, just at a faster pace.

Hope this was helpful!

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3 months ago

So in my mind there's no concern about what other classes your peers take but a lot of schools mandate precalc as a high school course so it more depends on whether your top schools require it. But lacking Calc wouldn't impact you as the only school that I know of that mandates it is Harvey Mudd not even Harvard requires it so you should be in good shape if you take precalc by graduation.

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