3 years ago
Admissions Advice

How Hard is Multivariable Calculus?

Hi. I am a rising senior, who took 7 AP courses in total. I took 4 AP courses in my junior year and got good scores. The school has recommended Multivariable Calculus from Johns Hopkins University (CTY Program) because I completed AP Calculus BC in 10th grade and took AP Statistics in 11th grade and I can't really "rest" and do nothing for 12th grade.

Anyway, I may also be taking 4 AP courses in my senior year (it could be 5 AP exams, if I include AP Chinese which I am deciding whether to self-study or not because I already took Mandarin 4 in 10th grade, but my school probably will not let me take 5 AP courses).

I was able to finish 4 AP courses in my junior year without Study Hall and managed to get good scores. However, I am a little worried about my senior year schedule since I have an additional college class (Multivariable Calculus) and I took AP Calculus BC in 10th grade, meaning I have forgotten a lot of Calculus.

I am currently reviewing AP Calculus BC (it's been 2 days). I hope to get it finished by mid-August, when I am actually starting Multivariable Calculus. Mathematics is one of my strongest courses, so I have never really had a huge problem with it, but now that I am taking an actual college course, including 4 AP courses or 5 AP courses (depending on the school's decision), I'm not sure. The course itself is only 3 months, and I'm aiming to get it done before applying to universities (I am applying to both U.S. universities and Korean universities, so the dates are different).

When I was a junior, I took 3 hard AP courses and 1 medium-level AP course without a Study Hall (2 of them were online courses without an actual teacher physically near me), so my parents believe that I will be able to manage it. I think I will be more confident if I didn't have to take Multivariable Calculus or if I chose easier AP courses for my senior year, but I did not choose easy courses (2 are easy AP courses and the other 2 I am thinking of are very hard ones).

If there is anyone who has taken Multivariable Calculus or know anyone who did, could you tell me a little more about it? Remember, I am strong in Mathematics compared to other subjects, but at the same time, I have AP courses to take, college applications to complete, and I took AP Calculus BC two years ago.


@marriness2 years ago [edited]

These equations tend to be harder to solve than ordinary differential equations. It has always been difficult for me to learn this. Mathematics is already a difficult science, and algebra even more so. Therefore, I often turned to https://plainmath.net/secondary/algebra/pre-algebra for help in order to find an answer to any pre algebra problems and get good grades. I won’t say that I liked it - I always loved literature more, and only my parents needed high marks.

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2 answers

a year ago

Hi, your profile is pretty cool and seems to portray a really hard-working individual. But may I ask where did you attend AP courses online? I have been looking for online AP courses but most of them are not that satisfactory. Thanks!

3 years ago

Hi! I took Multivariable Calculus last year—it was offered at my high school and not at a college, so keep in mind that my experience may differ compared to yours. In the course I took, we used a lot of integrals and derivatives; mostly basic stuff like power rule, sum/difference/product rule, chain rule, etc. Aside from that, we didn't use a lot of BC for the course. We did, however, learn the mathematical reasoning behind quite a few of the BC concepts (eg. finding volume of a 3D shape), which I really liked because it clarified some things from BC that I was still confused about. You also don't have to memorize nearly as much as you had to in BC or Statistics—we basically just learned new processes (that we had kind of been doing in BC but didn't know) and applied them in different ways.

Overall, the class wasn't "harder" than any other math class. What you learned was a progression from Calculus, but it wasn't harder to pick up and IMO was easier to understand and far more interesting than other years. It was my favorite math class I've taken so far and I highly recommend it! However, keep in mind that most people don't take Multi until college so you shouldn't be at a disadvantage if you choose to take it in college. Taking it now could be an advantage, though, if you can get credit for it (opens up more electives in college) or to give you a leg up if you take another Multi course in college.

In terms of workload: I took 4 APs senior year (Statistics, Physics C, Psychology, English Lit) in addition to Multi and found the workload manageable, but I also was doing school online so the workload was a bit different than normal years (fewer essays for English Lit, no in-person labs for Physics). If you really enjoy math, though, Multi problem sets may be a nice break from your writing-based homework.

I hope this helps, and best of luck with whatever choice you make!! Ask if you want me to clarify/answer anything else, I'd be happy to help :)

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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