26 days ago
Admissions Advice

I'm wondering if it's worth it to take AP Calc AB

Right now I'm taking honors precalc(I'm a sophmore)and I almost got a C last quarter(ended with a B though) although I am doing a lot better this quarter. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to take AP Calc AB next year, because I'm definitely improving at math and will have a much better grasp of it by next year. The other issue is that my school makes me take AP Art History, AP Language, and AP world history due to this program I'm in, and I'm also going to be taking AP computer science next year, honors physics, and a comp sci class. This is a challenging workload so I'm wondering if AP Calc AB moves at the same relative pace as Honors Precalc, or if it's faster, because then I don't want to risk it. If I do risk it and fail though, my counselor said its possible to drop in calculus with applications, so I'm wondering if it will overall be worth it to even try, or that will hurt my application too much.

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5 answers

Accepted Answer
26 days ago

Here is my opinion. You probably are not actually bad at math, and I am sure you will be able to handle Calculus. Pre-calc, espeicially honors pre-calc, goes through a wide variety of unrelated, and rigorous topics. These topics are covered within a week or two compared to a normal class which would take a month and go 70% as in-depth. Pre-calc is difficult and takes time to adjust to. AB Calc will have tricky parts but if you look ahead at the material before you get there it will be much easier. The best thing you can do if you are worried is learn what a derivative is and its applications now -- this will also help you in physics.

Your junior year will be hard. I think trying to push yourself is good though. AB Calc will be enjoyable and you will have friends in similar classes to help get you through the year.

26 days ago

I offer an alternative solution that I did after Pre-Calc. I didn't want to have a super stressed senior year so I took College Calculus on outlier.org and it was much better than taking a HS AP because I had 3 teachers and they had 3 different teaching styles. Since it was self-paced I could login and watch the lectures and to the homework any time I wanted to. There were some weekly quizzes and 2 big tests. I managed a 94 and I'm not the strongest math student. I received an A in the class and 3 college credits from UPitt who does the back office management of the portal. To me it was the best $400 I ever spent. And I think they are running a 20% deal right now.

Good luck.

26 days ago[edited]

I'm in AP Calc right now and I'm actually kind of enjoying it, however, the course load is huge and it definitely takes a lot of commitment. It will take even more work if math isn't your strong suit or if you have other difficult classes. Based on what you've said I think I'd recommend not taking it (it's hard to commit to that much extra work ON TOP of the rigor of four other AP courses) UNLESS you are willing to sacrifice every afternoon doing homework/studying. That being said, I think it would actually be MORE beneficial for you to drop the class and spend some of the time it would have taken on extracurriculars or even a job because that will keep your time more balanced, eliminate stress, and still help you progress towards college.

On the other hand.......

AP Calculus itself isn't too difficult, (it's just a wide spread of different topics that you learn throughout the year, so they don't really get progressively harder), and for me, the hardest part is just in applying those Precalc concepts, so if you're already committed to learning Precalc well this year, then you might as well take Calc next year.

I'll leave the choice to you!

22 days ago

Hi @Robopi314! Your junior year seems pretty packed with AP classes, so I encourage you to think about if you will have the capacity to study for another AP class like AP Calc AB. Like @ChrisZovko said, Honors Precalculus goes through a lot of difficult concepts so your performance in that class may not necessarily correlate with your performance in AP Calc AB. That being said, if math has never been your strong suit, adding an AP math class into your schedule may make your schedule more stressful.

If you ultimately plan on taking AP Calc AB next year, spend your summer learning some of the intro topics to get a head start. Check out Khan Academy for some great resources: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/ap-calculus-ab

Hope that helps!

25 days ago

I was stuck in a similar situation deciding whether to take AP Literature or AP Calc AB and decided to take AP Calc AB. The class is difficult but if it is something you want to do it is helpful. I kind of wish I had taken AP Literature instead just because I am taking a lot of STEM classes this year, but I still enjoy calc. I took pre-calc during covid-remote school so I cannot speak to it exactly but I feel like AP Calc moves faster than honors pre-calc but as I said there are many different variables. Also it depends on the teacher you get. Best of luck!


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