4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does it REALLY look better to have b's in honors and AP classes than A's in standard classes?

Hi! I went into sophomore year with a 4.0, taking 2 AP's and 2 Honors classes out of the 6 classes I am taking this year. Unfortunately, in honors math, I have an 84 and I don't see any possible way for it to go up in the next week or so when we technically have finals. I also have an 89 in AP Chemistry, which is quite dismaying to me because I have to take a final worth 20% of my grade next week and I'm really not sure how I am going to do in it. However, my main question is, should I continue with honors math classes and be able to say I took honors math and get B's than take regular math and get A's. Despite what colleges say about "wanting to see b's in honors classes over a's in standard classes," I'm aware that some universities use GPA as a cutoff in terms of applicants. My dream school is UMich, which I am aware is a fairly competitive school. I'm an in-state student, but I'm worried the way my GPA will look will completely overshadow my other accomplishments and strengths. The 2 B's I am bound to get just in this trimester I know will really impact my GPA, and I just don't know if it is worth it. How much do colleges care about GPA over the rigorousness of the class? I'm also debating over whether to drop Honors Algebra 2 after this tri because it has taken a major impact on my mental health, but I'm worried I'll have to explain it to an admissions officer or disadvantage myself by not continuing. What should I do? Thanks so much in advance!


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1 answer

4 years ago

In my opinion, it's always better to take the hardest most rigorous courses and get a B than take an easier class and get an A.

I have (1) B+ 89 on my transcript in Honors Algebra 2 like you that I got in my Sophomore year. At the time, I was despondent and angry because I tried so hard but I just couldn't get the A. My teacher didn't keep office hours and really was not a very teacher. He was not into his class so his class wasn't into him. But my dad told me to take Pre-Calc Junior year and ground it out and got an A before COVID-19. After Jr. year, I didn't want to take Calculus online at my HS school because it was going to be the same Algebra 2 teacher. So I found this online college program called Outlier (outlier.org) and they offer a 3 college credit Calculus course through U.Pittsburgh taught be 3 different profs. (MIT, Davidson, Univ. College London) and convinced my dad to do it over the summer for 7 weeks. It actually was the best math course I ever took and Calculus made more sense than Algebra 2. I didn't think I would be acing it but I end up with a 99 on the homework and a 93 average on the proctored tests. So now I have earned transferrable college credits and shown good evidence of intellectual vitality and thinking outside of the HS curriculum. Although I don't need to take AP Calc, I signed up for it just to see if I can get a 4 or 5 in Calc for my own self.

So the bottom line is that I proved to whoever reads my file that I'm great at math even though I have a slight ding on my Sophomore record. The other benefit is that regardless of whatever anyone says, taking higher maths gave me the confidence to get a 750 MATH and a 35 on my ACT so there is that added benefit as well. For my 12th grade math, I'm taking AP Stats and getting an easy A in that.

I'm sharing my personal experience, anguish, anxiety with you so you can learn from me. If I gave up and took easy maths, I probably wouldn't feel confident enough to apply to all the top schools. I'm not even a STEM major but an English major so regardless of what you decide to study in college, it's important to challenge yourself with the foundation core of a liberal arts education which includes Maths and Sciences.

Try your best for the finals and chalk it up to COVID-19, online learning, whatever you need to move forward, and focus on your future. Do not let a B or two, get in your way. You can not only make up for it in the future, but you can exceed expectations by doing better in harder classes.

Good Luck

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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