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10 months ago
Admissions Advice

AP Course grade for college admission
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I have a question about AP Calculus. The current grade of the candidate in 11th grade is D+. The school is offering a pass/fail grade due to the difficult learning situation because of Covid. If this option is selected and a pass is obtained will that negatively affect college admission for computer science at a premier university. Thanks

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Accepted Answer
10 months ago[edited]

So this is a difficult question to answer because in most cases a D+ is a passing grade.

Yes, your client or child can accept the Pass knowing that he/she/them just dodged a bullet for AP Calculus.

But there are 3 parts to this story and I'll explain.

Part 2

Most students who enroll in AP classes take them for 2 reasons a.) to show course rigor and b.) to evidence and memorialize their achievement in mastering the material by getting a passing grade on their AP Exam, either a 3, 4, or 5. If you take AP Calculus in 11th grade and do not take the AP exam, that's suspect. If you take the AP exam and get a non-passing grade of 1 and 2 and choose not to report it, that is also suspect. If you get a 3 and report it while you are applying for CS at a top school, that doesn't look good either. So there are only 2 scores that these Admission Officers want to see on your AP Calculus exam, a 4 or preferably a 5. (Some people might think taking SAT II Math Level 2 would show evidence of mastery but that's not true, there is very little Calculus on the exam, mostly Algebra, Geometry, some Trig and Pre-Calc.)

Part 3

If your client/child gets into a Top college for CS and he hasn't mastered Calculus, then this will make life difficult for himself because he will not be comfortable with Calculus, and be even less comfortable taking higher maths like Differential Equations, Multivariable Algebra, Real Analysis, Stochastic Processes and so forth and so on. Not to be excellent at Math is a curse no one wants if you are majoring in Computer Science. You can fake it for only a very short time. So yes, you can take a Pass in AP Calc. but it comes at a cost. And at some point, the most responsible thing to do is to master the material. Once you master calculus, you don't have to deal with imposter syndrome and the possibility that your success at college is at risk for skipping this important class.

I'm not a math genius but similarly, I didn't like how math was taught at my HS. In 11th grade, I took Pre-Calc and got an A-. I dreaded having to take AP Calculus so the summer after Jr. year, I searched for a solution. I decided to enroll in Outlierg.Org Calculus I which is a college course taught by MIT, Davidson, and Univ. London professors online using a self-paced format. It was 7 weeks and I did Calculus like 5-6 hours a day and completed the full year's worth of AP Calc and got an A and 3 college credits. I'm still signed up for the May 2021 AP Calc exam as well because even though I have already earned my college credits I wanted to prove to myself that I could get a 4 or 5 on the actual AP exam. Getting a 5 will help me place out of Calculus in college or allow me to skip into higher math when I start Freshman year if that makes sense. And to put things into context, I'm going to be an English or Political Science or Gender Studies major, not a STEM major.

In conclusion, you can't avoid math. You can either pay now or pay later but you can't avoid paying.

I hope this explanation helps you.

(By the way, I would highly recommend that he/she/them not continue AP Calc Spring Semester but take the Outlier course instead and then take the AP Exam and shoot for a 5. If they continue with AP Calc, they will most likely not improve. I think the Course registration is only 1 day away so act quickly. I know this because I just signed up for my 3rd outlier course in Philosophy.)

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