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As an aspiring Physics major, should I use the AP credit granted for Calculus BC?

  1. Dec 16, 2008 #1
    Yeah I know I've asked about the Physics AP tests, but how about Calclulus BC (obviously, if I got a 5)?

    I don't plan on doing theoretical physics in the future, just FYI.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2008 #2
    I say use your AP Calc credit.
    I only took the Calc AB test and I received credit for Calc 1 at an engineering school.. they still wanted me to take the course, but I think they just want to generate more revenue for the school. I think you'll be alright using the credit, it'll save you money in the long run.
  4. Dec 16, 2008 #3
    Agreed. They know how far their calc courses go. If the school deems a Calc BC test as being worth one of their classes, then that means you know the material from one of their classes and taking the class is pointless.
  5. Dec 16, 2008 #4
    I know a few people who didn't take the credit, and they resent being in Calc 1 now.
  6. Dec 17, 2008 #5
    You'd gain a deeper understanding of calculus if you do retake the sequence. Especially if you take an honors sequence. Generally speaking, most high school calculus classes aren't as in depth as calculus at university.

    However, that being said, I'd recommend taking the credit. You will develop that extra sophistication along the way, and by starting out in multivariable calc and/or linear algebra freshman year, you'll open the opportunity to take a couple more upper division courses, such as real/complex analysis, PDE's, etc.

    Unless your school has a stellar honors calculus sequence (Harvard, etc) I'd recommend taking the credit.
  7. Dec 17, 2008 #6
    Here is my note on AP credits:
    I am personally against taking AP tests to surge ahead in your field of interest or related fields. In my day, you took AP tests to receive credit for subjects that you didn't want to major in (in my case, I received AP credit for history and English, leaving me more time so I could take almost all the upper level electives in math, physics and chemistry... even though I started my physics major a term late). I'd also personally suggest being a term ahead in the calculus sequence than where you are in the physics sequence (if you are ever interested in taking calculus-based physics).

    So: I think that moving too fast in mathematics is a huge mistake. I actually took all of first year calculus in HS... but they didn't tell us that (instead naming the course "math V").... so I started fresh at the university and was rather bored. Add to this the fact that I declared my physics major late (started as a chem major). The result of these two factors placed me a term or two ahead in mathematics versus physics... setting me up perfectly for MANY courses. (i.e. I had Calc II before Physics II / basic EM) and had taken PDE's/Boundary Value Problems before Intermediate E&M, Quantum and Mechanics.

    Note: Even with starting math from scratch (perhaps unnecessarily), I still had time for all the advanced courses that interested me in math (including real and complex analysis), physics (including optics and lots of research), and chemistry (including two terms of basic organic chem and also the advanced inorganic course). I was aided a bit by skipping some intermediate courses known to be "holding tanks" for advanced courses, and by the ability to take more than 18 credits with no added tuition via an honor privilege. :biggrin: (At least one term I took 22 credits with 3 lab courses.)

    This opinion stated, here's the best thing you can do: Inquire with the math department (or the book store) as to the text that is used in the course that the AP credit would fill.... then find a copy and look through it to see if you know the material with that rigor.
  8. Dec 17, 2008 #7


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    If you school offers a proof based honors freshman sequence, take that. If not, take analysis as soon as possible.
  9. Dec 17, 2008 #8
    Lot of bold statements there physics girl phd. Literally, you made a lot of those statements bold.

    And some of what you are saying conflicts with each other. A paradox, if you are so inclined.

    In order to prevent heavy strain over a loaded schedule, starting ahead in math helps, like you said, you were glad that you'd had some advanced math before certain advanced physics courses.

    Taking over 18 hours or 22 hours makes life a living hell and really detracts from the whole college experience. I'm not saying college should be a cake walk of course, but it shouldn't cause you to have white hair before the age of 25 either.

    :bold: :biggrin:
  10. Dec 18, 2008 #9
    Note: I did use use bold to only to highlight the main point of each paragraph, and ONE word. Much less than you did, and in a more clear manner (because it wasn't every other word). Why? because I personally find reading online with no bold or emoticons difficult. In this case I didn't think emoticons were appropriate. Do you have another suggestion? Italic??

    -- I still enjoyed my college life (still in contact with two of my three best friends, and at the time, I had time to do things like go ice-skating with them off campus),
    -- I did well enough to be accepted to a well-ranked Ph.D. program (when I was there, a few people even chose it over Harvard, MIT, etc.)
    -- I'm well over 25 (in my mid-thirties)
    and I still don't have a single gray hair.

    Add to this:
    -- an unapproved husband (unapproved because my Mom's a bit of a religious nut -- we eloped)
    -- two step-kids (one of whom has highly involved disabilities and uses a wheelchair, the other is diagnosed ADHD, more "normal" though still needy)
    -- a lesser job than I'd like at an institution that failing apart due to administrative problems and budget woes (the job and institution wouldn't be my first picks, but that was a compromise due to the husband's job, though I've still secured some research funds and have held my own),
    -- a somewhat unanticipated pregnancy (it's one thing to talk about how nice it would be to have a girl, then it's another thing throw caution to the wind and perhaps have one on the way). :surprised
    Not ONE gray hair! yippie! (Add to this that probably genetics would work against me... my mother started graying at 19.)

    I will concede :biggrin:, however, that there might be a small anomaly in saying that you should be ahead in math but shouldn't be using AP credits to get math credit... so there I'll hold with what I said was best advice: "Get the text they use at the institution in question, and see if you have mastery of the material in that text."

    And to end, I'll refresh my original points:
    -- It is not true that students don't have time (in four years) to take all upper level classes, even if the sequences are started fresh or even late (though I endorse you should not slack in mathematics).
    -- It is true that a lot of students do poorly when they use AP credit to get college credit (in their major or a related field)... resulting in frustration and a change in major.
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