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Schools College calculus vs AP Calc AB

  • Thread starter fifaking7
  • Start date
Hi guys,
I'm deciding a career in the biological sciences but will need calculus 1 and II. knowing that many of you are probably in college or in your fields, I want to know how similar Calc 1 and college calc are. I'm really bad at Calc this year, currently with a B- and want to know how much harder was calc 1 for you?
It really depends on the college. I believe AP calculus is "tougher" than the community college version. On the other hand, a 4 year university version tends to be more tougher than the others.

My observation is based on a sample of 1 CC, 2 APs and 1 Univ calc 1 courses.
I'm taking about a top ranked 4 year university. Does it help significantly if you have ap experience?


I think studying for the AP Calc AB test in high school was very easy because it was my only 'real' concern. Once you get to college, your studies start competing more. A typical first and second semester for a student in the sciences can be quite rigorous and require LOTS of work for every class.

For that reason I think Calc high school courses are easier than college courses (of any type). Put in a vacuum - I think there are a lot of variables to consider as to which is tougher. In college - you just have competing rigorous classes, which I think for most is the dominant factor for making some classes 'harder'.


Education Advisor
I'll also like to add this. The real advantage to AP Calculus in high school is that you can absolutely fail that exam and still pass the test. It's really stupid how that works, but it is what it is.

Of course it will help you if you took calc in high school because taking it in college. You've already been exposed to the problems and know the ideas that will be used. As a biology major (or focus or whatever) you won't have the horror of taking a proof based calc course, but rather just a tedious one. It will all seem very familiar to you.
I hope that I can get at least an A- in the class when I go to college. I didn't do so well first half of my first semester 82/100 but I'm improving in my mind coming from a math class that was not honors
Math was the only subject I did well on when I first attending school. I took AP Calculus in high school and then again a few years later because I took a few years off. I earned A's both times, however, I felt it was more difficult in college (even though I was essentially relearning the material) simply because of what Mege said: it's no longer your only "real" concern.

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