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High School Calculus

  1. Apr 18, 2008 #1
    I am only a freshman in high school,so i know i have a lot of time to think, but i was thinking about studying physics or astro physics in college. However, I am good at math, but not amazing. This year i am taking geometry, as a sophmore i will take algebra 2, as a junior i will take pre-calculus. Here is my real question, should I take AP calculus in high school (there is no regular calculus) or should I wait until college?

    Also, is there any books that you would recomend for physics reading, and are there any books you would recomend for math self-teeaching?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2008 #2
    You will learn everything in a high-school calculus class that you would in a college calculus class. That said, I found university calculus to be much, much harder than high-school calculus. I never did homework in high-school, slept through class and got an A in calculus BC. I took college calculus so I could start off with an A, and I made a C in calc I! High-school calculus is great, but you will get out of it as much as you put into it. As cliche as it sounds, hard work pays off. This is a lesson you will be much better off to learn in high school than in college.

    And personally I think the Feynman lectures on physics are excellent books, but they may be a bit beyond your mathematical level at this point. I'm not sure what would be a good, non-calculus physics book. Perhaps you could ask at the school?
  4. Apr 18, 2008 #3
    I was in your exact situation when I was a freshman, and believe me, you definetly SHOULD take AP Calculus. I slacked off and now I'm a senior in Calculus 1 regular(and breezing through it), and believe me, I completely regret not pushing myself so I could take AP. Even try to take some college calculus at a local community college if at all possible. Anything to introduce yourself to it before college.
  5. Apr 18, 2008 #4


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    My experience was very similar, though I only took Calc AB in high school, and I didn't blame my difficulty in college calculus on high school being too easy so much as my own expectations that I was going to coast through without studying since I had done so well in high school calc. If you don't make my mistake of being overly arrogant/confident that your high school course is going to adequately prepare you for college, then every little bit extra you learn in high school can only help you understand stuff better in college.
  6. Apr 18, 2008 #5
    I took Calc BC in high school and it prepared me well for multivariable calculus. I actually got to skip out of the first two quarters of calculus at my school (which I assume to be not very rigorous, otherwise they wouldn't let so many people skip). Some of my classmates, however, claim that it did not prepare them for college calculus, but they did not score a 5 on the AP exam or put in as much work as I did. I agree with the other responses: you get what you put into it.
  7. Apr 18, 2008 #6
    What I am afraid of though is that the college that I go to will not allow me to retake calc 1
  8. Apr 19, 2008 #7
    I have friends that got 5s(AP) and ended up with Cs and Bs. Really, highschool doesn't prep at all. I never even took calculus in highschool and I get A's in college. The reason being, highschool only requires regurgitation of formulas( i.e take derivative this, take integral that etc). I college you are required to understand the concepts and apply them( proofs, science applications etc.) So the only advantage of taking highschool Calc is that you already know the basic formulas whereas someone else who didn't won't. But really, how long does it take to learn a couple of formulas? Five, ten minutes?

    hmm good books. https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Michael-Spivak/dp/0914098896 (very hard, wait until senior yr and use this in conjuction with HS calc)




    Thats about all that I can think of.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  9. Apr 19, 2008 #8
    Better to suffer a little now so you could have an easier time in college and hence a better gpa.
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