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High School Mathematics

  1. May 8, 2012 #1
    Hello,

    I am a junior in high school with the intention of double majoring in physics and neuroscience, if possible. I have taken AP Calculus AB this year (I skipped Pre-Calculus, as I saw it as a waste of year) and I managed to pull off a 98. Next year, I will take AP Calculus BC and concentrate on BC topics in the first semester and review for the whole test the second semester, as I would be ahead of my peers and wouldn't need to follow the same syllabus.

    But my question is: after high school, with two years of exposure to (AP) calculus "under my belt," could I go into college and start multivariable calculus in my freshman year?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2012 #2

    jtbell

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    It depends on whether the college gives you credit for the AP courses in place of their Calculus I and II. That depends on how well you do on the AP exams, and on the college's policies for such credit.
     
  4. May 8, 2012 #3
    I took Calculus at the local junior college when I was in high school, then I chose to retake it from the beginning when I went to college. I think I made the right decision. Calculus is the absolute bedrock foundation of physics and engineering, and it will save you a lot of pain in your future to have as firm a grasp as possible of it. So, my advice would be to take it again, and give it your FULL attention, even if it seems easy. (you can get an A without really learning it fully, so make sure you understand it to your own standards, don't let good grades fool you into thinking you've really mastered something)

    Don't worry about it "taking too much time". Being fully conversant in Calculus will make such a difference in your career that it is more than worth it.
     
  5. May 8, 2012 #4
    Thank you for the replies. I guess getting an easy A in calc I/II rather than struggling with a C or B in multivar is better.
     
  6. May 8, 2012 #5
    I haven't done AP but my understanding is that it's not very differe nt from other high school level calculus courses, like those in A-Levels and IB. If that's the case, I think you're better off taking calculus at a community college. I could be wrong but I think it's an avenue worth exploring. Try comparing the calculus notes and homework exercises on a college-level Calc 1 course and see for yourself! (say, MIT's 18.01 - *not* the "with theory" variant)
     
  7. May 8, 2012 #6
    Mepris, I actually have printed the all 5 units from the MIT OCW for Single Variable Calculus (18.01) and I have been studying that along with my class notes so I can better understand the concept. Additionally, I plan on taking calculus I or II, probably calculus II, at a community college this summer to better prepare myself for next year's AP BC exam.
     
  8. May 8, 2012 #7

    jtbell

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    Keep in mind that the main point of AP courses is that they give you a chance to get college credit for them, if you do well enough on the AP exams. If you take Calculus I and II at a community college, you should be able to transfer those credits to most any college you end up attending (well, maybe not someplace like MIT :wink:), which makes AP credit redundant.
     
  9. May 8, 2012 #8
    But I would take the class at a community college just so I can have more experience and better understand the concepts, and if a college does not accept the AP scores, then I would just transfer those credits.
     
  10. May 8, 2012 #9
    I don't understand the appeal of the AP at all when students can enroll in a nearby community college or 4-year college to take courses while in high school. I don't like high school calculus because it's not (again, not sure about the AP but I haven't heard good thing about it) as well presented as a college calculus course is and leaves one with too many gaps in their knowledge, which is a rather frustrating situation to be in if one wants to do math or any quantitative discipline at college.

    Actually, MIT do give some credits for AP/A-Level/IB/French Baccalaureate/etc for math, but for math alone. It doesn't work the same way for other intro subjects but one can attempt to test ouf of them if they feel so inclined.
     
  11. May 8, 2012 #10
    no so..take as much math as you can.....the more the better if you like it you'll likely do well. Taking some extra math as electives and/or at summer school can open the door to a dual degree....as in physics and math, for example.....
     
  12. May 8, 2012 #11

    jtbell

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    You have to pay tuition at a community college, whereas the high school courses are free (at least if it's at a public school). Also, it may be a hassle to mesh community college class schedules with high school schedules (during the academic year) or with work or travel (during the summer).
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  13. May 8, 2012 #12
    I hear this type of thing all the time (in terms of recommendation) to retake it in college. Unless the course at your college actually takes a different route than the one presented in AP calculus (which is a stretch for engineering majors), you will gain absolutely nothing by retaking it. You'll be sitting there bored out of your mind and wasting time. So you should probably move on to multi-variable calculus, which is almost the same thing as single-variable calculus (from the viewpoint of engineers), if your college accepts your AP credit.

    You can retake it if there is an honors calculus course more focused on theory or application (as opposed to mechanical application) or if you can find a calculus course in the math department with such focuses.
     
  14. May 8, 2012 #13
    I agree with this entirely. Unless there is a proof based calc I/II, pass on retaking.
     
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