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Is AP Statistics Necessary?

  1. Jan 26, 2015 #1
    So I'm graduating this year and will be attending university to study physics and math. AP courses my school offers include AP Calculus and AP English. I did Calculus last year, and this year will be taking AP English. My school doesn't offer AP Chemistry, but (I live in British Columbia) our Chemistry 12 curriculum is very close to the AP Chemistry curriculum, so it's been arranged that I'll do the test individually. I particularly want to do AP Chemistry because the degree I'm looking at requires Chemistry 121 (UBC), which can be passed by doing AP Chemistry. This is just for the honor's degree, so I infer it's more of an academic nic-nak than it is important for a physics education. I also dislike chemistry school-work, and I would be repeating a large amount of the curriculum from Chemistry 12 this year already. The other AP course I've wanted to take this year is AP Statistics. My school doesn't offer it but I have planned to take it anyways.

    However I haven't actually studied statistics previously, and I've hardly begun on the work for studying for the test. I'm just doing the exam, and am studying through various online sources. This is unlike chemistry in which I have already studied most of it in class. Additionally I would probably enjoy a statistics class much more than a chemistry class, personally. The math isn't a concern since I've already done calculus (and a bit more in personal study).

    Is it really the end of the world if I take an extra class at university? Might it be better for my long term education if I just do my fundamental statistics in class? And plus, given my schedule/work/extra-curricular-activities it would be somewhat stressful to worry about doing another AP course outside of my schedule.

    Thoughts? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2015 #2


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    The AP Statistics course likely won't even take care of the stats requirement for a math major. It's a fairly basic course that utilizes little more than elementary algebra and arithmetic. Math majors typically have to take an upper level statistics course that utilizes calculus. If you're interested in it and it won't be too inconvenient, then it could be worth taking, but I personally wouldn't in your situation.

    On another note, chemistry isn't really an "academic nik-nak." Having a solid understanding of basic chemistry should be mandatory for someone studying physics. Physics and chemistry are very closely related fields. Many schools specifically require a general chemistry sequence for physics majors.
  4. Jan 31, 2015 #3


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    I agree with QuantumCurt that the AP stats course is not worth a lot. A few months ago I looked through the syllabus and was underwhelmed. It would not have satisfied the basic requirement I had as an electrical engineering major. Instead of studying for AP stats, your time may be better spent reviewing your calculus to prepare for university.
  5. Jan 31, 2015 #4
    Yeah. If you are going to a university where community college credits are transferable and you are not taking any math course this semester, I recommend you look into taking some community college courses.
  6. Jan 31, 2015 #5
    My personal opinion is that most AP courses in math and science aren't really worth much and you do yourself a disservice by skipping college courses. I can't even begin to count the number of students that have supposedly gotten AP credit for calc 1 and failed or dropped calc 2 then gone back and taken calc 1. My daughter got AP calc credit but is currently enrolled in calc 1. She says she's very glad she didn't skip it (she's very talented in mathematics).
  7. Jan 31, 2015 #6
    I disagree with alan2. Unless you are going to a school known for particular rigor in the lower division math/science courses (Caltech, for example), difficulty of university-level calculus courses compare to that of AP calculus, hence you receive the same credit. AP courses are great ways to get ahead of the curriculum, and also to save money. Taking the same course again is both a huge waste of time and money (with AP calc BC, you can receive 8 credit hours for $90. 8 credit hours at my university translates to around $5000 for in-state students). If grad school is your goal, I'd suspect that admission committees would rather like to see you getting an A in calculus III after skipping I and II with AP credit, rather than getting A+'s in I and II, simply because you took them before.
  8. Jan 31, 2015 #7
    An AP course is nowhere near the rigor of a freshman calc course playoff. It is rare that a student is successful after skipping courses if they need to know the material. As I said, I've seen them mostly fail for years. You are fortunate if you got that many credits. At University of Michigan you need a 5 on your AB exam or a 4 on your BC exam to skip one calc course and you only get 2 departmental credits. You need at least a 4 on the statistics exam to get departmental credit but you're not allowed to skip the intro course, you still have to take it. A 4 or 5 on either econ exam gets you 2 departmental credits but no credit towards the intro courses. You still have to take econ 101 and 102. They've all figured out, from experience, that those exams don't mean that you are proficient in the material. Skipping courses just to save time or money is a really bad idea if it's material that you need to know.
  9. Jan 31, 2015 #8
    I suppose the question is highly subjective. If you are willing to go above and beyond what AP calculus BC teaches you and the material you learned compares with the calculus sequence of the university you plan to attend, then there is no doubt that it is the better choice to skip them. If you think BC didn't prepare you enough for college-level mathematics, then of course it is better to retake them at the university.

    And it appears that at MU, a 5 skips you both calc I and II, 8 credits total: http://admissions.umich.edu/apply/freshmen-applicants/ap-ib-credit
  10. Feb 2, 2015 #9
    A 5 on the BC potentially places you into calc 3 playoff. But all of those are maximums subject to performance on the math placement exam which everyone takes regardless of prior preparation. My point is only that if you need to know the material then AP doesn't prepare you. If you don't really need to know the material then it's a great way to get credit and fulfill requirements.
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