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Admissions: AP Statistics or AP Calculus AB?

snowyowlsnowyowl Posts: 9Registered User New Member
edited March 2011 in College Admissions
Hello collegeconfidential users! *waves hello*

A rising senior, I'm in the midst of applying for next year's classes. I'm requesting a pretty rigorous course load, including two English classes (AP Literature and Composition and honors Humanities), honors Economics/AP Government, and either AP Psychology or WWII/Vietnam Conflict. (Just for clarification, I have more than the required amount of science credits, so I'm not taking a science next year.) However, I'm not sure what I want to do about math. I'm torn between taking AP Calculus AB or AP Statistics.

There are several reasons why I'd like to take stats. Even though I've managed to get As in almost all of my high school math classes (except first semester of freshman year), math has always been a struggle for me. As you might be able to tell from my schedule requests, I'm an English and history nerd instead! A lot of people say AP Statistics is an easier class than AP Calculus, which definitely makes it seem attractive to me. I've also heard that stats is more practical - even though I don't plan on majoring in math or entering a math-related field. Finally, I have the teacher who teaches calculus this year for my trig/pre-calc class, and I don't really understand his lectures. His teaching style just doesn't make sense to me. I know that sounds sort of lame, but I don't want to struggle all year on what seems a very complex subject. :/

There are reasons for me wanting to take calc, too. I've heard that because statistics is an "easy AP," colleges look frown upon it on transcripts. I'm planning on applying to some selective and highly selective colleges, so I'm worried that if I take statistics instead of calc, it will hinder my chances of getting accepted. But I'm hoping that if I take all the aforementioned challenging classes and make my interests known to them (two English and two social studies classes) on my transcript, it will be okay. What do you think?

I won't have room in my schedule for both calculus and statistics.

Help? D:

(I'm sorry if this is in the wrong forum! Mods, please feel free to move it.)
Post edited by snowyowl on

Replies to: Admissions: AP Statistics or AP Calculus AB?

  • PancakedPancaked Posts: 2,877Registered User Senior Member
    For admission, AP Calculus.
    For you, probably AP Statistics.
    For the record, AP Calculus AB isn't that difficult. Stats is easier though.

    AP Statistics certainly won't be frowned upon. It's the lack of calculus that may be a little questionable. For someone going into a major that has NOTHING to do with mathematics, it's not a big deal. But AP Calc always looks better than no AP Calc.

    By the way, for someone not going into anything math related, statistics is just as non-practical as calculus. It may sound practical, because everyone sees "statistics" all the time, but what you lean in that class is not practical, unless you're going to spend your life taking surveys and analyzing data. In fact, calculus is probably more practical, even for a non-math major.

    Anyways.
  • h2olovrh2olovr Posts: 59Registered User Junior Member
    Hi -- I'm in a Calc class now that just finished up the Calc 1 portion of the class. (Our class isn't really BC because we all take the AB AP exam, but it's technically two UConn classes, Calc 1 & Calc 2. The reason we don't take the BC exam is because we go right up to the end of the year learning Calc 2, not in time for the AP exam.)
    Honestly, I am not the "math person" either really. Actually, sounds like you and I are on similar wavelengths when it comes to our strengths in school. Although I am probably 'above average' at math, I am way better with social sciences and humanities. And, that being said, I would encourage you to take Calc. I really really have not found it (Calc 1) to be excessively difficult. But of course, only you, your parents, and your teachers/guidance counselor can truly gauge what's right for you. Good luck!
  • sherpasherpa Posts: 2,692Registered User Senior Member
    I just read post #2 above, written by Pancaked. Pancaked nailed it; I agree 100%.

    If you don't like the Calc teacher, go ahead, take Stats, and don't look back.

    Good luck.
  • theRADtomato47theRADtomato47 Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
    ^true, but you will probably have to calc 1 in college regardless(correct me if im wrong). Man you guys are lucky. At my school, AP Stats is the hardest class available. It's taught by this one former Cal tech professor. Y would a Cal tech professor leave Cal tech for a ghetto public school like mine? nobody knows. the null hypothesis is that he got fired. (stats inference) Go stats, you seem like you want to anyway. Always trust your gut because most of the time its right :)
  • wisefallenwisefallen Posts: 27Registered User New Member
    Exactly what Pancaked said. He's exactly right.

    And for the record AP Stats is so so so so much easier than AP Calc (BC at least). Like 4th grade math easy haha.
  • charlieschmcharlieschm Posts: 4,282Registered User Senior Member
    If you have no interest in a possible engineering, math-based or science major, take Stats. Calc would be a waste of brain power, that would better used for your other AP classes.
  • jessicadnguyenjessicadnguyen Posts: 19Registered User New Member
    AP Calculus isn't all that hard but considering that you already have a lot of other AP classes and since you don't really care for math, AP Statistics might be the better choice. AP Stats is A LOT easier than AP Calculus so you probably wouldn't have to devote as much time to that class as you would to your other AP classes.
  • snowyowlsnowyowl Posts: 9Registered User New Member
    Thank you, everybody, for your thorough and thoughtful answers. After giving it more thought and reading all these posts, I'm leaning towards stats right now. That doesn't mean much, though - just yesterday I was sold on calc! Aaah! I'll definitely be taking your answers into consideration before I register on Monday. :) Thank you again.
  • anklesankles Posts: 59Registered User Junior Member
    I have the same issue, can someone elaborate how much exactly calc is preferred? someone mentioned before that lack of calc might be questionable? is that horrendously bad? I'm a really strong student but I'm taking an intense load next yr and if I can go with an easier class I will! but not at the expense of my admissions..
  • charlieschmcharlieschm Posts: 4,282Registered User Senior Member
    My understanding is that if you are proposing to be an engineering, pre-med or science major at a selective college, they expect calculus.

    For other majors, I think they look more at the total number of AP classes you have taken, as opposed to whether or not it includes calculus.

    I took calculus in high school and college, and have never ever had any reason to use any of it. I have asked some people in other professions (including some technical fields) whether they used any of it, and they say no.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Posts: 21,292Registered User Senior Member
    It depends on the colleges to which you are applying.

    1) Dartmouth, for example, clearly states that they prefer to see Calc. If your school offers it and you don't take it, while 90% of the other applicants do....

    2) How much science do you have? Highly selective colleges prefer to see four years' worth of the big five academics. If you don't have four years of science, I'd drop one of the lit/hume courses and take science instead.
  • adchangadchang Posts: 398Registered User Member
    Calc looks better than Stats.

    Anyways, I bombed the Calc BC exam (4)-- misread one of the problems and integrated all funky. The Stats (5) one was so easy that I ended up writing haikus after I finished the FR, then crossed them out so they wouldn't be graded. Stats class was pretty easy too, though I goofed on in Calc quite a bit as well.

    Calc AB or Honors are both viable and respectable options as well.
  • tglowertglower Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Hi, My daughter is in a similiar situation, although she is torn between AP Stats and regular calculus. Math has always been her most difficult subject and she is also not planning on majoring in engineering. She's somewhat undecided at this point thinking about health care (physical therapy, occupational therapy, teaching?) She currently has a 93 in her college prep pre calculus class. The schools she's interested in applying to: Wake Forest, UNC Chapel Hill, Furman and possibly Elon..wants to head back to the south.
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