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How hard is Calculus in college?

shinichi1419shinichi1419 Posts: 63Registered User Junior Member
edited July 2008 in College Life
Seriously, I've been really bothered by what my advisers said about Calculus in college. I'm going to attend at UF this fall and the advisers there suggest people not to skip Calc because of their AP scores since they said that AP Cal is nothing compare to college Cal ...

I heard the opposite from my AP instructor in high school . He said that AP Cal is about as hard if not harder than Cal in college ...

So really , I want to hear from those who has taken the class already and your opinion about it.

I've been a really a good math student since kindergarten (no kidding) , and AP Cal in high school to me didn't seem that challenging even though it was a little confusing the first week of school.
Post edited by shinichi1419 on
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Replies to: How hard is Calculus in college?

  • arnocarnoc Posts: 324Registered User Member
    That really completely depends on the school. My college gives Calculus II credit for AP Calculus AB and teaches some AP Calculus BC topics in Calculus III, so it's definitely not a difficult thing there, but it's a business school.
  • burgler09burgler09 Posts: 1,386Registered User Senior Member
    I can't speak for AP calc because I was lazy in high school, but what I can say is that Calc in college is pretty easy... Calc is calc, do a little bit of studying and its not hard. I'd say just take Calc 1 for a gpa booster if anything, itll keep you refreshed build confidence and your gpa. Don't worry so much! :P
  • Mr. BojanglesMr. Bojangles Posts: 824Registered User Member
    Depends, really. Some people skip Calc I go to Calc II and excel. Then some just get owned in Calc II. Then you get people like me...I did well in high school AP Calc, but straight up failed Calc I in college. Granted I didn't study, and Calc II and III both gave me a hard time also...everyone's different.

    If you're confident in your abilities, go for it. Look up Calc professor's websites with versions of their Calc I syllabi and see if the curriculum resembles what you've learned.
  • cbeleycbeley Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    At UW-Madison you have math 221 and 222, which I think are basicly the same as Calculus I and II. Since I got a five on the Calculus BC exam, i can get out of both of these classes, so I have been wondering about this also.

    I looked at the final exam for 222 and other than the squences and series stuff, everything diden't seem all that hard. In high school, our calculus class isen't split up, so you half half 3/4 of the class taking the AB test and the rest taking the BC, thus everything for the BC test was sort of rushed at the end (mainly the squences and series). I'm not very good with sequences and series, but I think with a little studying I'd have no problem (I lost all motivation at th end of the year).

    I also looked at a quiz for Math 234 (which I guess is what Calculus III would be for the most part. I don't think I could solve the problems (though, it was 1AM when I looked....), but they diden't look like something I would find terribly difficult.

    Overall, the major weakness I would have would be with proofs, as we diden't really mess with that kind of thing (the class was very geared towards the AP test and our teacher did that very well in my opinion). I never found calculus all that hard, but I do wonder a little whether I should skip or not....

    Anyway, I have orientation in a couple weeks and will be able to talk with an adviser. Though, it'd be nice to hear others' opinions.
  • karipac07karipac07 Posts: 124Registered User Junior Member
    At my school calc isn't easy, in fact Math 233 AKA Calc 3 is the most failed class at UNC.
    My calc teacher in high school was really hard but I got a 5 on the BC exam so I placed out of 231 and 232 but every school is different.

    What are you majoring in?
  • shinichi1419shinichi1419 Posts: 63Registered User Junior Member
    I'm majoring in Computer engineering
  • feenotypefeenotype Posts: 2,305Registered User Senior Member
    This is something that you should discuss with the professors at the school you plan to attend. Because the difference in AP Calculus and college calculus depends on the college, they can advise you on the difficulty of their calculus to high school calculus, based on their experiences.
  • lethargytmlethargytm Posts: 1,068Registered User Member
    ap calc bc is comparable to college calc. ap calc ab is baby stuff. college calc, however, is easy.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Posts: 9,520Registered User Senior Member
    cbeley, sequences and series are one of the less important topics in Calc II for applications (if you need calc for physics etc). If you are interested in pure math, these topics will be covered again very extensively in real analysis. I am also not aware of a college that uses Calc I or II to introduce rigorous proofs. That's typically done in Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, or a 'Bridge to Higher Math' course, and sometimes in a multivariable calc section for math majors.

    I only took Calc AB, which did not cover series and sequences at all, but tested right into multivariable calc at my college. I have been doing well in all of my college math classes so far.
  • cbeleycbeley Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    b@r!um: that is rather reassuring considering
    1. I plan to major in computer and electrical engineering.
    and
    2. I feel rather comfortable with everything else, and I have some very extensive notes (thanks to my teacher) covering a large amount of calculus with tons of examples that I can refer back to (I am debating whether to put it all in a digital format). It's actually a huge binder that he gave us at the beginning of the year, and throughout the year we solved all the example problems in it and added additional notes.

    I will definitely discuss this with my advisers regardless, but it is nice to hear outside information/opinions. I think I'm going to probably be skipping calc 1 and 2 though after this and reading through the sylabi and exams.


    On a completely unrelated note (sort of), I'm also debating between taking Chem 103/104 for a full year or taking chem 109 (which is a faster paced class that covers everything in 103/104 in one semester). Only real beniefet is it gives me an extra semester class of something else, but chemistry really isn't my thing ( I got a 2 on the AP chem test....though, I was extremely surprised I didn't get 3 quite frankly despite me sort of not trying at all during the last semester and having a very minimal effort during the first semester). Despite that though, I feel I have a good general knowledge and start to the concepts listed in the course descriptions, but I worry about class competion, considering the major target audience for that class seems to be chemistry majors (though, it is a freshman class...it's just an alternative to the all year route). It may be interesting to note that my AP chem class went well beyond the typical circulum for a ap chem class. Also, I don't know if I want that in my freshman year, because it is important I maintain a good GPA in my science classes so that I can stay/actually be admitted into the engineering program.

    As for why i don't care for chemistry that much...I love logic and problem solving (which is why I enjoy programming), but I've never cared for all the tiny little details that are involved with chemistry. It's logic and problem solving, but you need to take all these details and put them together ...I guess you could say the same for physics or programing, but I've never felt that way.... I can find chemistry interesting but, I just don't like it :-P Which is one reason why I diden't put the effort into that class that I should have (along with senioritus....as for Calculus, I didn't have to put that much effort into it and I enjoy it more for some reason).
  • dilksydilksy Posts: 1,903- Senior Member
    "I am also not aware of a college that uses Calc I or II to introduce rigorous proofs. That's typically done in Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, or a 'Bridge to Higher Math' course, and sometimes in a multivariable calc section for math majors."

    Well technically calc I and calc II with rigorous proofs is just real analysis (or at least an introduction to it). This is the way the theoretical introductory sequence works at Michigan, and I believe Chicago/Harvard as well (not as familiar with how the curriculum works for their theoretical intro sequences). But it is pretty much assumed that all the students taking these sequences have already gotten 5's on the Calc BC exam, so it's not meant to be a first exposure to the concepts covered in Calc I/Calc II. I'm pretty sure the curriculum for the regular Honors Calc I and Calc II classes at Michigan were changed last year to include a good amount of proofs/theoretical math.
  • cbeleycbeley Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    dilksy: From looking at the course descriptions for UW-madison, there appear to be honors Calc 1, 2, and 3....however...I don't plan on taking the honors classes. Calculus is important to my major, but a ton of proofs or theoretical math will probably not beniefet me that much, nor do I want to spend my time with it.

    My guess is that the honors classes focus on these proofs and further details about things (though, there is actually a side program that does that also with the normal calculus which I am planning on taking...though, I'm sure it's not like turning it into honors calc though). Also, while I was on a tour, a representative of the engineering department (thoguh, he was more like an advisor with no actual engineering expertise) sort of went on about how difficult the honros versions of calc were and that there were all kinds of proofs and crazy stuff.

    Anyway, I like this. This all helps me organize my thoughts and come up with questions to ask my advisor ^^
  • ChamilitaryMayneChamilitaryMayne Posts: 781Registered User Member
    I would skip Calc 1 at UF if you have a comfortable understanding of calculus. Same goes with Calc 2. This is only for UF though as I recently took both classes. I'm not so sure about other schools.
  • It'sGr82BeAGatorIt'sGr82BeAGator Posts: 513Registered User Member
    Skip it. I haven't taken Calc 1 or 2 at UF, but I heard it's basically a weed-out class meant to single out the best students. This is only if you know what you're doing though. If you've forgotten much of Calc, I suggest retaking it as it will help in future classes in the long run
  • demeterdemeter Posts: 1,367Registered User Senior Member
    OP, if your high school AP calculus class prepared you well, then I don't think college calculus will be that much harder. I took the AB test and placed into calc II. I had no trouble with it.

    Cbeley, have you tried asking about your chem options on your school's subforum? Another thing to consider is why you got a 2 on the AP exam. The AP course covers some pretty fundamental stuff, so even if your class covered material beyond the AP level, that's not going to help you if you struggle with the basics.

    My school offers a chem class similar to your chem 109. I took it , and while the material was hard and the exams difficult (but mainly because they were long), it actually wasn't hard to do well in the class if you knew how to study (and also thanks to the generous curve). I'd say half my class was full of engineering students and not too many potential chem majors (but then again, different school).

    My high school AP Chem class also covered material outside the scope of the AP exam, and the exam ended up being very easy compared to what I considered at the time a ridiculously hard class.

    You can always sign up for chem 109 and then drop it at a later date. In my case, the intensive gen chem (one-semester gen chem) and regular gen chem classes used the same textbook, which reduced the hassle for students dropping a level.
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