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AP calculus ab or bc??

gasherginagashergina Registered User Posts: 564 Member
edited April 2009 in College Admissions
Yes, I know the difference..
I was wondering if taking ab would affect how my transcript looked..
i know it will, but by how much??
I've been taking honors math my whole life, but this year I'm finding Honors Precalculus to be tough. At my school, honors precalculus is the hardest math course, then it gets better in calculus because we've covered all the topics in precalc.

But i'm still afraid that I'll get a B in BC.
they're both weighted classes in my school anyway..

So would taking calc AB hurt me, as in.. would colleges think I'm slacking off ust because it's my senior year?
Post edited by gashergina on

Replies to: AP calculus ab or bc??

  • zfox001zfox001 Registered User Posts: 1,212 Senior Member
    AP Calc AB is differential calculus and Calc BC is mainly integral calculus

    You need to take AB first....or be a genius cause BC elaborates on topics that you learn in AB. And no....calc AB is considered a hard class....def not a slacking off class.

    that would strike me as a myth that pre-calc is the toughest. Calc problems encorporate everything from pre-calc and make it much harder. Not to mention the algebra becomes more complicated and you are expected to know more.

    Take AB first.....dont skip to BC
    that would be death!!!!!
  • HHS310HHS310 Registered User Posts: 181 Junior Member
    ok, you don't seem to understand how the math courses work.

    first of all, if you think honors precalc is tough, then you will probably end up with at least a B, if not a C or D in AP calc. You said that you learn everything in precalc, and you are dead wrong. Precalc is just the tip of the iceburg.

    second, you will not survive calc BC without taking AB first. It would be impossible, especially for someone who is struggling with precalc. You need to take AB before BC.

    and third, there is no way that taking calc AB will look bad to colleges! it's an AP math class, and AP will never look "bad". if you're worried about calc AB hurting your transcript, you don't know what you're talking about.
  • AccessAcademicsAccessAcademics - Posts: 90 Junior Member
    If you have an A average and you think you'd get a B (weighted to an A) in BC Calc, then I'd go for BC Calc. BC Calc really isn't that much more work or that much harder than AB Calc; you just spend less time on each topic. Typically students who would do well in AB Calc would do well in BC Calc. On the other hand, if AB Calc would be a struggle where you feel like you're always playing catch-up, then BC Calc would be a disaster.
  • AccessAcademicsAccessAcademics - Posts: 90 Junior Member
    HHS310,

    My experience has been that students' grades don't drop from precalc to calc. In fact, many students have a better time at calculus because it involves less trig. For students who struggle with precalc, my experience has been that the trig aspects of it are the most troublesome.
  • jerzgrlmomjerzgrlmom Registered User Posts: 1,245 Senior Member
    At our HS, top math kids are ready for calc (a full year course) in senior year. They can take AB or go directly to BC. There is NO option of taking AB first. The reason is that BC repeats what is taught in AB. Usually less than ten students sign up for BC, whereas there are a couple of classes of AB. Colleges seem to agree with the complexity of the classes; they usually grant credit for one semester of college calc for AB, and credit for two semesters for BC.

    While visiting colleges, this question sometimes came up in those info sessions. Several times the college rep said to take the most challenging class available that is appropriate (for their major perhaps?). In our school, generally only science/math/engineering majors take BC whereas anyone takes AB.

    Since BC repeats what is learned in AB, the first half of BC would be review, so some have suggested that an A in the first half of BC (after taking AB) wouldn't be all that impressive to a college admissions office. For a full year course, the mid-yr report would only show the "review" section. It would look really bad to get anything less than an A in BC at the mid-yr point after already taking AB.

    I have spoken to kids in college calc and in general they agree with this assessment. But many kids really don't NEED to take 2 semesters of college calc so BC may be overkill. My DD, a graphic design major, didn't need calc at all but took, and aced, the basic course in HS (and her college even mentioned they were impressed with the level of academic classes she took in HS when awarding her a merit award so clearly they weren't expecting her to have taken BC level). She didn't need to take any further math in college for her BFA. For my son, a neuroscience pre-med major, he is glad to have taken BC. I doubt his school was impressed since pretty much everyone else took BC as well. SO, they did what worked best for their situations.

    For those taking AB before BC, what is your experience? Kids we know who did the AB/BC track said it worked out nicely because it gave them a break during fall semester senior year while they were busy doing applications and allowed them to have a math class every year in HS. They started alg/geom classes earlier than our district allows.

    One word of caution. Calc in college is harder (more involved) than what is taught in AP so be prepared. If you need to take Calc in college, ask current students about their experience. Many we know recommend retaking calc even if you are eligible to skip that level with AP credit because college tests dig deeper then AP. MANY colleges teach calc in large lecture halls (I had 300+ kids in my calc class), although some (like my DD's school) caps their Calc classes at 20 students. Much different learning environment.
  • zala2022zala2022 Registered User Posts: 633 Member
    in our school you are only allowed to take either AB or BC, but not both.
    Our BC classes actucally have higher class average than the AB classes, probably due to the fact that smart ppl go there...
  • AlexEAlexE Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Without reading any of the posts in this thread other than the one mentioning pre-calc being harder than calc: It DEFINITELY IS. I thought pre-calc was wayyyy harder than calculus. Calculus is incredibly simple. You literally have to know how to do two things in calculus: Derive. Integrate. It's really not that hard.
This discussion has been closed.