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Self Studying AP Calc BC

BLangmanBLangman 14 replies9 threads Junior Member
Is it worth it to self study AP Calc BC as a sophomore? My school wont let me take the class until senior year, and I really want to learn math at a more difficult level. I have a pretty good grasp on integrals, derivatives, and their respective applications.
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Replies to: Self Studying AP Calc BC

  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    What classes have you already taken, and what has given you a “good grasp” on the topics?

    I’m a big proponent of a Richard Rusczyk’s “Calculus Trap” and Art Benjamin’s cautions regarding Calculus acceleration.

    Rather than further accelerate my D into Calc (she’s taking it now as a Sophomore), we’ve invested her time in other topics - Discrete Math, Number Theory, Topology, Graph Theory, etc. - through AoPS, MIT Open Courseware, JH CTY, etc.

    If someone told me they wanted to study “More difficult math”, I’d point them in that direction. You’ll get to Calc, MVC, Linear, DiffEq, etc. in time.
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  • BLangmanBLangman 14 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for your response! I understand most problems that have to do with Integrals and derivatives (They just click in my head for me) and the last time i took a practice BC test I scored well on those parts of the exam. All I need to go over is polar coordinates and sequences and series. I just read the "Calculus trap", and it's really interesting! However, I want to learn harder math for a variety of different reasons. I would like some extra college credit to help with paying for college, and I want to stand out against my peers, who will all be taking calculus as seniors. Thanks for the advice though!
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  • TeedubTeedub 13 replies1 threads New Member
    It seems to me that you are wanting to self study AP Calc not just for your college admission purposes but you have a genuine intent of learning more advanced math. In that case, I would say it will be worth studying yourself and taking the exam.

    A few things to watch out for / consider when you are making the decision to do it:
    - Make sure you can prioritize your registered courses in school first--- if your grades get lower because you spend too much time on Calc studying, it won't be worth it
    - Polar coordinates and sequences are important parts in FRQ so make sure to really understand those parts / do a lot of practice questions
    - The best studying resource is College Board past exams---I would try to do all the FRQ questions and make sure you really understand every one of them. Doing other books like Barron would help as well, but especially for FRQs, College Board exams will give you the best sense of the style of the questions

    I hope it goes well! Good luck!
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7505 replies79 threads Senior Member
    You won’t “stand out” in an admissions sense by self studying AP Calc. The things that @RichInPitt suggested would do more good for that.

    If your goal is to reduce the cost of college by getting AP credits you get the most bang for your AP buck at public universities- if you are aiming for selective privates be aware that most of them have limits on how many AP credits you can apply to your degree.
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  • h8annahh8annah 405 replies28 threads Member
    I self studied AP Calc BC! It was stressful at times, but I managed to do it and ended up getting an A in DiffEq this semester.

    Understanding derivatives and integrals are a start, but the class is a lot more than that. I'm not sure if you mean things like Related Rates and Volume problems as practical applications, but I struggled a lot with these topics since it wasn't in a class.

    You are also going to do things like Polar Coordinates, Taylor series, integration by parts, arc length, and parametrics. With a good background in derivatives and integrals, it might work. After all, I did it with limited knowledge.

    I will say, though, that my experience taking the AP exam was pretty bad. I got a 4 on BC and the AB subscore, but I walked in confident and walked out feeling as if I got a 1. Just understanding the topics aren't enough; you need to be ready to apply them to a multitude of scenarios and think critically to apply them to things you haven't seen before.

    To Self-Study I used the following:
    -My school's old BC textbook
    -Paul's Online Notes (SUPER helpful in higher math, I use it in DE still)
    -LOTS of Khan Academy
    -Princeton Review

    It also might be worthwhile to look into buying Wolfram Alpha Premium. They work out problems for you, if you purchase it, which might help if you ever get stuck! Of course, you don't need to do this, and you won't be able to use a laptop during the exam.
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  • h8annahh8annah 405 replies28 threads Member
    You won’t “stand out” in an admissions sense by self studying AP Calc. The things that @RichInPitt suggested would do more good for that.

    I want to respectively disagree with this. OP might not stand out in the entire pool of applicants, but schools say they evaluate based on the context of a student's school. If OP is the only student to successfully study Calc BC AND move on to higher levels of math, while everyone is waiting until senior year, I think that he'll stand out in the context of his school. The guidance counselor could put in the rec that he was the only student to do this.
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  • BLangmanBLangman 14 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks so much!!
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