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# Should I let my son switch to AP Calculus AB?

He is enrolled in AP Calculuus BC. He had this teacher in 10th grade for Algebra 2 and he said he never benefited from any of her classes, he never comes out of class understanding the material, and has to re-study it at home. Thus, he is very worried about doing well in this class. He would like to switch to AP Calculus AB, but we are not sure if that's a good idea, given his intended major.

A couple of years ago, we actually walked into Purdue admissions (we live in town) and discussed briefly what their requirements would be. The admission officer asked him what classes he intended to take and when he said at the time Calculus AB, she had said "why not BC?". Thus, it just seems he would need to stick it out in BC and make sure he doesn't do a bad job. Incidentally, the oficer also asked why AP Bio and not AP Physics, but he still didn't take AP Physics because Honors Physics was very hard (made A- anyway) and was afraid to go to AP Physics.

Anyone has any advice on whether would be bad if he switched to AB?

## Replies to: Should I let my son switch to AP Calculus AB?

Is he applying to CS in the college of science or in engineering? If it's through the college of engineering, I would highly recommend reconsidering the decision about not taking AP physics. That was by far the most useful HS course for my D and she would have been lost in the engineering design course without it. (She's starting her sophomore year at Purdue in chemical engineering).

FWIW, I think having a strong understanding is going to be more important than if it's AB or BC. The math sequence at Purdue is no joke.

As a senior, I’m not sure getting an “A” is much as a factor as showing colleges your class rigor senior year as they primarily are going to be looking at sophomore/junior grades and won’t even know your senior class grades by the time they make their admission decisions. If you plan on being a STEM major I say take BC.

Calculus 1 playlist

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF797E961509B4EB5

Calculus 2 Playlist

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDesaqWTN6EQ2J4vgsN1HyBeRADEh4Cw-

Calculus 3 Playlist

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDesaqWTN6ESk16YRmzuJ8f6-rnuy0Ry7

2) Just because he didn't feel like he was getting much out of class 2 years ago, he should not go into this course with the utterly self-defeating attitude that he just isn't going to understand a word she says. Presumably he is older and more developed and this is different material. Give it (and the teacher) a chance.

3) Poor algebra skills are a major reason for poor performance in calculus, so he will find out how well he did at teaching himself algebra.

4) I was a mathphobe in high school. When I got to Calculus I in college I was so concerned that I would not do well that I did pretty much every problem in the text, to the tune of around 150/week. Practice, work hard, and stop blaming the faculty.

I think the rigor is esp. a factor here since he's not taking Physics.

Ask the GC at your HS -- they probably have a sense of how changing would affect admissions chances from your school.

If he does stick it out, he only needs the A or high B, if numeric, by mid-year and sounds like with right support he could do that. Finishing with a B for the year is no big deal as he'll be admitted by then.

Then in terms of what to take at Purdue once he arrives, he should consult his advisor. Some colleges it makes sense to repeat a semester; others it doesn't.

Purdue has all the calc exams and finals on line. Students are encouraged to take some of the tests and see how they fair. If they consistently are scoring over 80% (that would be an A at Purdue since the means on exams typically are in the low 60s, sometimes as low as the mid 40s), they're encouraged by their advisors to move to the next level of calc. There is all kinds of different "advice" about what to do and not to do from students but honestly, listen to the advisors.

Purdue also allows extra recitations for both Calc I and II. For example, my D skipped Calc I but added a recitation for II, so her class was 5 credits - 3 days/week of lecture and 2 days/week of small group recitation. it worked well for her. Otherwise the "normal" calc class is 4 credits with just one day/week of small group recitation. She found the PhD student TAs that teach the calc recitations to be incredibly smart and excellent at explaining difficult concepts.

Could it impact admissions to Purdue CS? Maybe. Other factors will have a much greater impact (GPA, test scores), I wouldn't think AB vs BC will be the deciding factor, but no one really knows. As with any student, he should apply to other matches and safeties, in case he doesn't get accepted to Purdue.

Good Luck!

http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu/Classes/CalcII/CalcII.aspx

Then adcoms are not going to hold it against the applicant if that's the highest that's offered, however the OP's son can take BC.

"He thought he would be behind in math but found that many kids some of whom had only taken precalculus, some AB, some BC where all is the same math class to start."

That seems odd for an ivy that they all started in the same level of math. Many kids (not most of course), will have taken a class or two beyond Calculus (Stats, m/v, diff equations) so taking calculus again would mean they didn't place out of it or want the easy A. Given that 61% of kids taking the BC get a 4 or 5, kind of hard to believe that an ivy would force students to start at the same math. Even Columbia which has a core for engineering gives credit for a 4 or 5.

Could be that the "same math class to start" was calculus 1, with the following students:

* Students who completed up to precalculus in high school.

* Students who took a calculus course that is less rigorous than AP calculus in high school.

* Students who took AP calculus but scored poorly on the AP test, so they did not get advanced placement.

* Students who took AP calculus, scored well on the AP test, but felt lost when looking at the college's old calculus 1 final exam.

* Students who took AP calculus, scored well on the AP test, but followed forum conventional wisdom (which I do not agree with) to unconditionally repeat their AP credit.

* Students who took AP calculus, scored well on the AP test, but repeated their AP credit for grade grubbing purposes.