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AP Stat or Calc?

zacademicszacademics 19 replies6 threads Junior Member
I'm intending on going into the STEM field and being a STEM major when going into college but I find that I have to work harder than my peers to get good grades in math. With that said, I am wondering, what would colleges prefer to see in my coursework-AP Stat or applied calc? I heard that AP Stat is generally easier but I think that having a foundation for calculus would also be important. (I am a rising senior)
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Replies to: AP Stat or Calc?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10178 replies119 threads Senior Member
    For a stem major take calc.
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  • happy1happy1 24015 replies2407 threads Super Moderator
    Calculus, no doubt.
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  • zacademicszacademics 19 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Would you still suggest calc if I got a better grade in AP Stat? Thank you for the info though!
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  • happy1happy1 24015 replies2407 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 19
    Yes, I'd take calculus since you will be a STEM major in college. Here are some detailed reasons.

    --AP Stat is widely considered to be one of the easier APs. It is unlikely that an admissions officer will be impressed by even a very high grade in AP Stat.

    --If I were an admission officer and saw that you were: 1) applying as a STEM major and 2) had the opportunity to take calculus in HS and opted to take an easier class it might give me pause.

    --And perhaps most importantly, as a STEM major you will definitely need to take calculus in college and it is in your best interest to be prepared. My S did not take calculus in HS. When he started calculus first semester freshman year he was surprised to find that he was one of (I think) three people in a class of 40 who had not taken calc in HS (As a point of reference he went to a college ranked between 50 - 100). So while calculus was review for over 90% of the class the material was all new to him. He spent a ton of time at the math center, at office hours etc. to keep up. He got through the class but it was a difficult way to start college. FWIW he also took two semesters of statistics in college with no HS background and had no problems. Based on his expereince I made sure my D took calculus in HS.
    edited June 19
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83406 replies741 threads Senior Member
    edited June 19
    Generally, if you complete precalculus in 11th grade or earlier, taking calculus in high school is preferable if available and you may go into any major that requires calculus.

    Note that high school AP calculus AB (or a non-AP calculus course that is less rigorous than AP calculus AB) will cover material at a slower gentler pace than calculus in college. If you need to work hard at math, taking calculus at the slower pace in high school may be less difficult than taking it for the first time at full speed* in college, especially if the college calculus course is full of students "repeating their AP calculus credit for an 'easy A'".

    *AP calculus BC in one year, starting from completion of precalculus, approximates the speed at which college calculus will cover material.
    edited June 19
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  • zacademicszacademics 19 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I have been getting a lot of varied suggestions on which to take, but this is the most helpful advice I have gotten and has put things in perspective for me. Thank you so much!
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  • zacademicszacademics 19 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I hadn't thought about what it would be like to take it in college, but yes, that definitely makes sense!
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  • CulbreathCulbreath 20 replies2 threads Junior Member
    If you are planning on going into a math heavy STEM field such as engineering, math, actuarial science, or physics (among others), calculus is absolutely fundamental and you really need to have a strong understanding of the subject. Kind of like how algebra is fundamental to more advanced math courses. Taking it in high school, and then again in college as reinforcement, is a wise route to take. Also, a rigorous college-level statistics class might have calculus as a prerequisite.
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  • zacademicszacademics 19 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Yes, that is a good point-thank you!
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