AP Calculus AB student looking for more of a challenge/be more competitive in CS field


Going into my junior year, I took the decision to drop down to AP Calculus AB after getting a B both semesters in Precalculus Honors.

However, I’m now starting to regret that decision as I feel like I opted to lower myself into a much easier course than what I was expecting. I have a 98 percent and am breezing through the material, and I feel like my Bs in PCH were just from low work ethic and I could have done fine in BC.

I’ve already passed the date for changing courses at this point, but have another idea:

Do you think it would be a bad idea to take both the AP Calculus AB and BC exams to show that I am competent in the math field? I am interested in going into CS and would hope to be competitive enough to get into a UC.

I was also thinking of taking Calculus 1B at a community college to complete 1a and 1b for the general education requirements (Calculus AB only completes 1a, while BC gets 1a and 1b).

Please let me know what the best steps are to up myself competitively and to show my math level is competent for the UCs in Computer Science.

Thank you

What Math do you have planned for Senior Year?

Reaching AP Calculus BC by end of Senior year and taking the comparable AP exams is competitive for the UC’s. Excellent Grades and having a good foundation in Math will serve you better in your other college math courses.

AP tests are mostly for credit/placement (hence the name), not admissions. Assuming you are taking BC next year, wait until you have taken the material and take the BC exam at the end of the year.

Finishing BC at the end of senior year will meet the expectations of any college to which you may be applying.

If you are looking for something to stand out as a CS applicant, I’d look for something like Discrete Math, Number Theory, etc. to show breadth in addition to completing Calc BC. Or a Comp Sci club, CS competitions, etc.

Next year, I’m planning on taking AP Stats (taking AP Calc BC will be really redundant with AP Calc AB).

Do you think completing Calc 1b at a community college and pairing that with my completion of Calculus 1a (through Calculus AB) will recreate the completion of Calculus BC?

I’ll have all the same college requirements completed as anyone who’s taken BC, but will colleges care about where I’ve gotten the requirements from or the fact that I’ve not taken an AP test for BC?



No, it wouldn’t be. At all.

Our HS BC class reviews AB content for 4 weeks and the rest of the BC course is new, advanced content.

Yes, AB plus a 2nd semester Calc class will likely be equivalent of Calc BC. (Which raises the question, why is BC redundant but Calc 1b worthwhile, if they’re the same?)

The issue is college credit. AP exams are a very widely used placement tool. Most colleges clearly state criteria for earning placement/credit from an AP score and over 2,000 schools do this for Calc BC.

Credit for a college course taken elsewhere is very school-dependent. My Older D’s college, for example, has a database of credit they give for other college courses. Of the DE courses our HS offers, about half earn credit and half don’t.

If you’re sure the colleges to which you are applying will give credit for the school at which you would be taking Calc 1b, then earning a C or better (typically required for transfer credit) may be be easier than The 4 or 5 AP score most schools require. But if they don’t give credit, then you may be forced to take it over.