Calculus as a 9th Grader

So I am currently an ongoing 8th Grader. I am taking an Alg2H and Intro to Trigonometry Course this summer starting July. Later, once I start 8th Grade, I will be taking Alg2H and Pre-Calculus Honors. I would like to know if it would be possible for me to be in Calculus as a 9th Grader. I know very well that I am extremely advanced for my age especially just making the cut off in New Hampshire. I am not entirely sure though whether Calculus would be bearable in 9th Grade as I am applying to many prestigious schools including Phillips Exeter, Phillips Academy, and St. Pauls. Next, if I do happen to be placed in Calculus for Freshman Year of High School, I was wondering what the options for following High School years would be. Any help, advice, or insights would be much appreciated. Thank you. :slight_smile:

Calculus is the obvious course to follow precalculus, so why wouldn’t you take it immediately after completing precalculus?

However, after calculus math courses would usually mean taking more advanced (college sophomore level) math courses at local colleges:

  • multivariable calculus
  • linear algebra
  • differential equations
  • calculus-based statistics
  • discrete math (mainly of interest to computer science majors)

Some high schools may offer some of these courses, but you would not be able to get credit or advanced placement for them in college if you just have high school credit for them. Some (not all) colleges may allow you to get advanced placement by exam in this case.

My son’s school always had a handful of kids in calculus as freshmen and they had a full curriculum beyond that. It’s not the norm, but it’s also not that unusual.

I would say, though, that you should be sure you are really mastering everything and not just rushing through. The kids who did the latter generally found themselves in a frustrating, lost place somewhere along the way, and their confidence (and love of math) really suffered as a result.

gardenstategal What high school does/did your son go to? Just curious.

I’d suggest finding and reading an article called The Calculus Trap, by the founder of AoPS. It has some things to at least think about.

We limited my D to 2 years advancement and instead had her study non-HS curriculum topics - Number/Game/Graph Theory, Discrete Math, proofs, etc. through multiple channels. I think it provides a broader, more solid mathematical foundation. Calc/MV/etc. will accelerate you for Engineering, but I think the others will help more if your goal is Math/CS.

@isabeleatskimchi , he went to George School.

Many of the international students came from highly accelerated systems but because it has a good reputation for STEM, it was a bit of a magnet for kids with those interests in general.

If you are consider boarding school, you should check it out!

Many BS can accommodate you with Calc in 9th grade. It’s fairly common for Asian students to be in Pre-calc or calc in 9th.
I agree with other posters. Taking a summer course rather than a full year course can leave gaps. My oldest repeated a math just to avoid having gaps. One can always go deeper in multiple directions in math.

Being several years ahead doesn’t get you much college wise. This is due in part to the fact that many kids have no access to very advanced math or even community college. If you are a MIT/Caltech type you’ll still have to follow a curriculum in college. I’d look for BS schools that allow flexibility and individual course work. Some BS love these kids while others try to get them to follow the usual math program. A good fit BS will tell you how they do it. Most BS will have a number of kids who are well ahead. Some are mathy and some just came from a background with more exposure at an earlier age.

It is not all that common to take calculus in 9th grade or earlier. shows the number of students taking the AP calculus exams:

Grade   Calculus AB     Calculus BC
<9         134 ( 0.043%)   110 ( 0.079%) 
 9         848 ( 0.27%)    655 ( 0.47%)
10        8354 ( 2.8%)    5441 ( 3.9%)
11       86379 (28%)     39809 (29%)
12      207214 (67%)     90917 (65%)
not HS     563 ( 0.18%)    427 ( 0.31%)
unstated  4760 ( 1.5%)    1881 ( 1.3%)
total   308538          139376

Yes, there would be some others taking calculus through IB, college courses while in high school, etc., but taking calculus in 9th grade is definitely not “common”.

^^ At my son’s school, those kids would probably take the IB HL exam if they were going to take a standardized test. (IB school. )

My kids’ HS had some frosh doing calc, public school,. IB option school though, so the cohort was always self selective. The kids that did calc as middle schoolers/hs frosh did further math at HL as their max math at high school (after AB and BC calc LOL). I am not sure all IB schools did offer further math though (old style math, before the change). Normal IB HL math wasn’t an accelerated pathway.

If you get into, say, Exeter, you’ll have plenty to choose from. You can follow what @ucbalumnus has outlined for a more tradition path (with its emphasis on analytic part of math), or you do what @RichInPitt has suggested for a more abstract path (with its emphasis on algebraic part of math). It depends on your interest and your goal.

@INJParent thank you for the advice. Ideally, I am aiming to get into Exeter, but with my not so high SSAT reading scores, I’m not sure. SSAT score is currently at a 90 percentile right now, but I’m trying even harder next time.

Hi Im a junior and I took calc two years ago as a freshman. Theres a lot of math courses past calc if you want to take it. What I did is take calc BC (calc 2) after taking normal calc. Also take courses at community college to boost yourself even further. Its a little scary at first but its really good. Anyways gl! i like finding other kids like me

Yup. Several 9th graders in calc at my kids school. One of the reasons they chose the school was specifically because they could be accommodated in math after calculus bc and were allowed to take that as a 9th grader. You’d be surprised how many schools push back on that so make sure you ask about it during interviews.