Do you need to take AP Calc AB or BC for Computer Science?

My son struggled with pre-calc in Sophomore year and wants to skip AP Calc AB or BC in junior and instead take AP Stats. Wants to do Computer Science. Will, it hurt if he skips AP Calc AB or BC in junior year or skips it altogether in high school.

I don’t think skipping AP Calc is a good idea for a future CS major when it’s available at your HS. AP Stats is generally considered a lighter weight AP. My son still found it very useful and was able to take it the same year he took AP Calc AB. How bad was the struggle in Pre-Calc? Any difficulties in Pre-Calc should be ironed out now IMO or they could muck him up in Calc. My suggestion would be to buy another textbook or practice problem set with the solutions or get an on-line tutor if that is affordable.

While most colleges technically do not require calculus in high school, opting out of calculus after finishing precalculus before 12th grade can look bad to an admission reader at a more selective college, and can be disadvantageous in college if the student’s major requires calculus.

As a CS major in college, he will have to take calculus for his major. AP calculus AB will be a slower gentler introduction to calculus than calculus in college will be. Better to take calculus in high school after finishing precalculus in 10th grade rather than skip math for two years and then take full speed calculus in the first semester of college.

http://math.buffalo.edu/rur/rurci3.cgi may help him determine what precalculus concepts he should review before taking calculus.

CS has become one of the very most competitive majors. If your HS offers calc, ad coms are going to expect to see it on the transcript.

Some very strong CS programs fall within the engineering schools of major universities. Not all, of course, but a good number of highly ranked CS programs are. So if those happen to be the programs you’re targeting (or if you’re still trying to keep the most possibilities open), your student needs to be keeping up with the engineering hopefuls as best as he can. Basically they’re the competition for those particular seats. That means taking calculus in high school as well as having a high level of rigor in other classes too.

Even if those aren’t the types of programs he is targeting, he will still need higher math in college, probably including discrete mathematics for CS. So you would be doing him a favor to strengthen his foundation now. Depending on your budget that could mean a tutor or Khan Academy and more office hours with his teacher.

Calculus is inevitable in CS really. Might be better to just grind during the summer and study hard to prepare to take Calc AB junior year