Good At Math vs Ahead In Math

<p>I know a kid who got into MIT who claims he "isn't particularly good at math--just ahead." He took AP calc in sophomore year or something. I'm thinking back to my middle school years, where I tried to accelerate but hadn't learned QUITE enough in elementary school to just skip a year. I'm a sophomore taking Algebra 2 but I know several kids in my grade who are at least a year ahead of me.</p>

<p>I know I'm good at math. VERY good at math. It's not that I get the best grades in math, or that I have the best scores in math. But trust me, I am GOOD at math. Is it worth it for me to try to skip precalc, perhaps over the summer, if only to prove that to colleges?</p>

<p>Do Pre-cal your junior year and do Calc BC your senior year. It'll make you competitive enough. To show you're "very good at math" in an applicant pool like MIT's, you'd need awards or several college maths [diff eq, lin alg, analysis, etc]</p>

<p>when you say "competitive enough"--?</p>

<p>^meaning that you will have taken the same math classes as most of the applicants.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I know I'm good at math. VERY good at math. It's not that I get the best grades in math, or that I have the best scores in math. But trust me, I am GOOD at math. Is it worth it for me to try to skip precalc, perhaps over the summer, if only to prove that to colleges?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>No, there is no need to skip a grade of math. It will not make that much difference, as taking calculus or multivariable in senior year is fairly common for applicants of highly selective schools, and will not necessarily make you stand out in any way. Skip a year if you love math for the sake of the subject matter and want to challenge yourself, but do not rely on it to make a difference in admissions. You can also prove that you're good at math in so many other ways.</p>

<p>What definition of being "good at math" are you referring to here? Since most applicants are "good at math", so to speak (see <a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/massachusetts-institute-technology/879436-official-2014-mit-rd-decisions.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/massachusetts-institute-technology/879436-official-2014-mit-rd-decisions.html&lt;/a> where everyone rejected seemed to have 800 on their math SATs, etc), you'll have to be really, really good at math to stand out... :P.</p>

<p>There was a girl in my daughter's high school who got all the math awards because she was a class ahead of the other girls. She had been homeschooled during her early years and had kept her math tutor once she went into middle and high school. She took classes in the summer and really fancied herself as a little wizard. One day, the physics teacher said to her, "I hope that you are not doing anything with math in college because you really are not very good at it." Hmmmmm. This was much to the amusement of a couple of other kids in the class who, like you, were actually good in math, but did not have a private tutor nor did they accelerate in the summer. </p>

<p>Have fun. Do what you like. Get the best math foundation you possibly can and then take math as far as you like once you enter college. High schools are so varied that high school seniors apply with all different levels of math achievment.</p>

<p>The question is though, are you actually "good" at math or are you a "fast learner"? Those two may cover eachother but generally if you are just "good" I would suggest taking pre-calc rather than going out and skipping it. However if you are a fast learner, most teachers review precalc concepts in the first part of the class and if you put some time into it you will be fine. I currently am skipping precalc at a community college level, as I got p-oed at my school and I am doing fine. However I still struggle occasionally on tests and quizzes(84.5 in class) because some concepts are inherently foreign to me. But as long as you put work into it you will be fine.</p>

<p>If you have taken geometry and have the money and time to, special enroll at a cc for Calc1 or precalc summer semester if you are worried about what to take.</p>

<p>Don't skip ahead unless you are sure there will be 'enough' math for you in your senior year and that the school will allow the skip. I've known of kids who got burned both when they 'ran out of math' and when the school refused to accept summer credentials.
You might also want to get involved in some math competitions. Look up AMC/AIME/USAMO and then find out if they are offered at your school. These are national math competitions that do not actually require advanced math knowledge but are quite challenging.</p>

<p>calico & run2flyfree-- I'm not quite sure how to describe how good I am at math... I am a VERY fast learner and no matter what class I seem to be in it is always moving too slow. I'm great at explaining concepts to other people. I talked to my math teacher and she thinks I could probably learn most of precalculus in a couple of months if I had a textbook and worked with my dad.
I hate the way math classes are structured; I tend to do maybe a quarter of the homework and get A's or A-'s by the end of the year (I'm doing better this year, though, because of the way Algebra 2 is structured).
I think I took the USAMO for fun a little while ago but didn't do too well. I applied to HCSSiM and was neither accepted nor rejected. I've been talking with the director and it looks like I'll probably go NEXT summer after I've learned precalc.</p>

<p>nemom -- it is quite common in my school to finish the high school math curriculum and then take a college course senior year. We are very near some excellent colleges. I would check with my guidance counselor and all that before skipping, of course.</p>

<p>You can learn math very fast, but do you have the depth of knowledge in it? It's one thing to understand the mean value theorem and another to prove it. This article should help:</p>

<p>The</a> Calculus Trap</p>

<p>A lot of the time, people think they're good at/like math until their first proof-based course (multivariable calculus or linear algebra, normally). Tests like USAMO (though I can't see someone getting a score above 1 in that without having had precalc) and programs like the one you mentioned, though, tend to give you a decent sense, although competition math is again not the same as being good at math. Generally those who are good at math do get solid grades in lower level courses, but being ahead doesn't necessarily show being good at math. In some ways, Geometry does show facility with math, since it's the most proof-based of courses before the ones I mentioned, generally.</p>

<p>I suck at math and I was "ahead" in math (honors pre-calc as a sophomore, AP calc as a junior, etc) and I'm sure that colleges knew that my acceleration did not indicate skill. If you're really as good as you say, though, accelerate a year. I think it'll help you, if only marginally, in the eyes of the adcoms.</p>

<p>The link that AnOmaly (above) references articulates some of the issues with early math acceleration. The other is that the typical high school AP calculus courses are best taken with matching science courses (especially physics, advanced chemistry, etc.). In this way the vehicle for applying the math concepts to real problems becomes clear, and deeper understanding follows. In most cases such science courses are not offered -- simply because it's "high school" and not sophomore year college, and faculty to teach such courses are not working in high schools.</p>

<p>The value of ever more advanced math courses in high school is questionable. I expect that college admission committees understand that. Finishing high school with AP Calculus C is more than sufficient for even the very very bright.</p>

<p>Don't do that, you kinda need trig to be beat into your head over and over and over again XD </p>

<p>:)</p>

<p>If Calc BC is the most advanced class in your school, do that senior year so you dont just skip a year of math your senior year.</p>

<p>The public school system sucks hard.</p>

<p>I was gifted at math from an early age, I was able to process complex multiplications in my head by the age of 4. </p>

<p>What happens after that?</p>

<p>I move to America, get C average in 6th grade math and take Pre-Calculus by senior year.</p>

<p>**** the Calculus curriculum.</p>

<p>Why do you think that's the fault of the public school system? If you don't demonstrate to people that you're gifted at math, it's not everyone else's fault that you don't get placed in advanced courses.</p>

<p>I would say skip the precalculus class as long as you have a solid understanding of trig. As a student who struggled in both Algebra II and precalc, I can say that AP calculus AB/BC is easy for anyone interested in math. Taking the class as a junior might allow you to test the waters of a multi variable calculus class as a senior as well.</p>

<p>Around here, the teaching of math is very inconsistant not to mention our public school curriculum stinks. Some of the teachers are GREAT and some of the teachers are awful. Make sure that whatever you decide to do, you have strong math teachers. It makes no sense to accelerate if you are not going to have fine instruction.</p>

<p>I go to a rather good public school that is also near several excellent colleges--assume that I will never run out of math to take and my science curriculum will be built around the math courses I'm taking simultaneously.</p>

<p>Precognition, that absolutely sucks, what happened to you! My problem, I'll admit, isn't quite that dramatic.</p>

<p>"Why do you think that's the fault of the public school system? If you don't demonstrate to people that you're gifted at math, it's not everyone else's fault that you don't get placed in advanced courses."
They don't place you based on how quick you are at math. They place you based on how much math you KNOW. That, I think, we can blame on the system.</p>

<p>Do you think NOT skipping a year would make me seem less motivated about math than I actually am? Math is like, my passion. (Well, I have lots of passions. But math is up there with art and music and theater)</p>

<p>Also, do you think it's bad that I am (mostly) Asian but don't really live up to the "SUPER GENIUS HARDWORKING NERD AZN" stereotype?</p>