Should I take AP Calculus AB as a Freshman?

So, I’m a freshman in highschool (this is not a t r o o l)
And I’ve decided to take 3 aps as a freshman.
AP chemistry
AP physics 1
AP calculus ab
If you’re wondering that if I’m an ultra smart student, then no, I’m not.
I’ve already started prep for Chem and Physics 1
But I’m not so sure about calc.
I’m pretty bad at math honestly, so should I take calc ab?
I’m willing to work hard!!!
And please tell me what should I study before taking the class.

if you’re bad at math, then no, you shouldn’t take any of those APs (all of them require heavy knowledge in math and science, and are generally considered to be extremely difficult). Have you taken pre-calc already?


It is almost October and these courses are usually both semesters of school. Are you at a school where these are just one semester in the Spring, international, or home schooling?

We need to know your math and science background prior to freshman year. When you tell us math is not your strength is that just relative to other courses or do you really struggle? Did you take the PSAT or other standardized tests in 8th? Do your teachers and school counselors recommend this?

Human Geo AP and Bio AP (after HS bio) are usually a better start. I do not think a freshman on a 4 year or 3 year high school path needs to take any of these their freshman year.

There is no rush, kids get into top schools without this aggressive approach.

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NO! As other poster said, all of these require a great deal of math. My dd is taking AP calc as a senior and it is challenging.

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But, with the exception of AB itself, they don’t require calculus. The math is not that challenging in non-C physics or Chem. It’s just Algebra.

The big question for the OP is how can you be “bad” at math, yet have reached AB way ahead of schedule?

If your facility with math is actually pretty good, with a solid foundational understanding, this schedule is not a problem.

For students who are very, very strong at all of the prerequisites, calculus is relatively straightforward. Here I am talking about students who got an A or an A+ in algebra, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.

I have heard that for students who are weak at any of the prerequisites, calculus is very difficult. For some it can be brutally difficult.

“I’m pretty bad at math honestly” makes it sound like taking AP Calculus as a freshman or sophomore in high school would be a huge mistake.

I do not understand what you are trying to accomplish. There really are classes that you are not ready to take yet. You really will be a stronger student in two or three years. Taking one single AP class as a freshman in high school is a lot. Taking more than one seems like a mistake for almost anyone.


Have you completed all previous math courses (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus) already?

If so (meaning that you are four grade levels ahead in math), why do you think you are “pretty bad at math”?


As I said, I’m already taking Physics 1 and Chem.
I’m pretty confused that, Should I take Calc AB or not.
And Yes, I’m bad at math, Even thought I’m ahead of my class.
I think I just got lucky in those courses, that I passed those classes with 90+/100
But I don’t think that I do understand all those things and I’m pretty much always confused and maths is hell for me.
I know someone who skipped precalc and trigonometry and Took calc BC in 9th grade.
She isn’t a super smart student or something yet she took the course and ended up with a 5.
And yes, I go to an International school.

My high school goals are dependent on these classes. That’s why.

What are your HS goals? What do you want to major in?

If you don’t have a STRONG conceptual grasp of math, skip Calc AB this year. You’ll still be ahead. I majors where those classes are important (engineering, math, physics, some facets of CS) it’s REALLY important that you can live and breathe the math, not just survive it.

I don’t really know what to make of the educational philosophy of your school and your peers. So here’s my advice without taking those into consideration. If your high school (and beyond) educational goals involve math you need to develop a level of comfort (if not joy) with it. Sometimes that might involve taking a step back and going a little slower. I’m not sure what that would entail for you; maybe regular Calculus? I know many students view math education as a race, who can accelerate the fastest in their education, but as someone who uses math everyday in my occupation, and who is very slow and deliberate in my calculations I can assure you that math is not a sprint it is a marathon. Build up your stamina and run the race at your own pace.

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I can’t emphasize this and the rest of your post enough! If math is going to be part of your field (engineering, CS, physics, math, etc.), you do not under any circumstance want to just survive it. You need to be able to breathe it as you will be tasked to do so for the rest of your career.


I do not understand.

I did not take calculus until my freshman year at university. I ended up with a bachelors degree in mathematics from MIT (and later went on to a masters). You do not need to take calculus as a freshman in high school.

As a former math major at a top university, to me the most important thing in mathematics is to fully understand the concepts. If you forget the formulae while in the middle of an exam, you should be able to rederive them from first principles and still finish the exam (and yes this did happen to me during an exam when I was a student at MIT). You will not be able to do this unless you understand the concepts well. Also, for all of us at some point we “hit the wall” and discover that math is hard (if we stick with it long enough). When this happens, you need to understand the concepts well in order to pull through the harder parts.

What are your high school goals?

This is a huge mistake.

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This is really the key question.

If you’ve successfully completed the math curriculum through Pre-Calculus, then Calculus is the logical next step. What would you take/are you taking (as it’s almost October) instead?

If you have not completed Pre-Calc, then certainly do not take Calculus.

I’m also curious about what type of high school goals would require 9th grade calculus.

haha lol. the last part~
Yeah, So I’ve completed algebra, geometry, trigonometry. NO I HAVE NOT COMPLETED PRE CALC.
And, yes nowadays I’m grinding so that I can complete it before october end.
Lol, I want to Get a medal in ICHO and IMO. If not IMO, then at least iCHO.

That is why you are struggling. Drop back to precalc if you can.

Also, why do you want a medal in an international mathematical competition when you don’t like ( or are not good at) math? It’s good to have dreams and goals but it’s also good to be realistic.


You are not going to earn a medal in any math competition if you, by your own words, are not good in math and if you are taking courses that you are not ready for.

I was a math major. I can assure you that there is LOTs of math that you are not ready to take. Given that I only have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in math, there is some math that I am not ready to take. Math is an area where what you take today depends a great deal on what you took last week and last year and the year before, and what you are going to take next year is going to depend upon what you are taking now. Learning each step very well and fully understanding the concepts before you jump ahead is nearly always the right thing to do.

Patience is a good thing. Math is a marathon, not a sprint.


You claim that you are bad at math, and you hope to get a medal from IMO? You are joking, right? :slight_smile:


Even if you do win a medal, what good is it if you are eventually expected to have command of the material and you don’t? You’re setting yourself up to be very unsuccessful in the long run. Take pre-Calc this year. It is a very important foundation. Backfill your uncertainties on Kahn. You will still be able to compete and you won’t be a failure in the workforce if math is required as part of your job.

Speaking of that, what job are you shooting for? Some don’t require the use of calculus and above maths. Depending on your major and career, maybe faking your way through won’t backfire.

How does one fake their way through math? I’m curious.