Taking PreCalc for BS Admissions

So I recently found out I have the option to take PreCalculus for semester 2. Keep in mind, I’m in eighth grade.

Would taking the course help me stand out in admissions? How would I tell AOs that I’m taking the course, hopefully successfully, if all of my applications have already been submitted?

Perhaps, but not a lot. Taking pre calculus only means that you’re exceeding math in school. The top tier BS are looking for math geniuses that can contribute to their math team and win competitions (like AIME) for their school.

Oh, and to answer your second question, I think you could reach out the the school’s math department If they’re interested in you, they would recommend you to the admissions team, and that will certainly help.

Be aware that if you are accepted, your 9th grade math course is based on the placement test, not your past classes. Jamming pre-calc into 18 weeks may not give you the best foundation and result in your retaking precalc at BS.

To answer your original question, you can communicate the information, but it will not impact your application. 9th graders in calc is not rare.


I agree with the above. Math requires a lot of practice to be good at, and jamming pre calc into 18 weeks may not be the good foundation for the next math level

I am fine with this. I was planning on retaking at BS. Taking this now would just give me a “head-start” for what I’ll learn next year.

1 Like

@Claudvic We are on a block schedule at my school, so 4 courses per semester and 75 minutes each class.

@skieurope So someone taking AP Calc in eighth grade would look better than only having PreCalc completed? I understand this isn’t an option for me, but I was just wondering because I know someone applying to BS who is in AP Calc right now as an eighth grader.

Not what I said. What I meant was that no AO will say “Ooooooh, a kid taking calc (or precalc) in 8th grade. Let’s admit.”

It is not that unique, and, more importantly, is just one part of the application.

It will look better.
Surely it will not determine your application, but It would be a very strong assumption saying it will not “impact” your application.
Thinking this way, taking all applicants that taking 8th grade AP calc and calculate their admission rates. I do not believe the rate is the same as the admission rate of the whole applicant pool.

I’ll take that bet. The challenge is that data does not exist.

The issue is that many, but certainly not all, math prodigies are too one-dimensional to thrive in the typical BS environment.


Acceleration won’t have an impact. Neither does more acceleration. Now, if you excel in a national math competition, you may get a different look at a school like Exeter.


Too much acceleration in elementary/middle school can be a negative for the majority of boarding schools, with a few exceptions. There just aren’t enough courses, and they would rather not deal with outliers.

That being said, I do not think precalc in 8th with the intention of retaking it in high school is “too much.” I think it would be a modest plus factor, demonstrating academic aptitude, but as others have said academic aptitude and preparation is only one piece of the admissions puzzle.

Oh I understand now, thanks for the clarification!

I don’t think it’s going to give you an “edge” I have two math kids and they had mixed acceptances( not accepted to every school). They aren’t math nerds either. Both are accomplished in sports. One had perfect math on SSAT (not the meatiest kid), the other was 4 years ahead. I think other math/STEM factors had more impact.
Also, taking Precalc in 18 weeks isn’t a good idea. One of my kids skipped several years of math along the way but did the work in other ways. The only thing I’d advise skipping is trig. ( Can be learned in a very short time, IMO and the opinion of my kids).
On the other hand, I think a kid who went deeper in math might have an edge. The kid who did a project with math or studied math to fully understand a point might demonstrate aptitude and more. That seems to be what AOs want to talk about. One BS AO told me all about math kids like my youngest and what they were doing.
BTW, agree with other posters, 9th grade calc students aren’t that unusual. In China that’s pretty much the norm. And some schools in CA have a track so kids naturally follow that. Homeschoolers are often advanced learners as well. And some kids just love math so they self teach.

I’m a broken record on this topic and offer our son’s experience trying to jump ahead in math at Choate. FWIW.

Our son loves math (and has a very mathy job today) and was dying to get to calculus as fast as he could. He took algebra II at our local CC the summer before BS, earned an A, and passed Choate’s placement test for entering the math stream at a higher level, but the math department seriously advised against it as they feel that their algebra II course is foundational for their upper math curriculum. They gave our son the option, but the gravity of their advice to enter at algebra II caused him to do so. He was a bit bored the first few weeks, but as the pace picked up and his teacher began to teach a methodology for analyzing, problem-solving, organizing, presenting, and participating in a Choate math classroom, he did not feel advanced toward the end of the course and was very glad he “repeated.”

I will emphasize: Do not discount the part about learning how to participate in a BS math classroom. You will NOT be memorizing formulas. You will be taught first to clearly understand the problem you are trying to solve. You will learn to think logically about approaches to solving the problem without delving first into any formulaic toolkit. After that, you will learn some methods for crafting solutions. You will understand and own how to derive formulas so that you will know not only which to apply but also why, the same way a carpenter knows when to use a hammer over a saw. I remember one Parents Weekend watching three students go to the board and correctly solve the same problem three very different ways. The rest of the class time was spent discussing those various approaches and why each worked. This was completely different from the match-the-equation-pattern-to-the-one-right-formula method I was taught in high school.

It’s far more important that you learn to think like this than at what level math course you start or end. There are no prizes for accelerating in math. You can trust your BS to place you into the stream at the right point and expertly guide your progression.

Also, it is perfectly OK to reach out to the head of the math department at whichever school you choose to attend to get their advice on this issue.


And there of people out there with PhDs in math who (only) took geometry in 9th grade!

1 Like

Or Algebra I

I would strongly caution against kids pushing for the tippy-top highest level class to take when they enter BS. That goes for math, language and any other subject…and particularly for pushing to do so in all subjects.

Courses identical in name are not the same at public school, local private school, online school and BS. The latter is more demanding…based on our kids’ experience and the collective wisdom of the CC community.

Furthermore, kids’ first year at BS is disruptive to say the least. They are not continuing along their subject sequence under the same conditions, living in the same house, having laundry done for them, being told when meals are ready, having the same friends they’ve had for years, etc. The conditions of the social/life experiment have completely changed.

Kids are well-advised to pump the academic brakes a bit entering BS. It sets them up for a very successful experience, instead of struggling to recover for year(s) and being left with an overall bad impression of the school or subject(s).

What is the endpoint of kids that take pre-calc in 8th grade? What are they doing for math in 10th - 12th grades? (This amount of skipping did not exist at my school, at least when I attended).

At Choate, the curriculum extends beyond multi-variable calculus and linear algebra to seminars and research topics in modern mathematics. You can view any BS math curriculum from their website for detail. No student tops out regardless of where they start. Many BS have reciprocity with nearby colleges (Yale for Choate) for very advanced study.