When Your School Has The Most Annoying Prerequisite System for Science

The science system in our school goes like this (for those above average):

Freshman year: Honors Physical Science
Sophomore Year: Honors Biology
Junior Year: Honors Chemistry
Senior Year: Pick out of AP Chem, AP Bio, Honors Physics 1, AP Physics C

You need physical science before honors biology. You need honors biology before honors chemistry. You need honors chemistry before AP Chem, and honors biology before AP Bio. You need to be a senior to take honors physics, and the prerequisite for AP Physics C is CHEMISTRY. Can you believe that??? I took AP Calculus AB this year as a freshman and I want to take Physics C next year but they won’t let me because I haven’t taken chemistry, even though chemistry has nothing to do with the course (certainly, I will be more prepared for the course than most people because almost everyone taking that course is taking calculus concurrently. Only seniors at our school take Calc with the occasional junior)…

They said it was because I needed “lab experience” although on the college board website the only prereq is Calc or taking calculus concurrently.

Is there any way I can convince the teachers/administrators to let me take AP Physics C? In Calc this year I believe I have the third best grade average (B+)…I’ve outlined everything for them, they just don’t seem to understand.

Very common


In lieu of chem? No. Regardless, colleges will expect you to take chem in HS.

Now, if you’re able to fit it in without impacting another core subject, you may be able to convince them to let you take AP Physics C concurrently. Otherwise, just wait to take it until a later year.

My dd’s school had very similar pre-reqs for science. This isn’t unusual. She was able to double up on AP sciences senior year and take AP chem and physics C. Your school is ensuring you have the course sequences colleges want to see. It’s not a bad thing.

Remember that you are evaluated in the context of your HS’s offerings. If this is what you need to do, this is what you need to do.

You are not behind if you take College Physics in College.

Can you double up and take bio and chem next year?
Could you dual enroll and take Physics at a local college? (I would strongly recommend taking Algebra-based physics first, then calculus-based physics, if you go through dual enrollment. Going from 9th grade physical science to Engineering Physics at the college level is a recipe for disaster, and you can still complete both in a year.)

@MYOS1634 I have convinced my counselor to let me take the course next year…looks I need to review a lot over the summer, right?

@squ1rrel Good for you! Yes, find out the textbook, get it and read it. Khan Academy has AP Physics 1 prep, but not AP Physics C. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-physics-1

Yes, but start NOW. Start with basic Physics, then spend the summer on AP Physics 1 (Khan). While school is in session, plan on about 20mn a day on basics so that you can start with AP Physics 1 in June.

@damon30 Should I focus reviewing physics 1 or Physics C?

First, Physics, just Physics, to have a grasp of the subject. At the end of the year, switch to AP Physics 1. You’ll need to know Physics Foundation and AP Physics 1 (+2 or B ) before you start on Physics C. Don’t even touch Physics C over the summer, leave it for the regular school year. If you cover the basics then AP Physics 1 before the Fall you should be OK. Dying physics C you’ll learn how both Calculus and physics Principles work together but you’re better off knowing each, first.

Will you be taking Chemistry also or are you saving it for junior year so that you can take AP Chem senior year?
It’ll be a very strange sequence no matter what since AP Physics C tends to be a senior class.

Study physics with calculus because that’s what you’ll be taking, but start with Khan Academy. What @MYOS1634 just said above.

In my physical science class right now we are learning basic physics. How is the application of calculus in physics different from regular calc?

@MYOS1634 I probably won’t be taking chem next year.

You need to cover the big areas of physics hence the fundamentals/intro to physics (physical science is to physics what arithmetics is to algebra), then go in-depth for a couple days them through physics 1.
Calculus is just a tool to serve a purpose so you need to know the field where you’ll use the tools to know why you’ll need them, how etc.

Plan to take chem before AP chem, either summer school chemistry or full year chem junior year.