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Calculus Placement..... Calc 1,2 or 3?

zebra0613zebra0613 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
Okay so AP Calc test is this Wednesday, and I am freaking out, not because of the test but because of what classes I am going to take next year. I was doing quite well in the class till about the end of third quarter due to a surgery that kept me out for a week and the onset of senioritis. I am getting my 3rd quarter grade soon because I had some extra time to make up the work but my grades for AP Calc AB are probably gonna look like A,A,A-/B+,A-/B+ so I didn't do entirely bad in the class but I know I would be lucky to get a 3 on the exam. I also feel like I didn't retain/forgot somethings earlier in the year.

So my real over all question is would it be a bad thing to just start all over at Calc 1 at WPI? or push it a little and start out at Calc 2? Or take the giant leep and just try and get into Calc 3? I mean some kids havent even taken calc so its not like I would be the only one in the class, and I really don't have any classes I am looking to take by skipping the calc classes.

P.S. I am gonna be an Electrical & Computer Engineer with a Minor in Entrepreneurship
Post edited by zebra0613 on

Replies to: Calculus Placement..... Calc 1,2 or 3?

  • gsmommagsmomma Registered User Posts: 610 Member
    Have you taken the WPI online math placement test yet? I would suggest that you take that as soon as you can to give you an idea of where you should start. Calc 3 at WPI is one of the toughest freshman classes- especially for kids who start in Calc 3. Many kids "NR" the class. It isn't a bad thing to start in either Calc 1 or Calc 2.
  • HPuck35HPuck35 Registered User Posts: 1,630 Senior Member
    WPI has you take a math placement test to determine the appropriate level of calculus to start in. You should take the test before you sign up for classes, but don't rush into it. Get as much done with your classwork and then take the test. WPI goes by the placement test and not so much by the AP score.

    I view engineering (I am an old retired engineer) as the ART of mathmatically describing physical systems. You make a model (be it a finite element model or just a simple equation and everything in between) of the physical system, test it to a set of known conditions and results to validate the model and then see how the model reacts to new conditions. To be able to do this you need to understand the theory behind the math. Therefore, IMHO one needs to be well versed in math. Don't try to stretch yourself too much in your math course selection, stay within your comfort zone. It will make things easier in the long run.
  • CowtownSlimCowtownSlim Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    S's placement test says take at least calc 3 for A term, but email also says to assume BC calc AP is a 4, and therefore to sign up for calc 4 A term pending the actual test result (with the option to alter the sched later if score doesn't pan out). First, is this nuts? Second, what math do you take B term if you take Calc 4 A term?
  • gsmommagsmomma Registered User Posts: 610 Member
    ^It does make sense. If he is comfortable with the placement test results, he can take Calc 4 A term, otherwise, Calc 3 may be a better way to go. He would take Differential Equations or Statistics, or any other Math to fulfill his math requirements for his intended major.
  • CowtownSlimCowtownSlim Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    GsMomma,you made me nervous saying that many kids NR calc 3. Makes me wonder about calc 4. I would hope advisors wouldn't steer a kid into failure. As to how he feels about placement tests, if he gets a 4 or 5 on the BC calc AP, the criterion for entering calc 4, not sure how else he is supposed to have an intuition about the appropriate course beyond what the algorithm says.
  • gsmommagsmomma Registered User Posts: 610 Member
    If he took both AB and BC in high school, and did well, he should be fine with Calc 4. WPI has the option for kids to start in Calc 3, and get retroactive credit for Calc 1 and 2, no matter how they did on the placement tests- if they pass the class. I think that many kids attempt to start in Calc 3, without really being prepared. Combined with being the fist term at college, they do poorly in the class.

    My D placed into Calc 3 (she only had the option of AB in HS), and did well in the class, but at one point, she wasn't sure is she was going to pass.

    At the president's speech at Orientation, he said that all students must remember 3 things at WPI: Go to class, do the work, and ask for help.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    Also, you can call or email the Academic Advising office if you have questions:


    I found the WPI staff to be very responsive to any questions/concerns we had.

    They are used to and expect a certain amount of moving around within Calc classes at the start of A term. They told parents to advise their students to take the Calc level suggested by the placement test. If you know enough to be in Calc 3 and take Calc 1 instead, you will get a false sense of the workload at WPI, especially with 7-week terms. Then you have to readjust when all of your classes are hard.
    The other downside to taking Calc 1 and 2 if you are truly prepared for Calc 3 is that you have less space in your schedule to take electives. When my son starting looking at the course catalog online he kept finding courses outside of his major and other requirements that he wanted to take and wished he were coming in with some AP credits!
    So definitely take the placement test and follow their advice.
  • IlovecolgateIlovecolgate Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    how many points do I need to score on Math placement test to be on MA1023 Calculus III?Right now I have 20/33, just a little review and I will finish the rest, is that called cheating?
  • CBBBlinkerCBBBlinker Registered User Posts: 3,387 Senior Member
    S, a rising senior at WPI majoring in ECE, took AB Calc in HS. He placed into Calc III (via the WPI test) for A term freshman year, and then took Calc IV in B term. Calc III was quite difficult, but he got through it. (He received credit for Calc I & II). WPI is all about collaboration and project work, so S has found students really willing to help each other. (Knock on wood, he has not received any NRs.)

    I would go with the results of your placement test.
This discussion has been closed.