Advanced Placement courses offer students the opportunity to to take classes at the college level -- and possibly earn college credit if they perform well on the AP exam. AP Calculus is a rigorous course that will provide students a challenge, but can also have advantages such as the potential to earn college credits, improving the competitiveness of college applications and better preparing students for college-level work.
Preparation for College-Level Math
Students who take AP Calculus get a taste of college-level work. They're better prepared for college-level math courses because they've practiced the kinds of study skills needed to succeed at that level. According to the "Washington Post," a University of Texas study found that students who take AP courses, and who were able to take more advanced courses in college as a result, earned better grades in those courses than students who took introductory college courses.
Competitive College Applications
Many high schools award a weighted grade-point average for grades earned in AP courses. Therefore, if a student earns an A in AP Calculus, he'll receive a 5.0 instead of a 4.0. This can raise the cumulative GPA beyond a 4.0, making students more competitive for scholarships and college admissions. Grades are one of the top criteria used to evaluate college admissions as is the nature of the curriculum.
AP Calculus is an academically rigorous course. Even students who earn a lower passing grade in the course will be seen more favorably by admissions officers because they took a more rigorous curriculum. AP Calculus may be viewed more favorably even than other AP courses since it is one of the most demanding that a student can take.
Verona Schools also says AP Calculus is best suited for students who plan to major in areas that require calculus. By taking this course in high school, you can show college officials that you're committed to your plan of study, which can improve your chances of getting into more competitive programs.
Potential College Credit
Some colleges and universities will award college credit to students who earn at least a 3 on the AP exam, though some require scoring a 4 or 5. Verona Schools notes that students who take both AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC -- basically Calculus I and Calculus II in most college catalogs -- have the potential to earn two semesters of college math credit, tackling topics as advanced as differential and integral equations. Students who take both courses and score well on both exams can earn more college credit while in high school, which can allow them to take fewer courses in college -- possibly saving tuition money and graduating from college sooner.
Better Placement in College
Incoming freshmen are placed in appropriate introductory classes based on placement testing and other criteria. Students who take AP Calculus may be able to avoid math placement testing and go right into a more advanced math class. This can position them to take a more demanding curriculum throughout their college education, which can help them qualify for scholarships and be more competitive in the job market. Students who are majoring in a math field can also get a jump start on their program requirements, freeing up credits to pursue electives and get a more well-rounded understanding of their discipline.
- Verona Schools: A Guide to AP Calculus AB and BC for Students and Parents
- U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity: Advanced Placement
- California State University: Characteristics and Performance of Advanced Placement Classes in California
- Liberty High School: AP Calculus AB vs BC
- Washington Post: Study Finds Benefits to Advanced Placement Courses
- College Board: AP Calculus AB Frequently Asked Questions
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