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When and What AP Calculus Course Should My Child Take?
Susan Gilleran has been leading our AP Calculus class for a number of years now with PA Homeschoolers AP Online program, and has expanded her offerings now to both the AB Calculus course (equivalent to a 1st semester college calculus course), and the BC Calculus course (equivalent to a full year, 1st and 2nd semester, college calculus sequence). We've been so very pleased with her dedication to her students, and her ready ability to help students really gain the self-discipline and steady work habits needed to succeed in these challenging courses. She also works to help students gain greater appreciation for the whole field of mathematics study, and uses a broad range of Internet resources to help in this enrichment work. We've also been so pleased to see how many homeschoolers are now setting their sights high and aiming for this level of challenge-- and this article will help you decide when your student will be ready for AP Calculus. Keep posted for Susan's next article too, which will share in an engaging look at what life is like for an AP Calculus online student.
The answers to when and what AP Calculus course to take are combinations of factors. When is a matter of when your child is ready for algebra which is often a matter of maturity as well as intellect. They have to have had four years of traditional high school math classes to qualify for AP Calculus - Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. So you’ve got to fit those classes in before taking either the AB or BC course.
Once your child gets to high school they may have a choice as to what year they take AP Calculus if they’ve finished the prerequisites earlier than junior year. I usually have about an even split between seniors and juniors in both my AB and BC classes with about one or two tenth graders and sometimes even one or two ninth graders.
I strongly advise you to think twice about enrolling a ninth or tenth grader in either course because I haven’t had a lot of success with freshmen and sophomores. These courses are college level courses often demanding a maturity level that’s beyond where they’re at as freshmen and sophomores. I also often find that their dedication to calculus and self-discipline don’t match their parent’s expectations. I rely on your judgment as to the readiness of your child, so I accept students from the ninth through the twelfth grades for both classes.
If a student chooses to take AB or BC before the twelfth grade and is wondering what math class to take after that they have the option to take AP Statistics or they can take it before taking AP Calculus. If they take the AB course and develop a real love for calculus and want to take the BC class the next year there’s a half year BC class which the student can qualify to take if they got a 4 or 5 on the AB AP Exam and they can get an A or B on the mid-December mid-term exam that’s given to the BC class.
The student then joins the BC class when they return from the winter break in January and completes the year during which time the BC class covers all of the BC topics. The students who take the one semester BC course will get credit for a full year of AP Calculus BC. They will have satisfied the requirement for the AB portion of the class by the prerequisite of getting an A or B on the mid-term exam and a 4 or 5 on the AB AP Exam.
As to which course to take, AB or BC, the BC class doesn't really require that much more time than the AB class. The difference is more tied to the pace of the course and the level of difficulty of the subject matter once we get to the BC topics. They're more challenging topics and just the fact that there are more topics means there's more material to assimilate at a faster pace. Therefore the student who takes BC should be highly motivated and very good at managing their time.
Now you may be wondering what’s it like to take an AP Calculus class from Mrs. Gilleran. How does it work? Well stay tuned. There’s more to come in my next article.
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