AP Bio or AP Physics B

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Yacht Rock, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock New Member

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    DS just completed sophomore year at a boarding school and is trying to decide whether to take AP Bio or AP Physics his junior year. DS feels that when he applies to USNA at the beginning of his senior year, it would look more favorable if his transcript listed AP Physics B vs. AP Bio.

    He has completed Conceptual Physics (freshman) and Honors Chem (sophomore), as well as, Honors Geometry (freshman), Honors A2Trig (sophomore). All solid A's except Chem which was an 86 (the horror!). His anticipated core course load over the remaining two years is as follows:

    Junior
    AP Bio
    AP US History
    AP English
    Honors Spanish 4
    Honors Pre-Calc
    Plus sports and 3 school singing groups

    Senior
    AP Physics B or C
    AP Government
    AP Calc BC
    AP Spanish
    AP Euro Lit

    His Chem teacher who is also the department head made a good point. If he enrolls in AP Bio, and needs to drop down to Bio, due to heavy course load, he can. If he takes AP Physics B his junior year and wants to drop down, he can't - there isn't a regular Physics B option. Further the teacher noted that if he delays AP Physics another year, he will have another year of math under his belt. Right now he could not take AP Physics C since Calc is a pre-req. He could during his Senior year.

    I've read in previous posts that USNA prefers Physics over Bio. But does it really matter if at the completion of a student's junior year (presume AP Bio completed) the student has proven academic success in all areas, especially STEM courses? In other words, isn't it more important to demonstrate a variety of accomplishments; academic passion and ambition, school leadership positions, above average SAT or ACT scores, play and captain a varsity sport(s), service to community, etc. vs. pointed STEM courses?

    I know admissions to USNA (and other academies) is very competitive. But I think he is over-analyzing course selection. Comments appreciated.

    FWIW - he is fascinated with Aerospace Engineering, Bio Med Engineering, and Physics and just wants to serve his country as a soldier abroad.
     
  2. kl3661

    kl3661 Member

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    USNA definitely looks at physics better, but what's more important is doing well in your classes. I would take bio to do well, not take physics and do horribly in it just to show the admissions that I took it

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
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  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    If you think you'll do equally well in both courses, take physics.
     
  5. Voyager20

    Voyager20 Member

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    Hello Yacht Rock.
    FYI, AP Physics B is no longer an option with the CollegeBoard. AP Physics B was last administered in May 2014. The algebra based physics (Physics B) was split into two courses AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2; whereas, the AP Physics C is calculus based. AP Physics 1 & 2 is considered a two year high school course sequence; however, some schools are opting to try and finish it in one year.

    The CollegeBoard, I believe, recommends not taking AP Physics C which has two options - Mechanics or Electricity & Magnetism without having some physics prior to these classes. One path some students have followed is AP Physics 1 in 11th and AP Physics C (one option only) in 12th. It is not recommended that students take Honors Physics then take AP Physics 1 ...it should be an one or the other.

    Since, your DS has not yet taken any type of Biology or Environmental science and has an interest in Biology - I agree with your suggestion of AP Bio in 11th and AP Physics in 12th. Personally, I think an understanding of biology and the mechanics of our surroundings is important or at least having some exposure is beneficial. Besides, USNA will know that your DS will be taking AP Physics in 12th which should be sufficient - I would not think that you have to finish it in 11th. Remember, though. that there is no Bio Med engineering nor a Biology major at USNA. You mentioned Bio-med engineering as a possible interest, Aerospace Eng and Physics are majors that exist.

    Food for thought, my DS looked at a few colleges he might be interested in as well as USNA 's credit validation page to see what courses he might be able to knock out of the way through AP exam and/or validation when making his 4 year course plan for high school. The goal was to open up some space if he attended the USNA. Plans do change though - now he is a rising senior, but having that plan before 9th started did help him stay on course.

    Best of luck.
     
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  6. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    Physics. Especially if he's a future Group 1 major. Take Physics B this year, Physics C (E&M) next year. If he's confident with his math and science, he could try Bio this year and Physics C next year, but it's important to take Physics C if offered.

    Having a solid Physics background along with Calc BC and being able to validate or cruise through Calc I/II and Physics I/II at USNA will do wonders for his quality of life and open many doors.

    Even if he doesn't do as well, it won't be his first time being exposed to the material at USNA, which is what kills a lot of youngsters (especially second semester with E&M).
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
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  7. falconchic88

    falconchic88 Member

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    My recommendation would be AP Chem JR year if offered and AP Physics C senior year. If AP Chem is not offered, then do the AP Bio Jr year and AP Physics C senior year. According to the Dean of Admissions, USNA looks heavily at AP Chem, if its offered, take it.
     
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  8. Jillgorman

    Jillgorman New Member

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    DS had no AP Chem option at his school. He took AP Bio bc his school would let him take AP Physics until after he had pre-Calc. (He ended up with a 5 on AP Bio exam, a 36 on science section of ACT and an 800 on SAT 2 in Bio - none of which were sent to Navy for application purposes because "they didn't ask for them". UGH!! ) Then took AP physics his senior year with AP Calc. It definitely helped to have that Calc background!! He said it would have been a lot more difficult taking it his junior year with only honors pre-calc at the same time.
     
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  9. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    Also, AP World History over AP Euro. Validation opportunity there.
     
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  10. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock New Member

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    Thanks to all for your advice and opinion. Much appreciated. Thanks to @Voyager20 for the correction on AP 1 and 2. DS's school does offer AP Physics 1 this year (no AP Physics 2). DS read everyone's posts and, despite my mild disagreement, is leaning towards AP Physics 1 Junior year, and AP Bio + AP Physics C Senior year. I said what about the suggestion for AP Chem? He said since Bio Med Major is not available at USNA, and he prefers Physics over Chem, and thus would like to focus on Physics.

    Here's an additional wrinkle. He shared with me that he also wants to take AP Engineering (1 semester) his senior year. I said, you cannot take 6 classes(including 2 AP sciences), play a sport each season, participate in chamber singers (7th class), and take on leadership positions (honor committee, monitor, etc.). You won't have a free period during the day to study! I told him AP Physics C will cover some Engineering and thus AP Engineering is not necessary. Is this correct?

    Also if he takes 2 sciences senior year plus AP Calc BC, is it okay to not take a language? In other words, no AP Spanish - Spanish would end after his junior year with Honors Spanish 4. If no language senior year, at least he would have 1 free period.
     
  11. MammaMia

    MammaMia Member

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    Trust your son. DS took 5 APs (which required 8 AP exams at the end of the year) plus an honors language class plus theology (required and not available in honors level), played 3 varsity sports and a club sport, had a leadership position, and no free period - and did just fine. He knew he could do it, and he did. Was I worried? Heck, yeah. But he charted his course and knew he was responsible for his own success. AP Engineering is not necessary, but if he wants to take it because he's interested in it, he'll do fine. AP Physics C without calculus background is tough but do-0able. DS taught himself basic calculus over the summer to be able to take the class concurrently with AP Calc. He got As in both. He never took AP Chem (he took honors chem in 10th and then AP Physics B and C). Good luck to your son - sounds like he's not afraid of challenging himself, which is great.
     
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  12. Daughnworks

    Daughnworks Member

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    How are university classes handled? I have a kid at a Math and Science School, only one in our state and it accepts 125 juniors per year. They live about 250 miles away on a Univ campus. Instead of taking 11th grade American history, he took Univ. US History 2. Instead of taking English as an 11th grader, he took 11th grade Honors Eng in 10th grade and 1st year Univ English this year. He will take another year of univ. English next year. He'll have 12 hours of Univ Mandarin. He's fine in sciences, 2 years of each - bio, chem and physics all with labs.
     
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  13. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    Validation exams for all of those. American History alone, unfortunately, doesn't validate any core course. He might be able to work with the history department to get some history elective validated. He will need to bring a transcript, syllabus, and coursework to help his case for validation.

    USNA does not transfer credits. Everything must be reviewed, and then validation credit may be offered depending on the determination of the review board and department policy.
     
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  14. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    Just out of curiosity, there is no such class as "AP Engineering". Do you know what other class your DS might have been referring to? Perhaps AP English and the abbreviation threw him?
     
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  15. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock New Member

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    You are correct - no AP Engineering. The class offered is actually called "Advanced Engineering." At his high school, "advanced" = AP, but in this case there is no AP. Thus I should have listed the class as "Advanced Engineering."

    DS has decided to take AP Physics 1. He wants to complete as many physics classes as possible and push the more difficult AP Bio (his words, not mine) to senior year.
     
  16. bandad

    bandad Member

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    I agree with Falconchic88. DS just finished Youngster year. He, like all Mids, must take/validate Chem 1/2 and Physics 1/2. DS had Honors Chemics (Chemistry and Physics), AP Chemistry and AP Physics in HS. DS validated Chem 1 and struggled a bit in Chem 2 at USNA. They say Chem is the Plebe killer. From what I could tell, DS had an easier time in Physics at USNA (didn't validate), as compared to Chem, even though I thought he was better prepared for Chem. So, I agree with others that it is best to take AP Physics over AP Bio, but I suggest kids take AP Chem before AP Bio as well if offered. There is no magic formula, and our kids and experiences are different, but wanted to post DS experiences in HS and USNA.
     
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  17. Joedoe

    Joedoe Member

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    Take AP Chem over Bio if offered. I took APChem, APBio and AP Physics in high school, validating the chem as well as calc here. So I started my plebe year with chem2 and differential equations and took physics my second semester. They offer a bio course here but with no biology related majors, the class seems limited to mids who are maybe hoping to go going medical corps. The core curriculum here leans towards the math and chem/physics related sciences.
    I took 2 APsciences in my junior year of high school and was a 3 season varsity athlete. It's doable.
     
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  18. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock New Member

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    Hmmmm. Helpful input. He corresponded with a plebe last night who graduated his high school. Plebe said USNA Chem was the toughest class ever and received a B (otherwise all A's). Need to double check to see what this student's science class load was junior/senior year, specifically if this Plebe took AP Chem in HS.

    Since Chem is considered a "plebe killer", I can appreciate why admissions likes to see AP Chem in HS. I'm pretty sure DS was not planning to take AP Chem prior to finishing HS, in favor of Physics 1 and Physics C. He's running out of available slots. However the above input may persuade him otherwise. I know DS was concerned about the junior year AP US History/AP Bio workload combo and thus opted for AP Physics 1 thinking it would not be as difficult. Following the advice of @falconchic88 @Joedoe @bandad I'll suggest the AP US History/AP Chem combo junior year. Since he just completed Honors Chem sophomore year, taking AP Chem junior year seems logical.


    Otherwise, in order to fit AP Chem in, he may have to drop his language (AP Spanish) senior year so he can take 3 science classes (regular Bio vs AP Bio, AP Chem, and AP Physics C). Seriously I am in awe of the capacity and ambition of the above posters.
     
  19. Joedoe

    Joedoe Member

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    I took regular required seminar chemistry my sophomore year. Was considering AP chem for my senior year but on the advice of my chem teacher I took APchem junior year. In his experience seniors taking it had a tougher time catching up with the material. Just something to consider. If I had to do it again, I'd probably skip the APBio.
     
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  20. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock New Member

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    Thank you. Would you have skipped AP Bio and taken regular Bio or skipped Bio all together?
     

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