Validating Classes

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by armybratkl, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    I had heard a bit about validating classes when I attended SLS last summer, but I was wondering if some current cadets could offer some input to refresh my memory (and undoubtedly other appointees' as well) on the whole process.

    I would like to major in engineering, and am considering minoring in a foreign language, so I would like to validate as many classes as I can in order to make this option feasible, without overloading myself.

    To attempt to validate certain classes, do you just have to express interest in the area to take a test, or do all new cadets take the same test to see where they rank? Do you have to have a certain background (have taken certain classes or have a certain AP test score) in order to be eligible to attempt validation?

    Which classes can one validate? I am currently taking or have taken Calculus II (community college), Hon. Spanish IV, Hon. German IV, Hon. Calculus, Hon. Chem II, Hon. Physics II, Discrete Math I & II (which, apparently, is a prep for the AP stats test). So, would it be feasible to validate calc II and possibly prob/stats and progress onto Diff EQ's and Calc III (or vice-versa, whichever comes first)?

    How difficult is it to validate History, so that I could possibly take a foreign language my plebe year? I have heard that it helps your GPA to validate classes you dislike, so it would be amazing if I could validate U.S. History.

    Would it be inadvisable to validate Plebe courses if that put you into a Cow class? Or do most of these options have classes specifically for plebes who did manage to validate?

    I found my information on required classes here. Is this still accurate? I couldn't find anything that said when it was last updated.
     
  2. Katherine

    Katherine Member

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    I am also very concerned about validating classes. I would like to validate Chemistry and Calculus, if possible. My worst nightmare would be a placement in Chemistry Honors or something rather than validating the class. How often to cadets validate classes like Calculus I and Chemistry as compared to being placed in a more accelerated class? Any commentary on this is appreciated.

    Armybrat, this is copied from http://www.dean.usma.edu/AP/ and helps out with some of your inquiries.

    "Validation and Advanced Placement (AP)
    Reference: Current Directorate of Admission, United States Military Academy, West Point Annual Catalog

    Policy:
    "Cadets may be excused from (validate) certain core courses if they have sufficient knowledge of a subject to meet appropriate department’s standards. Credit earned in other colleges, Advanced Placement Examination scores, and tests administered at the Military Academy are considered in validation decisions. Advanced Placement Examination’s scores may be used in mathematics, physics, chemistry, history, social sciences, and foreign languages. Validation of core courses allows a cadet to substitute an additional elective in place of a core course. If a cadet shows unusual ability or has prior knowledge of the subject, but does not validate the course, he/she may be enrolled in an advanced or accelerated version."

    Advice to parents:
    The AP test scores will be used by academic departments as one piece of information to determine advanced placement or validation for new cadets. USMA also provides its own testing for new cadets to determine if they will be scheduled for the standard course, the advanced course; or they can validate the course. Five different departments provide USMA placement testing/validation opportunities to new cadets during the month of July. For example, an AP score of 5 in European, US, or World History is necessary to proceed with the validation of History. An AP Calculus, AB or BC, score of 4 or 5 is important in validating Calculus. An AP Chemistry score of 4 or 5 can be important in validating chemistry. English requires an AP score of 4 or 5, and a high SAT-V score for consideration to validate English composition.

    Instructions:
    Students who are considering attending USMA will list USMA (code: 2924) as an AP score recipient. If the cadet has been accepted at USMA and did not list USMA as a score recipient, he/she can request their AP transcripts be sent to USMA (US Military Academy, ATTN: O/Dean – ORD, Bldg 600 Rm 112, Swift Road, West Point, NY 10996 – 1905) by phoning 1-888-CALL-4-AP. The cadet will need to provide his/her Soc Sec No., birth date, and home address. The 2009 processing fee is $25.00 and can be paid either by credit card or billed to the home address. Scores should arrive electronically within 2 business days. AP scores should be requested no later than the second week in July, if the cadet is beginning school in the fall term."
     
  3. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    Yes, I read that, but what exactly does it mean by "is important in validating"? Can it be validated without taking those AP tests, or do you have to take the AP test in order to attempt validation, or could a high AP test score automatically validate you? If I can validate my math classes without taking the AP test, I'd rather not pay the money to take the AP test. On the other hand, if a high AP test score may automatically validate me without having to take the validation test during Beast, I may choose to pay to take the test and not have to worry about it then.

    So basically, I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of AP tests, and see if it's worth it to pay the money. Since I might take up to six different tests, that's a lot of money to be considering.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  4. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    Great questions...call admissions! They will not bite you, I promise!
     
  5. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Admissions is useless :|
     
  6. Ken2012

    Ken2012 Prospective

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    Why do you feel that way, if you don't mind me asking?
     
  7. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    My bad...didnt mean to generalize. It just happens to be that my MALO isnt really around to help as much as I wished. Im sure other admissions officers are a bit more helpful than mine :\
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  8. BeatNavy

    BeatNavy USMA Cadet

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    I'd be careful about criticizing people on the internet, especially in a coarse manner.
     
  9. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Edited since message received.

    Much better. :wink:

    One just thing just for your clarification - usually when people say "admissions" they mean your Regional Director at WP - an actual WP officer in charge of the admissions process. Your MALO is most likely a volunteer who may or may not be helpful but isn't an official "paid" member of the process, just someone who should answer your questions and offer input to both you and the academy. Although the MALO can access a database and get general information about you, your status, or file, they pretty much have an Excel type spreadsheet info - not detailed data.

    However, going back to the original question, starting with the MALO regarding validation questions would be reasonable. As would calling admissions (RD).
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  10. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Sorry. You and BeatNavy are definitely correct and I apologize.
     
  11. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    Not to be rude or anything, but if possible, could someone please answer the questions? These threads shouldn't be for strong opinions such as "admissions is useless," because that really doesn't lend to the discussion, does it?

    mom3boys - currently, it is difficult for me to call admissions, because I am busy from 7-5 Monday through Saturday. I could attempt to set time to call, but I may not get the opportunity for several weeks; I do not know. If my questions cannot be answered, I will indeed make time to call admissions, but if they can be answered here, that's all the better. :)
     
  12. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    I'll also add that it is REALLY hard to get through right now, especially in your region. It took me a week of calling, leaving emails, and voicemails. And this was as a MALO.

    Answering your question somewhat, in general it's always recommended to take the AP's. You don't know what will happen in any situation - injury, change of mind, whatever and you would certainly want those credits for civilian colleges. However, from what I understand from the admissions process, it is possible to test out of classes without the AP exam but they are both considered. If you have Calc down cold, and know you can do well on the exam there, you'll probably be fine. Keep in mind though that you'll be tired and completely unfocused during Beast when you take it. I know more than one person who simply fell asleep (auditorium, dark room) during a validation exam!
     
  13. luv2swim

    luv2swim Member

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    validating

    I am a mom not a cadet and can only pass on the slivers of info I am aware of through my cadet and my own digging online. The most helpful info IMO for really getting to know what your schedule would be can be found in the online course catalog:
    http://www.dean.usma.edu/sebpublic/curriccat/static/index.htm
    Look especially in part I under USMA Educational Philosophy and then Overview. It lists sample curricula and core requirement class numbers. You can then read up on the classes themselves in the rest of the catalog.
    Another great resource is the USMA math page. They really post a lot of information including info about the testing during BEAST.
    http://www.dean.usma.edu/departments/math/courses/ma103/ProspectiveStudents/CandidateWeb.htm

    At Beast, cadets took a math placement test, a foreign language aptitude test, and a Chemistry placement test. I think some but maybe not all were given an opportunity to take English and History validation tests as well, if they had the background/AP.

    Math: I know there is a lot of variety in the math placement, but basically there are four core courses: Modeling, CalcI, CalcII, and Prob/Stat. If you validate CalcI, you will get those first three replaced with the Advanced Core, which is Adv Multivariable Calc and Modeling/DiffieQ, so you get out of one core class that way.

    Chem: I get the impression it is very difficult to actually get out of Chem, but not that hard to get placed in the Advanced Chem. It seems to include students who have just had a solid background as well as those who have already had Chem in college.

    English & History: You can validate right out of these and most cadets consider that very desireable! There are also several versions of the history classes. There is American or World, both with advanced versions. Not sure what the criteria are, but it may have to do with your foreign language plan.

    Psych: There was no test for Psych, but if you aced the AP and are not placed in the advanced version, you should ask about that.

    For what it's worth, my cadet has had only very positive things to say about the advanced courses he has been fortunate enough to get into. If you are an engineering major, take a look at the course requirements in the catalog, including all the military science, PE, and core classes. You will see that you will definitely be overloaded during a couple of semesters if you do not manage to validate out of a couple of core courses. Good luck!!
     
  14. coffeecup3

    coffeecup3 Member

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    I have read through this thread briefly and came across being placed in advanced classes through certain ways... are classes weighted differently towards class rank/gpa since there are advance classes? Kind of like the difference between standard, honors and AP classes in high school? Just curious because I don't know how that works for colleges in general.
     
  15. armybratkl

    armybratkl Member

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    Thanks for the links, Luv2swim! They've helped me answer all of my academic-related questions, for now, at least. :]
     
  16. pedro4

    pedro4 Member

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    My plebe was placed into all advanced level classes (except phys ed) based on his ACT and AP scores and an overall evaluation of him that was done during Beast. It is harder for him, but he admits that he would have been bored in some of the basic classes. The one area I would criticize the academy on is that they do not allow foreign languages to be taken Plebe year. Why have the Cadets get stale on a very valuable skill that needs reinforcement every year?
     
  17. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Some plebes are indeed allowed to take a foreign language but it is definitely not the norm.

    armybratkl - if you can afford all AP tests then I suggest you take them. For one thing - you never know about the future. If you get hurt or sick and have to separate you can take your AP scores to another school.

    The bottom line is - during the first couple of weeks of Beast you will take validation exams. At the end of Beast you will get your schedule. You don't get to "pick" your classes, they pick them for you. The classes they place you in will depend on your high school transcripts, how you did on AP exams (or IB) and how you did on validation exams.
    They do not put a plebe in a cow class. GPA is not "weighted" like in high school.

    Math - this is tricky. If you don't validate Calc I then you will not take Calc I in the first semester. You will take modeling and then Calc I. This is frustrating for a lot of plebes.
     
  18. sterlingmom

    sterlingmom Member

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    Most cadets do not take a foreign language until 2nd year, but some start languages Plebe year. If a cadet is able to validate some of the Plebe year core courses, based on AP scores and validation tests during Beast, extra time is available to take a foreign language.
     
  19. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    I know I posted this on another thread recently, and know it's dated, but will add it here. I validated Chemistry plebe year and as a result was put in my foreign language class that year instead. However, since I'd validated a year of that as well, I was placed into a class that was nearly all cows (including my squad leader) with just a couple yearlings, and me. This was not the best for studying or even getting assignments and I switched to Economics at the semester and waited until cow year to take my next semester of language. I'm not sure if they do this anymore, but it certainly seems like it could be possible if you validate enough.
     
  20. sterlingmom

    sterlingmom Member

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    My plebe started a new language so was in a beginning level class with mostly Yearlings and a few other plebes. He had a great professor and thoroughly enjoyed the class. I imagine a plebe in a class with mostly Cows would be tough.
     

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