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Hello, I'm currently a Junior in highschool and I had a few questions regarding the math requirements for applying to the USAFA. The official admissions page says it recommends a strong background in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Precalculus. However, the route I took is a little different, I first took Algebra I and waved off Geometry and skipped to Algebra II and I took Pre-calculus online over the summer and I've earned an A in all the previous classes, so now I'm taking AP Calculus AB & BC this school year so my question was if I it's recommended for me to go back and take Geometry in my senior year or not since the admissions page recommends a strong background so I'm not sure if that requires the course or not.

Thank you!
 

FlyFalcon

'26, FFS (NWP 2021)
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705
Recommends or strongly recommends never means required, however as you said important to keep in mind. Strong recommendation is because if you don't take geometry, you may struggle with the math here that involves geometry. In your case, if you can handle classes that involve geometry and prove an understanding of the geometry, there's no concern. Calculus for example pulls from both algebra and geometry. As you said you got an A and taking an AP course that involves Trigonometry ( which builds off calculus) which USAFA is well aware of.

Don't take a class just for USAFA. It's not worth it, coming from someone who did that with the one year computer science requirement. Take classes because they interest or challenge you, hopefully some of both.
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012
15-Year Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2007
Messages
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The only concern I see here is a foundation in geometry, and you can get than in a pre-calc class with trig or a class dedicated to trig.

If your math sequence hasn't had a trig focused class, or at least a significant chunk of time within another class, it's probably going to come back to bite you. I see this all the time even at the grad school level. I teach radiometry (a very applied physics class) and it often involves a lot of triangles and determining the angles between various lines and planes. Students with a solid geometry/trig background crush my class. Students with weak skills in that area find it nearly impossible and end up really struggling. My class is certainly not the only one like that - most physics classes and many engineering classes will also have similar components.

All that to say - don't go back and take geometry, but go back and take trig if you haven't had a chance to hone those skills (not all pre-calc includes trig)
 
Joined
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The only concern I see here is a foundation in geometry, and you can get than in a pre-calc class with trig or a class dedicated to trig.

If your math sequence hasn't had a trig focused class, or at least a significant chunk of time within another class, it's probably going to come back to bite you. I see this all the time even at the grad school level. I teach radiometry (a very applied physics class) and it often involves a lot of triangles and determining the angles between various lines and planes. Students with a solid geometry/trig background crush my class. Students with weak skills in that area find it nearly impossible and end up really struggling. My class is certainly not the only one like that - most physics classes and many engineering classes will also have similar components.

All that to say - don't go back and take geometry, but go back and take trig if you haven't had a chance to hone those skills (not all pre-calc includes trig)
Do you know what specific skills in trigonometry is most recommended? My school doesn’t offer a trig specific curriculum so it’s covered along with the Geometry and Precalc courses but I’d say I have a pretty solid foundation in the trig ratios, unit circle, identities, etc.
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012
15-Year Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2007
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814
Do you know what specific skills in trigonometry is most recommended? My school doesn’t offer a trig specific curriculum so it’s covered along with the Geometry and Precalc courses but I’d say I have a pretty solid foundation in the trig ratios, unit circle, identities, etc.
The biggest weaknesses I see are in understanding what the unit circle really means and all things triangles. By that I mean - using trig functions, law of cosines, law of sines, pythagorean theorem, similar triangles etc. to find angles in very complex geometries.
 

bethfin

New Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
6
Recommends or strongly recommends never means required, however as you said important to keep in mind. Strong recommendation is because if you don't take geometry, you may struggle with the math here that involves geometry. In your case, if you can handle classes that involve geometry and prove an understanding of the geometry, there's no concern. Calculus for example pulls from both algebra and geometry. As you said you got an A and taking an AP course that involves Trigonometry ( which builds off calculus) which USAFA is well aware of.

Don't take a class just for USAFA. It's not worth it, coming from someone who did that with the one year computer science requirement. Take classes because they interest or challenge you, hopefully some of both.
When you say it's not worth it to take a class just for USAFA and reference computer science, does that mean you took it and didn't need to? My son is planning to take that since it's listed as required. He is interested in it, so maybe it's a moot issue, but not sure what you mean. He's trying to be as competitive of an applicant as possible and wants to comply with all the requirements and "strongly recommended". Opinion?
 

2025 hopeful

Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
257
When you say it's not worth it to take a class just for USAFA and reference computer science, does that mean you took it and didn't need to? My son is planning to take that since it's listed as required. He is interested in it, so maybe it's a moot issue, but not sure what you mean. He's trying to be as competitive of an applicant as possible and wants to comply with all the requirements and "strongly recommended". Opinion?
On the admission side of things, USAFA wants to see that you are taking the recommended classes and hardest available classes (that you are able to handle) that your school offers. If you receive an appointment, taking a computer science class would be helpful since it is a class that you will take at USAFA and the high school class will lay that foundation.

I'll also add DD took a computer science class in high school and that is what led her to explore a computer science major and eventually pursue computer and electrical engineering. She is loving it and it all started from a math teacher suggesting the course the end of 9th grade, prior to her interest in USAFA.

If your son is interested in the class and it's strongly recommended, I would suggest taking the class in high school.
 

MDRDV

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2022
Messages
99
On the admission side of things, USAFA wants to see that you are taking the recommended classes and hardest available classes (that you are able to handle) that your school offers. If you receive an appointment, taking a computer science class would be helpful since it is a class that you will take at USAFA and the high school class will lay that foundation.

I'll also add DD took a computer science class in high school and that is what led her to explore a computer science major and eventually pursue computer and electrical engineering. She is loving it and it all started from a math teacher suggesting the course the end of 9th grade, prior to her interest in USAFA.

If your son is interested in the class and it's strongly recommended, I would suggest taking the class in high school.
Is computer and electrical engineering the computer engineering degree at USAFA? That's the degree I'm considering. I know it's different for everyone, but does your DD find it difficult? The historical amount of cadets graduating each year for that degree is very low.
 

2025 hopeful

Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
257
Is computer and electrical engineering the computer engineering degree at USAFA? That's the degree I'm considering. I know it's different for everyone, but does your DD find it difficult? The historical amount of cadets graduating each year for that degree is very low.
It's a track under the ECE majors for combined computer and electrical. She decided this route after discussing with the department and found this to be the best fit for her. She is only in her 2nd year and I'm sure classes will get harder, but so far is doing well. I will say she is very structured and organized between her sport, study times and sleep which I think helps. Time management for any cadet is essential!
 

Ranchinmom

Member
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Jan 31, 2020
Messages
73
I’d recommend AP Stats if offered for senior year. I wouldn’t regress to geometry. My son took the courses you took except AB and BC were full years each.
 

bethfin

New Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
6
On the admission side of things, USAFA wants to see that you are taking the recommended classes and hardest available classes (that you are able to handle) that your school offers. If you receive an appointment, taking a computer science class would be helpful since it is a class that you will take at USAFA and the high school class will lay that foundation.

I'll also add DD took a computer science class in high school and that is what led her to explore a computer science major and eventually pursue computer and electrical engineering. She is loving it and it all started from a math teacher suggesting the course the end of 9th grade, prior to her interest in USAFA.

If your son is interested in the class and it's strongly recommended, I would suggest taking the class in high school.
Thanks
 
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