So I’m a week into my senior year and I’m already confused in math. Currently I’m enrolled in AP Calc BC. Should I drop Calc BC and replace it with AP Calc AB? I would hate to have a C or a D on my transcript first semester of senior year. If I spent 3-4 hours studying a day, I would maybe be able to pull off a B. But then again I want to enjoy my senior year and not be studying calculus all day long. I’m enrolled in 2 other AP classes, a college class, and two honors class, so my course load at the moment is very difficult. Do most kids entering any academy have Calc BC complete? Or just Calc AB. Anyone with experience, would a through understanding of Calc AB, allow me to score well on the validation test and place out of first year math at an academy?

I have no idea what the difference between Calc AB and Calc BC is, but two comments from a big picture perspective : 1) You should take the most rigorous math program your school has to offer, and excel. USNA gets a school profile, and will know what courses are offered at your school. 2) If you are contemplating bailing out of a math course because its too hard, do you have the commitment and perseverance to succeed at USNA?

Also your 7th semester grades likely won't make it in front of the admissions board. You upload your transcript thru 6th semester.

I opted for the most rigorous course selection my school offers. My counselor granted my request because of my previous successes in math classes. But I have quickly learned in my first week of school, I have not been adequately prepared for Calc BC because as you said, I haven’t taken Calc AB yet.

1) Although it isn’t the “most rigorous math class” offered at my school, it is still a very difficult class. Both Calc AB and BC are AP courses if that makes a difference. 2) I’m not necessary looking for the easier route, but more so looking for a slower paced calculus class to better learn and understand the concepts. Hopefully with a solid foundation in the basics of calculus, I would be set up for success at USNA. What are your thoughts to this? Still the same?

You are fine with AB, if you get a great grade. Better that than a poor grade in BC. Though it’s not the highest class your school has to offer — and USNA will know it — AB is the level that many mids top out at in high school. As to whether it helps you validate out of calculus at USNA, that’s a very tall order. Some plebes validate out of Calculus 1 (first semester), but very few do so for Calculus 2 (second semester). Frankly, based on your comments, you might be best served by taking Calculus 1 and 2, should you be appointed, to build a strong foundation. Now, should you be appointed, brace yourself. The workload — academics, athletics, military — is brutal. Many plebes took nothing but AP courses their senior year, which helps them handle the load. “Studying calculus all day” (or some other subject) may in fact be what you end up doing.

Whichever you decide to do, the Khan Academy has free online Calc AB and Calc BC education material if you're looking for something supplemental to the classroom. Sometimes when you hear things a different way, it sinks in.

My son took AB junior and BC senior and wished he had skipped AB. He thought there was way too much repeated material in BC and it was a waste of time to take both. I guess it just depends how strong your math background is.

The only difference between AB and BC is that BC has a much faster pace than AB because it covers a few extra units. Same material, different pace. Keep challenging yourself.

-- Your rationale makes sense. I've had my butt kicked by Calculus, and having the solid foundation helps in the long run. (I read an online description of AB v. BC, and understand the difference now). AB's probably the best choice, but keep in mind ---this is a competitive environment, and the guy that takes the higher level and does well is going to beat out the guy who takes the lower level and does well (with all other factors being equal). Ability to validate Calculus at USNA shouldn't even be a consideration .. focus on getting in, not what you are going to take when you get there. If you validate a course, you will still be taking a Math Class as a Plebe, and as MidCake points out --its gonna be hard, real hard.

This is how I have to do it at my school. I took AB last year (junior year) before my school offered BC, with the plan of taking a class at my local college, but now that they offer BC I have to take that because of school policy. The teacher emailed me and straight up told me that it will be boring until about March.

Be forewarned! AP Calc AB (Calc 1) and AP Calc BC (Calc 2) are much more rigorous in college (regardless which SA, research institute, or university it’s at). In my own opinion, take the classes where you know you can handle the challenge but don’t claim the credit! This will set you up for a great transition when you take them again next year. That being said, like others have already mentioned it’s best you focus on getting in first, don’t plan too far ahead or you’ll be left with less than you expected (happened to a colleague of mine)