Calculus?! the plebe-killer


5-Year Member
Mar 11, 2010
i am currently enrolled in AP Calculus at my high school. It is a very difficult course and i feel that the teacher, like most of our math teachers, is inadequate. i know AP credit doesnt carry over into MMA, and i definitely want to retake the class. Im just worried about the level that this school expects. I have a 720 math SAT and i have never had much trouble with math before. Calculus is tough for me. how difficult is the Calculus in the first trimester compared to high school calculus? where can i get help to prepare myself for this challenge?
You should be fine. Don't worry about it at all. I had very little calculus experience going into the academy and still managed to pull off A's in Calc 1 and Calc 2. However, don't expect to go in there thinking you know it all and slack off in class. Pay attention, take notes, and study the format of the professors tests/problems and you should have no problem with calculus or for that matter, any class.
Calculus is not exactly hard, I am in college right now I understand it fluently, I dare say, that it might be too easy if you don't let it overwhelm you. I had AP Calc in high school, hard as a rock, 2nd semester of calc in college is a breeze.
if you do your best in AP calc and have a pretty decent understanding of the material [a passing grade on the AP test would be a pretty solid indicator. ;) ] then you should be fine for the calc at KP.
most of the kids that it gets the better of either never took it, or never paid attention.
for whatever it's worth, i did not even bother taking the AP calc test because i knew i wouldn't pass and i still got through both calc classes my plebe year with passing grades.
don't let the place get you down before you even show up...
i took AP Calc in high school and feel that it prepared me very well for Calc I and covered some of the aspects of Calc II. i got a C in the course in high school and an A at the academy, i think it was seeing the material twice that really helped. i would advise taking as much calc and as much physics as you can while in high school.
Son scored 5 on AP Calc test, then tested out and was enrolled in Calc II first semester (at another SA). Did okay, but admitted he could have benefited more from Calc I again, in the college environment. Calc III was a killer for him - didn't catch on to the teaching style of the instructor and couldn't keep up. Just do your best.
Good points...

Even if you can waive Calc I and go into Calc II, I always recommend you take Calc 1 as a fully prepared plebe at KP. This way you should get at least a B in the course and that will help you build a solid base for your 1st or 2nd Tri and Overall GPA. Further, what else will you take that won't screw up your schedule for the credits?
Calc 3 (unsure of official title) was not a required course, but that's what was between Calc 2 and Prob/Stats
Calc III is known as Differential Equations (diff eqs) here. It is an engineer thing, so if you go deck the only pure math classes you see will be:

Calc I
Calc II
Prob & Stats
Would it help an incoming plebe to get a tutor and take a crash course in Calc before Indoc?
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I would not advise that a plebe candidate take a crash course in calculus or any other subject for that matter. If your DS/DD has been given an appointment to USMMA, he/she is more than capable enough to succeed there. The most important thing IMHO is their attitude. Many of the plebes have cruised through high school without much effort. They think they can continue on along the same path at Kings Point. If they have that mind set, they are in for a rude awakening and likely failure. The key is to KEEP UP in all their classes. That means reading all the material and doing all the assigned problems BEFORE class. That is the only way they will know whether they are understanding things. If they get behind, it is impossible to catch up. Most teachers at USMMA are more than happy to help students who have difficulty along the way. As a college professor myself, I always take mercy on my students who are really making the effort, and it is very easy to tell who is cruising and who is coming to class really prepared to learn. My DS's calculus teacher was available anytime a student needed help, including evenings and Saturdays. His roommate and his team leader helped him as well. The important thing is to talk with your DS/DD about asking for help early and often throughout the trimester. This effort can be a humbling experience for these overachieving kids who may never have needed academic help before. If your DS/DD has this mindset going in he/she will be fine. Enjoy your remaining days as a family. Things will never be the same once he/she leaves for indoc!
If you can find the money and the time, I would encourage you to get your child a tutor, especially if they are not taking AP classes and getting high B's and A's. Yes, it is possible to pass these classes at KP, but remember, a lot of kids come in with AP and sometimes community college time under their belts. A previous post mentioned some good points about where to seek help at KP, but that college professor never taught their semester's worth of work in a trimester while their students were getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning. And in a civilian college, if you are doing poorly or are overloaded with hard classes, you can drop a course. You can't do that at KP. In addition, at a civilian college you can go onto "Rate My" and do some research about a professor before you sign up for a class. Can't do that at KP either. If you think your DS or DD will be open to working with a tutor between now and indoc, I say go for it. You have nothing to lose.
Ok, NOT worry about taking extra courses before coming here....when i was a senior in high school i took very little calculus. I came here willing to learn and pulled out A's in Calc 1 and 2. The classes are going to be difficult at times and you might have professors that are frustrating but you NEED to find help. i just want to state what was previously said, that if you were person that cruised through high school and never asked for help...get ready to because it is not easy at KP.

This goes for any subject. honestly, you don't have to be extremely smart to go here. it comes down to how determined you are to not fail out of here.