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Honors Pre-AP Calculus Grade.../1 Percent, Can it ruin my chance?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by tiger50, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. tiger50

    tiger50 5-Year Member

    Aug 18, 2011
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    Hey everyone,
    I have been fumbling over this topic for a while now personally and with family members, and it just dawned on me that you guys might be able to help me out. Anyway heres the story.
    I have always been a great math student. Ever since elementary school, I have been ahead of my peers. I took high school math in middle school, and I was (and am) one year ahead of the Junior Class in Mathematics. Now another variable here is that I have been constantly moving around. My father is in the military, and I am now at my third high school. As I have been in quite a few different places, the curriculum and the rigor of math has been greatly varied. I have noticed this. I went from Straight A's in Advanced Mathematics throughout my entire life to a less than reputable grade in the first quarter of my junior year. I had a terrible first quarter grade (school year is divided into two semesters, one semester = 2 quarters). For the sake of it all, I'll go ahead and reveal what I got. I had a C+ for my first quarter Honors Pre-AP Calculus grade. I have been aware of my performance in this class all quarter, and have high-tailed it all the way through. The class is rough, and I don't mean to whine, but the teacher is pretty strong as well.
    Now that you know the story, I need to know what I should do. I do know that I want to take AP Calculus. Now there are two Pre-Calculus classes: the one that I am currently in (Honors Pre-AP Calculus) and an regular Pre-Calculus class. The difference is is that the Pre-Calc class goes slower and spends more time on subjects, making it easier to understand. Also, the problems on the tests are not designed to the aspiring AP student. Now, I do know that I want to take AP Calculus. That's been a high school dream of mine. Now you don't have to take the Honors Pre-AP Calculus to get into the AP Calculus class in senior year. You can get a waiver if you take the regular Pre-Calc class. But that's not my chief concern here. I am worried about my performance in this class and how it will affect my GPA, but most importantly, my ability to learn!
    My teacher suggest going down to the regular class, and my parents are telling me its up to me. My college brother says that if its not working out and is not helping, to go ahead and switch down. That has been the last thing I have wanted to do, but, to save my GPA and ironically prepare myself better for AP Calc next year, I think that's my only option. I just wanted to get your guys's opinion on that. I would appreciate any help!

    Another question I have is about the Admissions boards. My freshman year, I had a 4.0 at a Department of Defense School overseas. I took the most challenging and advanced classes available to a freshman. Then I moved into a tight knit and academically strong school in Louisiana. I ended up with a 3.57 as my sophomore GPA. I had 3 B's, two of which were 89's. Now, this continues to kill me. I came so close to two more A's (90-100 = A), and I didn't make the cut. And if you do the math, instead of having a 3.8 GPA, I would have had a 3.95...
    This kills me everyday. How I came so close to the point that one test or a not-as-strong final exam could wreck my GPA. This was in an elective and my English class. My question is:

    1) Would it be okay to talk to my admissions officer about this? Could I let him know how close I came and why? I know I wasn't feeling well when I took the elective final exam. Will the Academies look at the percentages of the grades, or just the letter grade?
    2) Do you guys think this is a major setback? Will this affect me in such a way that could harm my consideration to the Academies?

    I have not stopped in my academic charge coming into my junior year at a new high school. Most of my classes are Senior AP classes, and I am in the upper percentile in every one of those classes. I try not to let it get to me, but I feel that my sophomore year as well as my Pre-Calc dilemma is really busting me up.

    I would appreciate any help. Thanks guys, and I hope everyone had a merry Thanksgiving weekend.

    USAFA Class of 2017 Hopeful
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  2. ctuma2

    ctuma2 5-Year Member

    Mar 20, 2011
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    Your GPA is not everything. The Academy likes to see people taking rigorous courses and earning decent grades with them. I have met a current cadet at the Air Force who told me he earned a 3.6 GPA. My GPA as an applicant is 3.56 which is due to the number of AP and Honors courses I have taken. My junior year, I took 4 APs and 1 Honors class which is considered a very rigorous course load and no one else took it. I earned Bs in all my classes and just like you two of those were 89s. The way I look at it, I may have a crappy GPA but I believe that my character and extra curricular activities make up for it. Additionally, you have the SAT/ACT to show what you are capable of. As long as you are well-rounded and have good SAT scores, you should be fine. I would stick with the Honors class as long as you have the drive to do your best and bring the grade up to a B.

    And who knows, this might be the setback you talk about when writing your essay next year. If you show that you got up on your feet and took the challenge, it will show that you are of strong character and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals.
  3. 1017225

    1017225 5-Year Member

    May 10, 2011
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    daniel- My opinion, and this is only my opinion based on observation, is that Calculus takes time for some to understand. Unlike algebra and the -ometries, many people have an "Ah-Hah" moment in calculus. I took Ap calc straight out in junior year. During the first semester, I did alright grade wise, but I didn't understand what in the world any of it meant. Then at some point (I think it was integration) I suddenly realized what I had been learning. I could more or less visualize what questions were asking rather than just going through the motions. Many of my classmates had this same revelation at some point in the class, some earlier than others.
    My advice to you is this; if you have that "Ah-Hah" moment PRIOR to scheduling for senior year, go for the AP. Having the foundation from pre-ap will give you a base from which to grasp the "new" material in the AP class. However, If you get to the week or two before scheduling for senior year, that'll be a good time to have a heart-to-heart with yourself and your family.

    Now in the mean time, find someone in you class who gets it, ask him/her to try and explain it to you in as many different ways as possible, thereby allowing you a better chance of finding a way to explain the material in a more relatable sense (teachers aren't usually all that great at this... They've taught the same material over and over in the same way for years... doesn't lend well to teaching the material any differently, whereas someone who understands the ideas behind it may be able to explain it in a way that is more akin to your learning style)

    I also agree with ctuma2 in that GPA isn't everything... I took 4 APs and 2 honors science classes junior year and am in 5 more APs and an honors spanish. Academies (and all other colleges really) scrutinize and really love to see strength of schedule. A "B" in an AP is worth more than an "A" in a regular class in the same subjects. And on another note... Study the math for SAT, sounds silly, but for me the math on the SAT was all stuff I learned in 7th and 8th grade.... Sucked.

    Anyways, the end choice is yours, this is just advice from a guy one year older than you :biggrin: The buck doesn't stop here!
    Best of luck to you next year when you're applying to the academies :thumb:
  4. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016 5-Year Member

    May 23, 2011
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    Past mistakes are past mistakes. You're wasting your time worrying about them. But rest assured, it's always better to challenge yourself with difficult classes and pull Bs than slack and get easy As.

    But from now on, get As. Take the hardest classes your school offers, and get As in all of them. Don't settle for less. Get yourself a tutor, take supplemental classes in the summer, do whatever it takes. Show the admissions office you have the willpower to buckle down and get things done.

    I took Pre-Calc Honors in sophomore year. Like you, I managed to pull a C in the first semester. I turned it around in junior year, and got As in both semesters of AP Calculus AB. The C is regrettable, but keep moving forward and don't look back.

    Make sure you mention your unique circumstances to your liaison officer during your interview. The academy will take that into account when reviewing your profile.
  5. haleym

    haleym 5-Year Member

    Mar 1, 2011
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    If you know you did your best and got a C+, then that's all you can do right? I know what you mean when it comes to that class, however I am not (nor have I ever been) a math oriented person; I am definitely better in creative subjects such as english. This year I decided that hey, it'd be a great idea to take AP bio, AP stat, precalc, and AP lit (at my school we have 5 hrs, my other hour is band- I honestly love band and would never be willing to give it up. nerdy, i know :redface: )! I got a C+ in precalc as well, and also two Bs in bio and stat, but I know I did my very best. Granted, I was really disappointed, but I decided I can't beat myself up for it- I am not at all the type of person who is great at everything and can ace every single advanced class, I have to work very hard for it. All you (and I) can do is hope that the Academy understands that, and rewards us for working so hard as opposed to those who didn't work as hard but pulled out an A. If you like math, go for it and keep giving it your all. Show the Academy you're up for a challenge, and even though you might not always come out on top, you're not afraid to try again. :thumb:
  6. matt123456

    matt123456 5-Year Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    I read up to the part where you got a C+ in pre cal..... I used to be something like you. I had a C- in precalculus and I still took AP BC calculus. I took it because I really wanted to further myself in math.

    ...I got a 61 in the first quarter in AP calculus. (Really bad grade but I'm not concerned.

    Right now im passing that class with little difficulty. Just try to study harder I guess.

    if you start slow and finish hard that will show something on your transcript (I think :confused:)

    my bro took all the regular classes and scores B and A's yet he still got accepted straight into USAFA.
  7. Bill1899

    Bill1899 5-Year Member

    Nov 14, 2011
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    CTUMA2: Would you be willing to share the SAT/ACT scores that went along with your 3.56 GPA. I am currently a junior and my GPA is about the same with multiple honors/AP classes. I am trying to figure out where I need to be on the SATs.

    Thank You

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