Math Courses in HS


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Apr 16, 2008
Would it be okay for the admissions process if I took:

Algebra I
Geometry Honors
Algebra II Honors
Pre-Calc Honors

I don't think I'll be taking Trig. Is this a problem?
The more math you can take the better. If you can squeeze in trig and calculus it would be to your advantage in the admissions process.
From what I've seen, you really need something else after pre-cal. My son took stats...hindsight=20/20...he's kicking himself for not taking calculus. Math is his biggest worry for next year at USMA.
In my school Algebra II included trig, so you might want to check on that. Also, my admissions officer strongly recommended calculus because it makes you more competitive in the application process and it helps when you take calculus at USMA. I am currently taking honors calculus as a hs senior, and its not an easy course, and I have heard its not any easier at USMA. I personally would rather know the basics of calculus going into USMA then struggling over everything once I am there.

This is a typical sequence for a high school student who begins freshman year in Algebra I. If I recall from my kids, pre-calc also includes trig. It would be nearly impossible to add Calc to this sequence, so I suggest making sure that you register for the highest level possible in your school. It seems like that's your plan, so excel in those classes. If you can fit Statistics into the schedule, it couldn't hurt.
Go to summer school to clear one or two of those other math classes so you can take calculus.
Go to summer school to clear one or two of those other math classes so you can take calculus.

To the OP:

every high school offers algebra I, geometry and algebra II in the summer. they have to because people sometimes flunk them during the year and they are necessary for graduation. i think it's better to take a non-honors version of one of these in the summer and calculus as a senior than to take only honors but stop at precalc in high school. in my high school, a lot of the college-bound kids don't even stop at calculus. a popular math sequence here has calculus in 11th grade and you get to take multivariate calculus in 12th. here, math sequences are actually decided in 6th grade, which is the 1st yr of middle school- you only break out from the math sequence you chose in 6th by flunking or by doing summer school.

if you're going to take one of these in the summer, you may find you will have to do it sooner than later, since your school may not offer more advanced math classes like precalc during the summer.

EDIT: wanted to mention one other thing some people do around here- some people have taken precalc during the summer at the local community college. community colleges generally offer these classes for college students who aren't ready for calculus yet, but highschoolers can take them too. you could do that and then take calculus back at your high school as a senior.
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^^^ This is not necessarily true, our school system does not allow you to take summer school to get ahead, it is only for those that fail the exit exam.
Our school does however allow you to take courses online or at the CC to get ahead. To do so, you must take your placement exam and be seated through them. This can work against you since you might have to retake a math course.

My suggestion is to take the very hardest course schedule that is available to take. If honors is the highest than take all of the honors you can take, if AP/IB is available than take those instead. The SA's look at your overall transcript and want to see that you have pushed yourself to the hardest limit.

Our son took everything including stats and deviational math (I think that is what it is called) In the end he had 6 math courses, all of them honors and no grade lower than a B. DS loaded his electives with classes like Latin (also took french) and he had 3 AP history courses on top of his requirements. So look at your overall schedule and make sure that you have put the harder courses in, a 2nd language as an elective will look better than taking teen living! At our school you can double up on sciences as electives, such as AP Bio or AP Chem while taking Physics
Back in my day you could get by just fine without Statistics. Interestingly enough, though, that lack of Stats has come back to haunt me in industry. Go figure. Not sure what the curriculum requires these days, but as my father always said to me, "El saber no ocupa lugar" (Knowledge doesn't take up any space).

I strongly recommend that you take full-bore Calculus in high school if you can. At best, you'll be able to validate a semester or two of it. At worst, you will have seen the stuff before. If that means taking Stats or Pre-Calc during summer school (as Luigi suggested), I'd say do it.
Would it be okay for the admissions process if I took:

Algebra I
Geometry Honors
Algebra II Honors
Pre-Calc Honors

I don't think I'll be taking Trig. Is this a problem?

From your other posts you are a high school sophomore - correct? Unless your PSAT of 187 is particularly lopsided then your PSAT math score was about a 60 - is that correct?
Hopefully that will translate into a Math SAT of at least 600 - this will show the academy you have an aptitude for Math.

I am going to make the assumption that you have taken Algebra I in 9th grade and Geometry H in 10th grade. If you have done well in Geometry then the next math course to take is the highest level for 11th graders that your school offers. Usually that will be Algebra II Honors, followed by Pre-Calc in 12th grade.
Algebra II usually gets you started in Trig and most Pre-Calc curricula include Trig as well.
You may want to speak with the Math Department Head at your high school for the best guidance.

What West Point wants - note this may or may NOT coincide with other Academies:
They want a student to come in with the ability to take Calculus I and Calculus II. They want students to come with a good FOUNDATION of Math instruction.

Taking Calculus does NOT allow you to validate Calc I at West Point. Passing the AP Calc exam does NOT allow you to validate Calc I at West Point.

Sometime during Beast - usually when you are really tired (after a couple of weeks) you will take a placement exam. You will not be allowed to use a calculator. You will have to factor and solve all equations by hand. This is a difficult test and many cadets who took calculus or passed AP Calc do not even qualify to take Calc their first semester.
They are put into Modeling and then take Calc or Pre-calc the second semester.

The reason for this - high school math curriculums vary widely across the country. Some kids get a very strong math foundation and some kids learn how to factor and graph on the TI-83 but not on paper.
See this link about math at West point:

And this link about required knowledge:

I am sorry that some of the above posts may have some inaccurate information - the requirements of the different academies are confusing.

Please also refer to these guidelineson the USMA admissions website:

If you haven't already, I suggest that you go to USMA-admissions and sign up for the mailing list.
thanks guys

okay thanks a lot for the advice, eveyone, especially to Just a Mom. I'll definitely take that into consideration, and I'll see what I can do about taking classes either at my HS or the local community college this summer if I can.
No problem - at my kid's high school everyone takes Algebra I in 8th grade so they all can get to Calc in senior year and about 1/3 do.
When kids transfer in for 9th grade without Algebra I they often "double up" in Math - take two math classes in one year. It is tough and can wreak havoc with your schedule - you might have to make other sacrifices. But definitely talk to the math department they can usually go to bat for you with the guidance counselor.
Correspondence honors courses

I work in the 5th largest school district and we offer a huge summer school program. However, there are no honors courses during the summer. When students want to take an honors class to either make up a lousy semester or take a whole course to get ahead, I refer them to correspondence schools. I would only recommend this to a high achieving, extremely self motivated student that is obviously very strong in math. This is not for everyone! Many have finished successfully. The ones that don't finish will readily admit it's due to laziness rather than lack of ability and understanding.

My son took Alg I honors in 8th, Geometry honors through Stanford distance ed the summer preceding 9th, Algebra II/Trig honors in 9th, Precalc honors in 10th, and then took Calc. I and II at the community college during his 11th grade year. His senior year he took one semester of Calc III and has nothing right now.

University of Miami Online High School (which has just changed its name to Kaplan College Prep School) offers Alg, Geo, Alg II, Pre Calc, all honors, and Calculus AB and BC if anyone should so desire to get ahead. Stanford also offers honors math classes. BYU Independent Study has more affordable courses, but they're not honors. If you're great at Algebra, you can take Algebra II and move straight to Trig or PreCalc the next year.

If you are interested, check with your school district and see if they will accept these classes. You can PM me and I'll send you the links.

From a parent's perspective, I figured what the hey, they aren't doing anything during the summer anyway. I have twin 9th graders, and one is doing exactly what his older brother did (although he has his eye set on CGA) and the other could care less about pushing himself and wants to get a job and make money this summer. I suggested he do a math class this summer to get ahead and his typical resonse was, "What for?" As I said, it's not for everyone...
I'm going to take the following courses in math for HS:

Geometry (Gifted)-9th
AP Calc AB/BC-11th
AP Calc AB/BC(Harder) or AP Stat-12th

Are these good courses to have taken to be a competitive candidate for west point in the math category at least?
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Hello, 2012Cadet,

Yes, those math courses are right on target. (Notice the pun? :wink:) Just make sure you do well in them - at least C's, preferably A's or B's. Colleges would rather see a C in an honor or AP class than an A in a mainstream (non-honors) class.

Am I understanding that you'll be a freshman in high school in Aug.? I'm a little confused by the name you're using?

Also, don't forget the sciences - highly recommend Chemistry and Physics. At least one year of each, but two years in either/both would be even better.

Good Luck.

Go Army! Beat Navy!
I am just guessing, but I think he means that he/she will be applying in 2012(please correct me if I am wrong). I am a candidate for the class of 2013 and I will be have taken/will take the following math courses:

Math A - Freshman year
Math A/B - Sophomore year
Math B - Junior year
Pre-calculus - summer between Junior and Senior years
AP Calculus AB - Senior year

I have not taken any advanced math courses in the past but I will be taking AP Calc. next year. Will this hurt my chances at all? I hope to get my math SAT score from a 650 to a 700 this June to show strength in math but I am worried that my lack of advanced math courses will hurt my chances. Any input would be much appreciated!!:wink:

* Math A, A/B, and B are NY state math sequences
Sorry if there is confusion about my name. I mean, if everything goes smoothly, i will be in WP class of 2016, or plebe year 2012-2013. i plan on applying spring of my junior year (2011). And, yes i will be in 9th grade this Aug. oh, i have the sciences down:

Biology (Honors)-9th
Chemistry (Honors or Gifted)-10th
Physics (Honors or Gifted)-11th

in my HS, you have a choice of taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics in 12th grade? which would be better to take?
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in my HS, you have a choice of taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics in 12th grade? which would be better to take?

My opinion is take AP Chemistry. I think it may help when taking plebe Chemistry at USMA.
I totally agree with WAMom68. Take the Chemistry. Chemistry seems to be what a lot of cadets have had problems with this year.