AP Pre-Calculus: Making AP Courses More Accessible

The accessibility of college-level courses in high schools is a hot topic in the United States and worldwide. However, for students to have the opportunity to take AP Calculus, students would need to start taking advanced courses in 9th grade—and many students are not ready to plan that far ahead when they are just starting high school. As a result, students not at the advanced level have difficulty covering enough material to build a strong enough foundation to warrant them taking AP Calculus. 

Without significant outside work, students find themselves in the College Prep track and unable to earn AP credit. Some schools offer summer classes to fill in the gaps at the end of 11th grade, so students can enter 12th grade taking an AP math class, but this is not a sustainable solution. A considerable time (and financial) commitment is associated with programs like this, thus increasing the gap between those with access to AP courses and those without. At Zinkerz, our growing number of AP courses is due to many schools offering an inconsistent selection of AP classes, or students being too busy during the school day to fit them into their schedules. This is why Zinkerz provides a flexible schedule around AP courses.

COVID-19 Didn’t Help

Unsurprisingly, the forced closure of schools and the reduced online education options has left students with more gaps in their knowledge than before. A recent blog about the Nation’s Report Card highlighted the areas where student scores have decreased. With these gaps comes an even larger hurdle for students to jump over to prepare themselves for rigorous AP courses…leading many students to opt out of AP classes for fear of failure. Schools are not pushing students to take these AP courses because they know they do not have the necessary skills. And with the spotlight on mental health amid the end of the pandemic, no schools want to add pressure on students when they have already experienced such a unique and challenging situation.

Why Are AP Courses So Important?

To be a competitive college admission applicant, you must have taken standardized tests. Schools all grade differently…even teachers grade differently within a school. Consequently, admissions officers admit it is hard to base their decision only on a student’s GPA. How do the admissions officers know what goes into each grade? The short answer is: They don’t. Therefore, having AP courses on your transcript shows you can measure up against other students under a standard grading system.

In addition to creating a common baseline for a grade, taking AP courses shows colleges you are interested and capable in topics outside the standard curriculum. If you are an international student, taking the correct combination of AP courses leads you to an International AP Diploma, making you even more competitive according to colleges.

Enter a New AP: Pre-Calculus

Due to the increased concerns about access to and equitable representation in AP curriculums and the growing number of colleges that do not require Calculus as a core course, a new AP is being offered for 2023-2024…AP Pre-Calculus.

How was the course developed?

This course is more rigorous than your typical Honors Pre-Calculus course. Research on university standards for base math classes has been utilized to develop a framework that is acceptable at as many colleges as possible. The curriculum covers more than just the basics; it provides an in-depth analysis of the topics to give students even more insight into the world of math than a typical honors course. Zinkerz staff are staying ahead of the curve and ensuring our educators are ready to offer this course.

What does this mean?

For students whose learning path does not include Calculus, now there is a chance to earn AP credit for Pre-Calculus. This offers them the opportunity to earn university credits. However, even without the university credits, the course would prepare students to take the math requirements in college, so they will not have to waste time on a remedial math class that does not count towards their credits.

For students who were already planning to take AP Calculus as seniors, this is an outstanding opportunity to take an AP course earlier than planned and understand the rigor and expectations involved in taking an AP course. This will also create a solid foundation for the students in math, allowing them a better chance of success when they reach Calculus.

What’s next?

Many schools will not offer this new course in the first year because of many unknowns. However, Zinkerz believes in being a leader in education and will offer this course if there is a demand for it. If you’re interested in taking AP Pre-Calculus this upcoming school year, reach out to us at zinkerz.com/consultation for more information.



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