West Adds AP Pre-Calculus To Course List
May 18, 2023
Choosing classes for the upcoming school year can be one of the most methodical decisions of second semester. The catalog of questions are as endless as the counselor appointment waiting list — which elective is right for me? Is it worth taking a class over the summer? Can I keep up with the pace?
For some, another question enters the ring: Should I take an AP or regular class. In particular, upcoming juniors, seniors, and sophomores alike have taken note of Pre-Calculus, which, for the first time, is being offered as both an AP course and a regular class.
Pre-Calculus was previously offered as both a regular and honors course. However, the Torrance Unified School District board decided to scrap the honors option entirely and instead replace it with its new AP counterpart. Though honors and AP classes both hold students to a higher standard and an accelerated learning pace, many may assume that the AP class would possess a heavier workload.
In spite of these expectations, current Precalculus Honors teacher Mrs. Hettinger encouraged students to not let the class’s AP label deter them from challenging themselves. The class could be especially helpful to prepare those who decide to take an AP Calculus course and exam in the future. Mrs. Hettinger explained that the math department at West High historically prepares their students very well for the exam regardless of which Precalculus course they take. “We have a very high pass rate on the AP calculus exam. Here at West, it’s in the 90% range,” Mrs. Hettinger explained.
On the other hand, the nationwide rate of success didn’t yield such heartening results — according to the College Board website, a study found that an average score of one or two was scored on the AP Calculus test in 2022. In order to remedy such scores, the College Board created AP Pre-Calculus with the hope to prepare students for their calculus class. However, Mrs. Hettinger expressed that the rigorous curriculum at West High has already achieved that: “As a matter of fact, some would say that the content of the AP class is actually less than what we already teach in Precalculus Honors here. So, our thinking on the whole thing is simply that we’ll probably continue to teach what we’ve always taught.” Therefore, AP Pre-Calculus could offer just as much help for future math classes as Pre-Calculus Honors.
Although Mrs. Hettinger suggested the AP course will be similar to Precalculus Honors, it doesn’t take away the added dedication and work students will have to put in. “It’s a lot more personal responsibility than it is at the lower levels, and if you’re not willing to take that responsibility, then maybe the AP classes aren’t for you,” she advised.
Though the course may require students to be proactive, the struggle is not one to be faced alone. As Mrs. Hettinger noted, teachers are there to supports students, not intimidate them: “Being willing to seek outside help, through coming to the teacher or during workshop, is important.”
Prospective AP Precalculus taker Benjamin Wong (9) affirmed how crucial asking for help when necessary was: “If you have questions, it’s really important to ask the teacher because you don’t want to just do something and not be not sure about it.”