Seniors Push Through Senioritis to Get Ready for AP Calc Test
How students are preparing... and procrastinating
March 28, 2017
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An ice sculpture in the form of a sphere melts in such a way that it maintains its spherical shape. The volume of the sphere is decreasing at a constant rate of 2π cubic meters per hour. At what rate, in square meters per hour, is the surface area of the sphere decreasing at the moment when the radius is 5 meters? This related rate problem is just one of many different mathematical problems students must know how to master for the upcoming AP Calculus test in May 9th, 2017.
Preparation for this test begins two years earlier, in the pre-calc class at Monument Mountain. Here, students are taught the basics of calculus and trigonometry. They learn limits, logarithms, natural logs, summation notation, the unit circle, and, of course, all the trig functions (SOHCAHTOA, remember?). But that’s just the beginning. This whole year only serves to build the foundation for next year’s AP calculus class.
The year starts off comfortably. The class is taught by veteran teacher Kristina Farina, who all of the students know, as she also teaches the honors pre-calc class. They first begin by revisiting limits from last year, and then diving into the hefty topic of derivatives, learning the product rule, quotient rule, chain rule, and implicit differentiation. This will be the main focus of the class until about mid-December. Although difficult at first, students quickly get the hang of this, and many claim that it is the easiest part of the year.
After December, they get down to the real stuff: application of derivatives (including related rates), optimization, linearization, and integration. Although the course is not finished yet, the day of the AP test is rapidly approaching and many students have started preparing. Some are only studying with the practice AP questions that Farina gives as quizzes in class. Others, like senior and certified nerd Alec Goffin, are taking a more personalized approach to studying. “I am doing some review on my weakest topics, such as linearization and reviewing topics that I have forgotten, such as concavity…I am also trying to balance studying for this test with the other exams I am taking,” he stated. Another senior, Emma Wilber, stated, “I’m not taking it so bless up 😛 .”
Why, you may ask, would any sane person want to put themselves through this just to pay $96 to take a three hour test at the end of their senior year? Students who do well on the test, scoring a 4 or 5, are typically qualified to receive some sort of college credit for the subject they take the test in. So, this $96 investment could end up saving a few hundred dollars in college.