Precalculus Classes switch to AP curriculum

AB and BC Pre-Calculus to be offered as default courses beginning the 2023-24 school year


Elise Walker

Sophomore Precalculus with Trigonometry student Soyam Ammanuel studies for her math final. Ammanuel took the Honors version of the course during the 2022-23 school year.

McLean High School is making a bold move to further enhance the mathematics curriculum along with the Fairfax County Public School system as a new course was introduced by the College Board. Starting next school year, every student enrolled in Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry will be required to take the Advanced Placement (AP) version of the course. This decision has sparked both excitement and debate among students, parents, and teachers within the McLean community.

“There are a lot of new courses coming to McLean next year,” sophomore Will Lewey said. “I think it will be interesting to see what course path a lot of the students take.”

 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is committed to providing students with a rigorous education and has made the course the standard for students upon completion of Algebra 2. The College Board aims to challenge and prepare students for the increasing demands of college-level mathematics, so FCPS has offered the AP version of the course in addition to the DE version.

“I’m not sure what to expect with the new course going into next year,” sophomore Maddie Staats said. “Even though it is new, I am excited to take a more challenging course to get ready for college.’

FCPS believes that the AP curriculum will equip students with a more thorough understanding of mathematical concepts as well as introduce critical thinking and reasoning. By engaging students in a more advanced curriculum, the county hopes to better prepare them for success in college and beyond.

While the announcement has been met with enthusiasm by some students who embrace the challenge, others have expressed concerns about the increased workload and potential stress associated with an AP course. Some worry that students who may not have initially chosen the AP route might struggle to keep up with the rigorous pace of the course, leading to academic pressure and potential burnout.

“I’m a little nervous for this course because it is at a college level and I’m only in high school,” Staats said. “With a busy junior year this fall, I will have to manage my time well with AP Precalculus on top of my other courses.”

In addition, there are students who already took the course in the past but did not receive AP college credit or the grade boost that comes with an AP class. As the course was only introduced this year, there is controversy over how the new class will affect GPAs, even within a graduating class. 

“All of the students who take the course this year likely won’t have to take it in college,” sophomore Calypso Rolly said. “I took the course this year, so I will have to take it again in college, and I did not receive an AP boost for my high school GPA.” 

The two Pre-Calc with Trigonometry options are AP AB Precalculus and AP BC Precalculus, with the BC course moving at a slightly faster pace than the AB course. Students are given the choice between the two, and the AP exams will be separate. As students approve their courses for next school year, they will keep their options within the mathematics department in mind. 

“I think it will be interesting what this new Pre-calc with Trigonometry course brings to McLean,” Lewey said. “This new addition to the math department will open more options for ambitious students.”