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Each year students and parents ask questions about math classes, course sequencing, the honors program, and other related topics. Some of the most common questions are listed below. Click on each one or scroll down for more information.

General Questions

Honors Courses

PreCalculus and Calculus

Other Courses

 

  • What can I do for extra help in my math class?

    You have many resources available to you. For a list of suggested study strategies and information about tutoring services, please refer to the Additional Help section of this web site.

  • What math class should I take next year?

    That depends on a variety of factors. In particular what class are you taking now? How are you doing in your math class? Do you like math? Do you plan on studying math, science, or engineering in college? Do you want to take an honors course? Have you taken honors courses in the past? Do you prefer theoretical classes or are you looking for more real world applications? What does your overall class schedule look like for next year?

    You should talk to your current math teacher to see what he or she recommends for you. Your teacher is your best resource. Students should follow the Recommended Pathways when selecting courses. Refer to the Math Course Profiles for advice and information about course sequencing. The profiles also include detailed descriptions of each course we offer.

  • How many years of math do I need to take in high school?

    Three years of math are required for high school graduation. Students must also pass Algebra I and the mathematics section of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in order to graduate.

    The University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) admission requirements include three years of mathematics in high school. They strongly recommend that students take four years of math.

    Most students at Torrey Pines High School take math all four years. For more information, refer to the Graduation Requirements and UC/CSU Requirements outlines in beginning of the Math Course Profiles document.

  • Can I take more than one math class in the same school year?

    Yes. After completing Algebra II, students have a variety of math electives to choose from. Students may take more than one math elective in the same year. For example, some students take Statistics concurrently with Calculus. Students must take Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II in separate school years; elective courses begin after completing Algebra II.

  • Can I get credit for Algebra I in high school if I already took it in middle school?

    Yes. Students who take Algebra I in middle school may take it again in high school. For students who earn a grade of “C” or lower in Algebra I in middle school are strongly encouraged to take Algebra I again in high school to build a better foundation for success in future courses. There is also an Algebra Readiness course offered for high school students who need to improve basic skills before taking Algebra I. Note that all students must pass Algebra I in order to earn a high school diploma. Passing Algebra I in middle school satisfies this graduation requirement. (PreAlgebra or Algebra Readiness alone does not satisfy the graduation requirement.) Students must also pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) to graduate. This exam covers Algebra I and some introductory geometry concepts.

  • Do I have to take Geometry after Algebra I or can I take Algebra II first?

    The course sequence is Algebra I, Geometry, then Algebra II. Algebra I skills are reviewed in Geometry and concepts covered in Geometry are used in Algebra II. This sequence is followed in both the college-preparatory and honors paths.

    Students transferring to Torrey Pines from schools that use integrated programs will be placed in the class we think is the best fit based on the student's mathematical background and proficiency.

  • When should I take the SAT Subject Test in math? Which level do I take?

    According to the College Board web site:
    Mathematics Level 1 is a broad survey test intended for students who have taken three years of college-preparatory mathematics, including two years of algebra and one year of geometry. Mathematics Level 2 is a broad survey test intended for students who have taken college-preparatory mathematics for more than three years, including two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and elementary functions (precalculus) and/or trigonometry” (cited 3/2006).

    Most students take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests near the end of their junior year of high school. If you complete Algebra II as a junior, you would take the Level 1 test. If you complete PreCalculus as a junior, you would take the Level 2 test. Honors students may want to take the Level 2 test after completing Algebra II/Trigonometry Honors.

    For more information, the following links will take you to the College Board web site: SAT Subject Test Math Level 1 and SAT Subject Test Math Level 2.

  • What are the differences between honors and regular classes?

    There are many differences between honors and regular classes. For additional advice and details about particular courses, please refer to the Math Course Profiles. In general, here are a few key guidelines to consider.
     
  • The honors courses progress at a quicker pace than the corresponding college-prep course. More material is covered at a deeper level. Students who enjoy engaging in challenging mathematical thinking can learn a lot and find success in the honors classes.
     
  • Since more content is taught in the honors courses, students are expected to know more when entering the next honors level. This is also important in non-consecutive levels. Also, less time is spent on review (at the beginning of a course and throughout the year) in higher-level courses.
     
  • Students taking honors courses must consider how they will handle the stress of their overall school schedule. Even when students try their best, it is not always possible to earn an “A” in every class. Passionate, engaged students will find success, but success is personal and not only defined by grades.
     
  • Earning an “A” in a college-prep course does not necessarily mean that student belongs in honors the following year. This is especially true if the “A” was earned through continuous, repetitive, good effort rather than a passion for mathematics. In the college-prep courses, students with a solid work ethic and a desire for success will continue to enjoy and learn from a variety of challenging problems and activities.

  • Which class is best for taking math at the honors level for the first time?

    The best place to enter the honors program is at the beginning. Taking Honors PreAlgebra and Honors Algebra I will be the best preparation for future honors math classes. Honors Algebra I is not offered in high school. If students want to try honors math for the first time in high school they should do it when they take Geometry. With the Expanded Access program in the San Dieguito Union High School District students are allowed to take honors classes without having taken the honors level of the previous courses. However, very few students should be making the jump from regular into honors. Keep in mind that each course builds on concepts developed in previous honors courses. This is also important in non-consecutive levels. For example, Algebra II/Trigonometry Honors builds on the Algebra I Honors curriculum which includes many more topics than the standard Algebra I curriculum.

    Note that the “regular” classes at Torrey Pines are college-preparatory courses. Some high schools offer three levels (regular, college-preparatory, and honors). Algebra I and all subsequent courses in the TP Math Department are college-prep.

  • Can I take Honors PreCalculus after regular (college-prep) Algebra II?

    Students who want to take Honors PreCalculus after college-prep Algebra II need to take Math Analysis first. Math Analysis follows Algebra II and includes the trigonometry needed for success in Honors PreCalculus.

  • What is the normal class to take after
    Algebra II/Trigonometry Honors?


    PreCalculus Honors. Students should thoroughly understand the concepts and be able to apply the skills taught in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Trigonometry before entering an AP Calculus course. PreCalculus Honors gives students a strong foundation for Calculus by developing topics with more depth than Algebra II and introducing ideas that will prepare them for success in an Advanced Placement (AP) course the following year.

    In the prerequisites for AP Calculus AB the College Board states, “Before studying calculus, all students should complete four years of secondary mathematics designed for college-bound students: courses in which they study algebra, geometry, trigonometry, analytic geometry, and elementary functions.”

  • What is Math Analysis?

    Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, "Math Analysis with Trigonometry" replaces college-prep PreCalculus. Math Analysis is a course that further develops advanced algebra skills and covers the fundamentals of trigonometry. Students who plan on taking Honors PreCalculus need to complete Algebra II/Trigonometry Honors or both Algebra II and Math Analysis.

  • Do I have to take Calculus after taking PreCalculus or Math Analysis?

    No. Statistics and Discrete Math are very good options. Both are college-preparatory courses recognized by the UC and CSU systems as advanced mathematics. See the Math Course Profiles for details about each course.

    The “Mathematics Requirements” published by the University of California states, “Although only three years are required, four years are strongly recommended. Among regularly admitted freshmen, most complete a mathematics course in each grade from 9th through 12th. . . Traditionally, most entering college freshmen have taken pre-calculus and often calculus; however, other advanced courses such as statistics and discrete mathematics
    can also deepen students’ understanding of mathematics.”

  • What is the difference between Calculus AB and Calculus BC and Calculus CD?

    The traditional Calculus course sequence in college is broken into three semesters: Calculus I (limits, derivatives, beginning integration), Calculus II (advanced integration, infinite series, introductory differential equations, parametric equations), and Calculus III (multivariable functions and vector calculus).

    AP* Calculus AB is the equivalent of Calculus I (one semester of college calculus taught over one year** of high school.) AP Calculus BC is equivalent to Calculus I and Calculus II (two semesters of college calculus taught over one year** of high school). Calculus C is Calculus II and is taught in the fall semester. Calculus D is Calculus III and is offered during the fall semester and again in the spring semester. Calculus C in the fall is paired with Calculus D in the spring to make a year-long course. Calculus D in the fall is paired with Linear Algebra in the spring to make a year-long course***.

    *AP is Advanced Placement. Students may earn college credits by passing the corresponding AP Exam in May.

    **When considering the pace of AP courses in high school, please note that the material is usually covered in only about three quarters of the year to allow time for review and the exam offered in early May.

    ***Note that Calculus C, Calculus D, and Linear Algebra are not AP courses. These classes are taught at Torrey Pines High School through a special program in collaboration with San Diego State University. Click here for more information about the SDSU courses.

  • Do I need to take PreCalculus or Calculus if I learn some Calculus in Physics?

    Yes. All of the science classes apply the skills learned in your math classes. The science teachers review some material and may give you some tips or tricks for completing certain types of problems, but the underlying theory and mathematical connections are developed in your math courses. To more fully understand and appreciate the work you do in your science classes, be sure to take the math classes that complement your science studies.

  • What is Business Math?

    Business Math is a course offered through the Business Department. This course is appropriate for students wishing to acquire practical entry-level business mathematics skills. The course includes information on investments, financial planning, insurance, loans, payroll, banking and taxes. Math applications for personal and corporate finance are emphasized.

    Students who have completed Algebra I may take Business Math to fulfill one of the three years of math required to graduate high school. This course does not fulfill the UC/CSU requirements for mathematics.

  • What is the CAHSEE Math Support class?

    It is strongly recommended that seniors and juniors who have not yet passed the Mathematics section of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) enroll in the CAHSEE Math Support class. Students in the class will review basic math skills and topics from Algebra and Geometry that are tested on the CAHSEE. Also, students will learn test-taking skills that will help them on a variety of standardized tests. The work in the CAHSEE course will support students taking other math and science classes by better developing their mathematical background.

    Students must pass the CAHSEE in order to receive a high school diploma in California. The test is administered a few times each year and students take it for the first time in the second semester of their sophomore year. This course does not fulfill the UC/CSU requirements for mathematics.

  • What is Discrete Math? How does it fit into the math sequence?

    Discrete Math is a relatively new math class at Torrey Pines. It is a college-prep course that students can take after successfully completing Algebra II. Discrete Math includes a variety of topics not typically taught in the traditional mathematics sequence designed for preparing students for Calculus. The units taught in Discrete Math include logic, probability, social theories, inductive/deductive reasoning, linear algebra applications in business, finance models, coding theory, and history of math. Discrete Math focuses on mathematical reasoning and real world applications. For more information, read the Discrete Math Course Profile.

  • What are the Advanced Topics in Math I and II courses?

    Advanced Topics in Mathematics I is the course that students enroll in to work as tutors in the Math Tutoring Center. Students also complete a variety of projects covering topics from Algebra II through the beginning of Calculus. Students who complete Algebra II with a grade of B or better are qualified for this class, however this course is not offered every year. This course is not scheduled for the 2006-07 school year.

    Advanced Topics in Mathematics II is a new math class in 2006-07. It is a projects-based class for students currently taking or who have finished Calculus. Students will complete projects in four categories: advanced math topics, interdisciplinary, community service, and reading and research. Most of the work in this class will be done on computers. For more information, read the course profile for Advanced Topics in Mathematics II. Note that students do not need to complete Adv. Topics I before taking level II.

  • Where can I get more information?

    Talk to your current math teacher.
    Read the Math Course Profiles.
    Talk to your counselor.

Updated: 02/21/2008