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.
PreCalculus and Calculus
- 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
when selecting courses. Refer to the
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
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
- 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
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
- Do I have to take Geometry after
Algebra I or can I take Algebra II
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
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
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
- 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.
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
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.
What is the normal class to take
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
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
What is Math
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
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
*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
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 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
What is the CAHSEE Math Support
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
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
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
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.