The fight between AP math classes ends here

Tyra Christopherson, Opinion Editor

Once students reach the upper tiers of Liberty’s math classes, they are faced with a choice between AP Statistics and AP Calculus. Certain teachers may prioritize one over the other, but students are left questioning which one is better?
The answer is actually quite simple. One isn’t better than the other; they cover completely different topics within the realm of mathematics.
AP Calculus builds more linearly upon previous years’ math classes than does AP Statistics, and it is more important for students considering engineering and applied mathematics careers. Some concepts overlap with physics, so taking AP Calculus will help with physics and vice versa. The lessons in class usually consist of guided note-taking, which certainly isn’t Silverwood-level fun, but it keeps students engaged, and every once in a while a more exciting activity day will be thrown in.
AP Statistics, on the other hand, is more useful for students interested in careers such as business or marketing. After taking Precalculus, students can enroll in AP Statistics, but it doesn’t build on previous years’ concepts as much as AP Calculus does, as its concepts branch off in a different direction than calculus. Again, there is some overlap with science classes, with AP Statistics concepts such as chi-squared tests conducted in AP Biology and best fit lines implemented in physics.
Lessons in AP Statistics, however, can sometimes be difficult to get through. Most of the time, the class takes notes from PowerPoint presentations (appropriately titled “power through the PowerPoint”), which tend to be lengthy and lackluster, although I might be biased because my early morning brain and statistics don’t get along well.
On the other hand, AP Statistics has engaging activities on days without lessons where students apply their statistical knowledge to catch (or try to catch) a chocolate thief, conduct experiments and surveys on the Liberty student body, and more.
Personally, I lean more towards AP Calculus than AP Statistics. But that’s just me because I’m interested in a scientific field. I’ve still had plenty of interesting, enlightening moments in AP Stats and been uninterested in AP Calc.
Because they are so dramatically different, I would encourage students to enroll in both AP Statistics and AP Calculus during their years of high school rather than choosing between the classes. Yet some students will choose one over the other, and as long as they’ve considered what that may mean for their post-high school plan, it’s perfectly acceptable. Instead of creating conflict by debating which math class is best, we should recognize the strengths of each and allow the two classes to peacefully coexist.