Did you take/are you going to take calculus?

  • Yes

    Votes: 45 77.6%
  • No

    Votes: 13 22.4%

  • Total voters
    58

On_The_Way_Up

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Hello all. I assumed that calculus was required to apply to medical school. But a couple of pre med advisors told me you don't need it. And one of them even flat out said don't take it. And after talking to some of my pre med friends most of them aren't going to take calculus and thought I was crazy for planning to. So after doing some research most medical schools do not require calculus. But many do recommend taking the class. I got A's in stats, pre-calc, and trig. So its not that I don't like math but it would save me time not taking calculus. I would probably graduate a semester earlier. I've been going back and forth on this. So did you take or plan on taking calculus? What are your reasons for taking or not taking calculus?

Thanks.
 

artist27

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I took it, I didn't think it was too bad, but from my experience your grades in stats, precalc, and trig will not be that accurate in how you do in calc. If you wanna do it go ahead but not if you're not gonna get an A. A high gpa is more important than an upper level math class that you don't even need, tbh.
 

eteshoe

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Since I was an engineering major it was required (plus other advanced math topics for my major+minor). Check out "Paul Dawkin's Math Notes" if you choose to take calc or DE.
 

walloobi

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Hello all. I assumed that calculus was required to apply to medical school. But a couple of pre med advisors told me you don't need it. And one of them even flat out said don't take it. And after talking to some of my pre med friends most of them aren't going to take calculus and thought I was crazy for planning to. So after doing some research most medical schools do not require calculus. But many do recommend taking the class. I got A's in stats, pre-calc, and trig. So its not that I don't like math but it would save me time not taking calculus. I would probably graduate a semester earlier. I've been going back and forth on this. So did you take or plan on taking calculus? What are your reasons for taking or not taking calculus?

Thanks.
Go on MSAR Online, and check if schools that you might potentially apply to require calc. Quite a few I'm applying to require it.
 

Dream_big

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Some schools do like to see that you did take an upper level math class, but stats (especially a class like biostatistics) is OK, if not preferred. I enjoyed the class. If you think you can do it, take it. It is a great course, and you will be able to make a few connections you learn in Calc with your other pre-reqs :rolleyes: it's neat stuff
 
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On_The_Way_Up

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Go on MSAR Online, and check if schools that you might potentially apply to require calc. Quite a few I'm applying to require it.
I checked as stated in my original post and none require it. But most do recommend it. I checked about 10 schools. Which schools that you're applying to require it? If you don't mind sharing.
 
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Yeah, calculus has come up on some of my supplementals, if I'm remembering correctly. I took the full calc sequence and enjoyed it but to be fair I had a really charismatic professor who made the material fun... even infinite sequences and series, which I couldn't stand back in high school.
 
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On_The_Way_Up

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UCLA and Harvard are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head, but I know there are quite a few more.
Yes I know Harvard does. And I do know schools out in California do. Although I'm not in the California area.
 

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Calc I is not bad at all. I would definitely take it. It's kind of the go to college math class. It will also help you in physics.


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^this

It's sad that so many premeds have to sacrifice intellectual growth for wanting straight As...CalcI should be easy enough to get an A in. I honestly thought it was easier than trig.
 

walloobi

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^this

It's sad that so many premeds have to sacrifice intellectual growth for wanting straight As...CalcI should be easy enough to get an A in. I honestly thought it was easier than trig.
Eh, I don't think there's really anything wrong with sacrificing a tiny bit of mostly irrelevant math knowledge to put yourself in a position to successfully pursue a career that will provide an incredible amount of relevant and useful intellectual growth. Definitely worth it.
 
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Pagan FutureDoc

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I was a physics and Chem dual major so I had to take calc (along with Diffrential Equations and Linear Algebra). I love it and personally I have a hard time seeing why anyone wouldn't want to at least take up through multivariable calc.
But strictly speaking it's not required for med school (few schools require it these days and they seem to get fewer every year) if you aren't strong in math and don't find it fascinating take lesser math courses or statistics
 

medbunny56

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i loved calc!! take it if you're up for it but not with other hard sciences the same time
 

NotYou20

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Unless your class load to graduate early would already be really heavy, it shouldn't prevent that. Given your math record calc 1 probably won't be difficult either. It's a pretty easy class. Without an mcat it's hard to make a school list so I'd take it for the flexibility.
 

Hopeful_vet

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Eh, I don't think there's really anything wrong with sacrificing a tiny bit of mostly irrelevant math knowledge to put yourself in a position to successfully pursue a career that will provide an incredible amount of relevant and useful intellectual growth. Definitely worth it.
If you can't do well in calc, you won't have a successful medical career. Calc is not at all difficult. Far easier than O-chem or Biochem. It's also incredibly useful.

If for some reason you are just terrible at math, then sure, skip it. Otherwise I would definitely take it.


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Eleithyia

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Engineering and most chemistry majors require a few calc classes, and at my school even bio majors have to take calc I, so there may be a lot of pre-med people who had to take it anyway.

I have a liberal arts major and when I was first planning my pre-reqs with my pre-med advisor, she also told me it's not required for most schools and that I should only take it if I thought I could do well in it, since I didn't need it to fulfill any degree requirements. However, the med school associated with my university requires calc, and it seemed like a dumb idea to eliminate an in-state school where I volunteer in their free clinic because I didn't want to bother with calc.

I took calc in high school 5 years ago (my school didn't offer AP), and I was surprised how much I remembered when I took calc I. As a math-hater, it seriously wasn't that bad :)
 

thatwouldbeanarchy

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I was about to take Calc (not enthusiastically) but my school told me they'd prefer Biostats. Calc wasn't too difficult for me in HS but personally, I think Biostats will be way more useful.
 
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I think it would be a waste of time. I took it, but only because my major required it. If I could have avoided taking calculus I would.
 

ChrisMack390

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I took it because it was required for my major. If not required for your major, I probably wouldn't take it. A good biostatistics course will be much more helpful for MCAT, understanding literature, and conducting research.
 

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reports of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated
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Stats is def more useful if you're not an engineering major. Both are important to most sciences and I would reccomend both if you can do it!
 

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reports of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated
2+ Year Member
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Probably still at work
Eh, I don't think there's really anything wrong with sacrificing a tiny bit of mostly irrelevant math knowledge to put yourself in a position to successfully pursue a career that will provide an incredible amount of relevant and useful intellectual growth. Definitely worth it.
The biophysicist in me just died a bit.

Also don't go into anesthesiology!! ;)
 
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FutureOncologist

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Had to take Calc I/II for my major. It wasn't TOO BAD, but I definitely struggled. But it did help a lot with physics and upper level chemistries. Also, I think WUSTL requires up to Calc IV. I may be wrong about that.
 

walloobi

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If you can't do well in calc, you won't have a successful medical career. Calc is not at all difficult. Far easier than O-chem or Biochem. It's also incredibly useful.

If for some reason you are just terrible at math, then sure, skip it. Otherwise I would definitely take it.
With all due respect, this is the dumbest post I've read in a very long time.
 

Hopeful_vet

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With all due respect, this is the dumbest post I've read in a very long time.
What makes you say that? You think that someone who is incapable of doing well in calculus I, a class taken by 18 year old freshmen, can handle upper level courses and med school?


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With all due respect, this is the dumbest post I've read in a very long time.
Not necessarily that dumb. A lot of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics have their math roots in calculus. I do agree that the medical career thing isn't true at all, you can still do well but the rest of Hopeful_vet's reply is true. Calculus should be an easier series of courses especially the first two sequences (I + II).

OP: A lot of schools say that about a bunch of classes but it's smart to take some level of mathematics in college. Most of the physical sciences have their backgrounds rooted in mathematics (especially algebra, calculus and statistics). Plus I'm sure most pre meds take calc in college so you're app will lack in at least one set of classes. Just take it even if you're bad at math, there's a massive support system for Calc and you can get help almost anywhere for it.
 

Pagan FutureDoc

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The notion of a class being easy or hard has a lot more to do with the aptitude of the student and less to do with the content of the course.
 
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Hopeful_vet

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Not necessarily that dumb. A lot of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics have their math roots in calculus. I do agree that the medical career thing isn't true at all, you can still do well but the rest of Hopeful_vet's reply is true. Calculus should be an easier series of courses especially the first two sequences (I + II).

OP: A lot of schools say that about a bunch of classes but it's smart to take some level of mathematics in college. Most of the physical sciences have their backgrounds rooted in mathematics (especially algebra, calculus and statistics). Plus I'm sure most pre meds take calc in college so you're app will lack in at least one set of classes. Just take it even if you're bad at math, there's a massive support system for Calc and you can get help almost anywhere for it.
I probably could have worded that better. What I meant was that if you're unable to do well in calc, you (likely) won't be able to do well in other upper level courses and therefore won't make it in to medical school. Key word here is "unable." I wasn't trying to imply that you're going to use calculus in your medical career.


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eteshoe

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The notion of a class being easy or hard has a lot more to do with the aptitude of the student and less to do with the content of the course.
Though quantum mechanics was no walk in the park
 

leonardoson

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Take Calc. It is beautiful to look at a more accurate application of math to the changing nature of the world around us. Algebra only goes so far is describing the world. There's a reason physics exploded after newton and leibniz.
 
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leonardoson

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Eh, I don't think there's really anything wrong with sacrificing a tiny bit of mostly irrelevant math knowledge to put yourself in a position to successfully pursue a career that will provide an incredible amount of relevant and useful intellectual growth. Definitely worth it.
Irrelevant? Please tell me again how derivatives and integrals are "irrelevant".
 
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Cyal

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Eh, I don't think there's really anything wrong with sacrificing a tiny bit of mostly irrelevant math knowledge to put yourself in a position to successfully pursue a career that will provide an incredible amount of relevant and useful intellectual growth. Definitely worth it.
It might be "mostly irrelevant" to you if your goals are private practice and general medicine, but calculus and mathematics permeate a lot of science, engineering and medicine. As a bio major, I took all the math classes required for engineers, and while I may not remember the nitty-gritty details of a Jacobian or matrix transformation, I have a general/rough idea of some of these mathematical terms when they are used in a research paper or technical piece. That said, there is nothing wrong is attempting to protect your GPA. Good luck.
 

walloobi

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Irrelevant? Please tell me again how derivatives and integrals are "irrelevant".
I said mostly irrelevant. Do you seriously think you'll be calculating derivatives and integrals regularly (or ever) in medicine? You don't need calc for the vast majority of med schools' prerequisites. You don't need calc for the physics classes that med schools require. You don't need calc for most upper div science courses. You don't need calc for the MCAT. You only need non-calc physics for some med school material like a few circulatory and respiratory topics (or so I've been told by med students). Only a few specific specialties require application of calc (gas, critical care, maybe rad onc, I don't really know, but med students and attendings have told me that barely any require it in any way). And given tech advancements, even less specialties will require humans to make any sort of those calculations. Not to mention, by the time it could potentially become relevant for any pre-med, like 6 years down the road, there's no way they'll remember the material they learned in undergrad anyways.

Now tell me why you think calc is relevant.
 

walloobi

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If you can't do well in calc, you won't have a successful medical career. Calc is not at all difficult. Far easier than O-chem or Biochem. It's also incredibly useful.

If for some reason you are just terrible at math, then sure, skip it. Otherwise I would definitely take it.
Alright, now that I have a bit more time, I'll explain why I think this is such a ridiculous post.

1) The first sentence is a gross overstatement and an absurd generalization. Some people suck at math. Doesn't mean they can't excel in other academic areas that don't heavily rely on that type of math. An enormous number of people have received C's, D's, and F's in calc and have gone on to become great docs. This will continue to happen indefinitely.

2) Saying that calc is not difficult at all is ignorant of differences in difficulties between different schools. Take any given student, put them in the easiest calc class in the country, and they'll get a good grade. Put that same student in the hardest calc class in the country, and they'll struggle immensely.

3) My calc classes were much much more challenging than my o-chem and biochem classes. Not even close. And my o-chem and biochem classes have reputations of being very challenging.

4) Calc is not incredibly useful. According to a bunch of med students and attendings I've talked to, only a select few specialties use calc in any way, and even then, they aren't really calculating derivatives and integrals themselves. If you have examples of how the direct use/calculation of calc by docs is truly relevant in medicine, I'm all ears.

5) If you think that someone who can't handle calc can't handle becoming a doctor, why in the world would you suggest skipping calc if you're terrible at math? Wouldn't that just be setting yourself up for failure later down the road?
 

walloobi

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It might be "mostly irrelevant" to you if your goals are private practice and general medicine, but calculus and mathematics permeate a lot of science, engineering and medicine. As a bio major, I took all the math classes required for engineers, and while I may not remember the nitty-gritty details of a Jacobian or matrix transformation, I have a general/rough idea of some of these mathematical terms when they are used in a research paper or technical piece. That said, there is nothing wrong is attempting to protect your GPA. Good luck.
There are plenty of fields other than private practice and general medicine that don't use calc at all. Not to mention that private practice includes every specialty and subspecialty. Which specialties do you think require docs to actually know how to calculate calc on a regular basis?
 

TheBiologist

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Calculus I is not bad at all; you will likely do well in it if you are not mathematically inept. Stats/trig are if fact different beasts than clac, but still.

My understanding is that it's a "recommended' course; very very few schools I've looked at seem like they would throw you out of the application pool for just not having calculus, but because a lot of applicants do have it, it may make you more competative (sort of like how honors/AP classes aren't required to get into an Ivy Ugrad, buuuut).

I took trig, three semesters of Calc, and Biostats and got A's, except a B in calc II (although that whole semester was a bad semester for me, calc II is generally considered the "hump". The subject of series can be difficult, especially if you have a bad professor). None except Biostats were explicitly required for my major

Overall you could take it over the summer and probably not be harmed at all, as long as you do well.
 

Hopeful_vet

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Alright, now that I have a bit more time, I'll explain why I think this is such a ridiculous post.

1) The first sentence is a gross overstatement and an absurd generalization. Some people suck at math. Doesn't mean they can't excel in other academic areas that don't heavily rely on that type of math. An enormous number of people have received C's, D's, and F's in calc and have gone on to become great docs. This will continue to happen indefinitely.

2) Saying that calc is not difficult at all is ignorant of differences in difficulties between different schools. Take any given student, put them in the easiest calc class in the country, and they'll get a good grade. Put that same student in the hardest calc class in the country, and they'll struggle immensely.

3) My calc classes were much much more challenging than my o-chem and biochem classes. Not even close. And my o-chem and biochem classes have reputations of being very challenging.

4) Calc is not incredibly useful. According to a bunch of med students and attendings I've talked to, only a select few specialties use calc in any way, and even then, they aren't really calculating derivatives and integrals themselves. If you have examples of how the direct use/calculation of calc by docs is truly relevant in medicine, I'm all ears.

5) If you think that someone who can't handle calc can't handle becoming a doctor, why in the world would you suggest skipping calc if you're terrible at math? Wouldn't that just be setting yourself up for failure later down the road?
Those are all fair points. See my post about having worded it poorly.


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Mar 25, 2016
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I said mostly irrelevant. Do you seriously think you'll be calculating derivatives and integrals regularly (or ever) in medicine? You don't need calc for the vast majority of med schools' prerequisites. You don't need calc for the physics classes that med schools require. You don't need calc for most upper div science courses. You don't need calc for the MCAT. You only need non-calc physics for some med school material like a few circulatory and respiratory topics (or so I've been told by med students). Only a few specific specialties require application of calc (gas, critical care, maybe rad onc, I don't really know, but med students and attendings have told me that barely any require it in any way). And given tech advancements, even less specialties will require humans to make any sort of those calculations. Not to mention, by the time it could potentially become relevant for any pre-med, like 6 years down the road, there's no way they'll remember the material they learned in undergrad anyways.

Now tell me why you think calc is relevant.
Calculus builds up one's problem solving ability, which is important for not only math but is also important for all facets of life including medicine.
 
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I said mostly irrelevant. Do you seriously think you'll be calculating derivatives and integrals regularly (or ever) in medicine? You don't need calc for the vast majority of med schools' prerequisites. You don't need calc for the physics classes that med schools require. You don't need calc for most upper div science courses. You don't need calc for the MCAT. You only need non-calc physics for some med school material like a few circulatory and respiratory topics (or so I've been told by med students). Only a few specific specialties require application of calc (gas, critical care, maybe rad onc, I don't really know, but med students and attendings have told me that barely any require it in any way). And given tech advancements, even less specialties will require humans to make any sort of those calculations. Not to mention, by the time it could potentially become relevant for any pre-med, like 6 years down the road, there's no way they'll remember the material they learned in undergrad anyways.

Now tell me why you think calc is relevant.
There is a reason why math majors statistically do the best on the MCAT.
 

prettylittlebird

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As a current medical student who did not take Calculus I can tell you from experience that you will not need it. Anyone who is trying to convince you that you won't be successful if you don't take a specific math class is way off base. Success in medical school and beyond is about your work ethic and ability to learn, it has nothing to do with math. I also find it rather amusing that the posters trying to argue this point are all pre-meds who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about even though they act like they're experts on what is necessary to make it in med school/as a physician. Please ignore them. Having taken Stats you will be more than prepared for the material comes up in classes (and, in fact, will be more prepared than some). Just make sure none of the schools you're applying to require Calc specifically and you'll be fine. No one has asked me about Calculus - not while I was interviewing, not after I got accepted, and not after a year of school and while there were certainly classes I wished I had taken (genetics, microbio), Calc was never one of them.
 
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walloobi

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As a current medical student who did not take Calculus I can tell you from experience that you will not need it. Anyone who is trying to convince you that you won't be successful if you don't take a specific math class is way off base. Success in medical school and beyond is about your work ethic and ability to learn, it has nothing to do with math. I also find it rather amusing that the posters trying to argue this point are all pre-meds who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about even though they act like they're experts on what is necessary to make it in med school/as a physician. Please ignore them. Having taken Stats you will be more than prepared for the material comes up in classes (and, in fact, will be more prepared than some). Just make sure none of the schools you're applying to require Calc specifically and you'll be fine. No one has asked me about Calculus - not while I was interviewing, not after I got accepted, and not after a year of school and while there were certainly classes I wished I had taken (genetics, microbio), Calc was never one of them.
/thread
 
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On_The_Way_Up

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Thank you everyone who participated in the thread and poll. Looks like a majority of people here took calculus. It is worth noting some just took it because their major required it. Seeing as how many took calculus and the top 3 schools in my state recommend calculus with 2 of them STRONGLY recommending calculus I think I'm going to take it. Need every competitive edge you can get. Especially with the more competitive schools.
 
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freak7

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You're right, and that reason is a self-selection bias. It tends to be smart people who choose to major in math.
I don't know man... You should've seen some of the dumbos I majored with.