Honors Track

In Honors Track, fiction in the new Atlantic, ambitious students form a cheating ring.

WE WERE SEDULOUS. We were driven. Our vocabularies were formidable and constantly expanding. We knew the chemical elements by number and properties, the names and dates of battles in the world’s greatest wars.

We arrived at school early and put in twelve-hour days. Exhaustion was routine. Most of us repelled it with Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Others took a more holistic approach. Neil Casey did a series of deep-breathing exercises; May Wang sipped from a thermos of ginseng tea. Dale Gilman, the vice principal’s son, whom none of the rest of us could stand, rolled his ankles and wrists around while he sat through each class. “It really gets the blood flowing,” he said in his high-pitched voice, even though we never asked him to explain.

. . .  The pamphlets we took home from the Guidance Office showed photographs of trees in a perpetual state of October, and students’ faces laughing under jaunty knit caps.

I liked the story — but it made no sense to have the top students taking “honors calculus” in their junior year.  They’d take AP Calculus as seniors.

About Joanne


  1. You’re right that Honors Calculus makes no sense–and is gone from most curriculums, anyway.

    Juniors would take AP Calc AB, which is quite common these days.

  2. Seniors could take Calc BC.

  3. Actually – a lot of students do both. There are a lot of students coming into college who have taken calc 1 twice! I’m going to the AP grading this summer (I fly out Saturday) and I’m sure the statistical information we get at the opening meeting will contain some of this information.

  4. Peace Corps says:

    momof4 says:
    June 4, 2012 at 10:58 am
    “How common is it for high schools to offer both? My older kids’ schools, and similar schools nearby, offered only BC. My youngest’s school, and the others in the small city, offered only AB. Are those situations unusual?”

    I teach AP Calculus AB at a very small school. Currently we don’t have any students situated to take BC, but if we did, I am sure that we would offer it.

    A larger school in this region has about 30 students in AB and 1 in BC.

    Since you can get an AB score from the BC test, some schools may be moving to only BC. I don’t see that happening at my school any time soon.

  5. Peace Corps says:

    Mark Roulo says:
    June 4, 2012 at 11:30 am
    “My local public high school offers both AB and BC.

    The high school I attended 20+ years ago also offered both AB and BC.

    Broadly speaking, AB seems to be differential calculus and BC seems to be differential *and* integral calculus.

    The three quarter calculus sequence at the college I attended also included a quarter of infinite series. I can’t tell if BC does that also.”

    Here is the AP Calculus course descriptions for both AB & BC: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/ap-calculus-course-description.pdf

    AB includes Limits, Derivatives, & Integrals

    BC is all AB plus Series and AB topics with parametric, polar, and vector functions and some more difficult integrals.