New AP Precalculus Course Will Expand Access to STEM Majors and Careers

Launching in fall 2023, a new AP course will prepare a more diverse set of students to succeed in college-level math and reach college graduation

New York The Advanced Placement® Program announced today the launch of AP® Precalculus, an opportunity for many more students to prepare for college math and succeed in STEM majors and careers. The course will debut in the fall of 2023. 

“Readiness for college math is one of the most significant barriers to college graduation,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president, AP and Instruction. “AP Precalculus will prepare a much broader group of students to thrive in college math courses, regardless of where they start in high school math.”

The Mathematical Association of America has described students’ struggle with math as “the most significant barrier” to college completion. Forty percent of college students lack sufficient math experience in high school to enroll in college-level math, often spending valuable time and money on remedial math courses that don’t count toward their degrees. Nearly half of these students fail to fulfill the math requirement, contributing to long-running inequities in college success.

AP Precalculus is designed to address those challenges. Developed by college math professors and high school math teachers, AP Precalculus will create a new pathway to college-level math in high school. By making an advanced math course available to students regardless of where they begin their high school math journey, AP Precalculus opens the door for more students to bypass remedial math in college and succeed in high-demand STEM fields.

“A strong foundation in mathematics is crucial for many different fields, especially for aspiring STEM majors,” Packer said. “We think it’s important that all students have an incentive to stay invested and interested in math throughout their high school career and make a successful transition to college or a promising career.”

Half of American students don’t begin Algebra I until 9th grade. Providing them with an AP credit opportunity for precalculus will motivate many students to persist in four years of high school math and will significantly boost student readiness for the subsequent math and STEM classes.

Teachers interested in leading AP Precalculus can enroll in an AP Summer Institute that equips teachers with a deep understanding of the course framework, exam, and instructional supports. AP students and teachers receive access to AP Classroom, a suite of free, digital resources including instructional videos, formative assessments, and personalized feedback reports.

“There are so many dedicated teachers and advocates working to invite more students into advanced math courses,” Packer said. “AP Precalculus will help strengthen their work.”

Details about the course are available at cb.org/ap-precalculus.


What Others Are Saying About AP Precalculus

"AP Precalculus has the potential to improve preparation for calculus while providing access to Advanced Placement mathematics for a broader population of students,” said David Bressoud, DeWitt Wallace professor emeritus at Macalester College. “Among the strengths of its design is an emphasis on ways in which mathematics can be used to model and thus gain insight into contemporary issues of importance."

“Completing advanced math courses in high school has a greater impact on whether students will graduate from college than any other factor—including family background,” said Adrian Mims Sr., founder and CEO of The Calculus Project. “If we want to foster real education reform that prepares all students for postsecondary success, it is imperative for math educators to ensure AP Precalculus courses are inclusive, representing the rich diversity of our nation.”

“The AP Precalculus course content leverages research on learning calculus that calls for precalculus to include a focus on students conceptualizing quantities' values and considering how they are related and vary together,” said Marilyn Carlson, professor at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at Arizona State University. “Including a focus on exploring how quantities change together allows students to understand and define growth patterns described in applied problems using function formulas and graphs.”

“AP Precalculus is a well-balanced and meaningful course that will be beneficial for every student regardless of their intended future plans,” said Julie Harrison, Mathematics Laboratory Director at Spelman College. “The content captures the modeling of our dynamic, changing world, which can ignite a passion and appreciation for the pursuit of many areas related to mathematics.”  

“AP Precalculus will open the door for many students to advanced course studies in mathematics and will bring a college-level course to students who may not have access to other AP math classes,” said Brendan Murphy, mathematics teacher at John Bapst Memorial High School. “It will level the playing field for underserved students, and all students who have completed an Algebra II course [or equivalent class] will be able to succeed in this course.”