Calculus vs Statistics in high school

if you are wondering about which course you should take in high school, calculus or statistics. In this post, you will find the response.

In this post we’re going to respond to this question and also determine what are:

  • Calculus  subjects students study in high school
  • Statistics subjects students study in high school

Calculus vs statistics in high school

Statistics in high school is easier than calculus. In most cases, students study basic subjects that anyone could deal with them. But in calculus, things require more focus and concentration to digest calculus subjects like derivatives and integrals. So as a short answer, in high school, calculus is harder than statistics.

That doesn’t mean that you should take statistics courses in high school and ignore calculus. The best thing is to take them both.

But in general, if you want to major in the stem branch, which means majoring in physics, mathematics, or engineering. The priority is to choose calculus over statistics.

On another side, if you are interested in majoring in economics and finance domains, taking a course in statistics will be a priority. But at the same time, you will also need to study calculus.

So finally, it is all about what your vision is after high school.

The Calculus students study in high school

principally students in high school and especially in the 12th year study the 5 pillars in calculus which are:

  • limits
  • derivatives
  • integrals
  • differential equations
  • series


to not dig into details limits is a pillar subject in calculus, in other words, is a mathematical method that helps to determine the state of functions. to explain let’s talk about an example.

Trigonometry or calculus

Let’s say we have a pool and want to fill it with water. But the water debit at night is higher than a day. So we need to determine how much time we need to fill this pool during the night and compare it to a day to make the right predictions.

To determine the difference, we need, in this case, to use the limit function. We don’t want to go into technical details but just need to keep your approach of how much limit interested in math and calculus.

You can read this article 13 interesting reasons why the US focuses on calculus


the derivative is a second part that students learn in calculus. To simplify derivate is the ability to study the change of functions. Or, in other words, how things are evaluated in the environment.

It is hard to explain derivate for people who haven’t studied yet. But the example that will notice will be useful to give a close idea about derivatives.

 calculus in travel

let’s say we have a plane and we need to cross a distance between new york and Paris, which is 5834 km, and the plane speed is 1000km/h. So how of time need a plane takes to cross this distance?

the response is 1000/5834 = 5.834 hours.

but if we say that the plane speed is not constant in the first 2000 km, the plane’s speed is 800km/h, and the rest is 1000km, so how much time will it take a plane to get to Paris?

So as we can see, things are different.

You can’t calculate it easily. In this case, we need to use derivatives. We won’t tell you how to do that but just make the message clear.


The last and most important thing is integral in mathematics. Integral is used in many applications.

But in most cases, it is used to calculate surface and volumes.

Let’s say we have the following geometry form

calculate the air

if someone asks you to calculate the air of this geometry you won’t be able to do that. Because there is no specific rule that can calculate the air of this shape.

in this case, integral play its role. With Integral, we split each part of geometry and calculating it individually. So Integral can also be used to calculate:

  • airplane wings
  • cartridges, surfaces or volumes
  • any complex surface that can be measured in traditional ways

Differential equations

In high school students study also differential equations which are equations that solve variable derivative variables. To clarify differential equations are a very interesting subject in physics and engineering.

You could watch this video below explaining the differential equation in it all aspects

Series. The last things you will study in high school are series and calculus. In other words, series are functions that are used hugely in finance and insurance companies.

For example, if you need to know how much money you will have in your account when you retire, if you invest $1000 in a bank with a 5% of dividend, in this case, you use geometric series to calculate the cumulation money you will have after 20 or 30 years.

You can find in this video a good introduction to the series all you need to know as a beginner.

The statistics students study  in high school

We will list 5 principal subjects that students study in statistics in high school:

1 – Analyzing a single quantitative variable

Analyzing a single quantitative variable is analyzing a situation that has a single variable. For example:

  • Determining how many hours people are watching TV in a united stated
  • To take a data or one specific sample of this population to estimate how much people watch a specific program on tv.

In addition, you will learn how to compare distributions by studying people’s reactions over a period of time. For example, how much US popularity spends their time compared to Canadian popularity.

2 – Two-way tables.

The two-way table is a method you will learn in statistics that students study in high school to help them represent data. To clarify more, in the two-way table, you will learn how to describe the data you extracted from your problem.

For example, you have a pail full of candies, this pail has 4 categories of sweets:

  • candies that have chocolate
  • candies don’t have chocolate
  • candies that coconuts, and others that don’t.

The two-way table method allows you to classify candies in these forms, like in the table below.

Candies with chocolate without chocolate
with coconuts 58
without coconuts 34

So it is a simple method that helps you classify information and put it on a table.

3 – Scatterplots

In the high school statistics courses, you will learn how to transform raw data into the form of a graph below. Also, precisely analyze these data, as you can see in this example graph below.

statistics in high school

As you can see, these dots represent a number. The red color represents an operation called linear regressing, which draws a line that can be close as possible to all these points.

4 – Study design

In the study design, you study a lot of examples of surveys by analyzing their contexts. In other words, you will learn how to simplify problems and accurately gather information.

5 – Probability

probability is an interesting subject that high school students study in statistics. This subject is related to calculating the outcomes of the future events such as:

  • what is the probability of throwing a  coin and getting ahead
  • what is the probability that you will succeed in high school, etc

In probability you will study these 4 principals subjects:

  • Venn diagrams and the addition rule
  • Multiplication rule for probabilities
  • Permutations
  • combitronics


So as we noticed above taking a calculus or statistics course is depending on your vision. But taking both courses will be an excellent idea. Because both of them aren’t complicated much such mathematics topics that you will study in college.

The good thing to do as a recommendation is to take a calculus course which is harder than statistics in high school. Then take a statistics course in summer courses Because the statistics course will not take you more than 2 months while calculus can last more.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.