Calculus Placement FAQs

The Mathematics Department offers four levels of calculus.

Math 115 is a standard first-semester treatment of one-variable calculus including limits, continuity, differentiation and optimization. Math 116 is the continuation course, stressing integration techniques, sequences and series. Math 120 is an accelerated version of Math 116; students placed into this course often demonstrate proficiency with integration but not with sequences and series on their placement test. Either 116 or 120 is a prerequisite for Math 205, our standard multivariable calculus course which covers partial differentiation, multiple integrals, cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems, and the various forms of Stokes's Theorem.

Q: What do I do if I have a question about my calculus placement or about what math class is appropriate for me?

A: You should have completed an online questionnaire and received a letter over the summer with your calculus placement. However, if:

  • you do not know your calculus placement, or

  • you have any questions about it, or

  • you are unsure about what course to take,

then please attend the Advising Fair during orientation and talk with a representative of the Mathematics Department. If Advising Fair has passed, please send your question to the department chair.


Q: Do I get credit for taking AP Calculus or AP statistics?

A: The following credit is given for AP courses:

  • If you score a 4 or 5 on the AB exam (or get an AB-subscore of 4 or 5 on the BC exam) you get 1 unit of credit, equivalent to Math 115.

  • If you get a 4 or 5 on the BC exam you get 2 units of credit, equivalent to Math 115 and Math 116.

  • If you get a 5 on the AP-statistics exam, you get 1 unit of credit, equivalent to Math 101.

These credits count toward graduation, but not for distribution requirements or towards the minimum number of courses required for the major.

If you do not take the AP exam or you do not score high enough to get credit for a course, you may still be placed into a higher course so that you do not repeat material that you have already studied.


Q: I am not sure I am well-prepared for the calculus course in which I was placed. Should I take a lower course?

A: Many incoming students lack confidence in their math background and assume that everyone else will be better prepared. In reality, this is not the case. In particular, students who have had AB-calculus have covered more material than we cover in Calculus I (Math 115), so the first few weeks of Math 116 will already be a review of the techniques of integration and should give you the opportunity to fill in your background.

If there is a question, it is better to start in the higher level course. You can always drop down to a lower level course, but it is hard to move up to a higher level course. You can discuss this issue with your instructor during the first week of classes.


Q: What if I place out ot MATH 205?

A: You can take Math 206 Linear Algebra or a variety of other 200 and 300-level courses.  Check out the page on choosing the first course or contact the math department chair if you are not sure what to take.