Choosing the Appropriate Intro Math Class

Your choice of introductory level mathematics course generally depends on two things, school you are enrolled in and your potential major.


Overview of Math Requirements for various GW undergraduate programs

  • Columbian College of Arts and Sciences students are generally required to take one "Analysis" course (if admitted Fall 2011 and later) or two "Quantitative and Logical Reasoning" courses (if admitted prior to Fall 2011), selected from Mathematics, Statistics and Logic.
    • If you are interested in sciences (physical, mathematical, biological or the quantitative social sciences) you should be on the Calculus track. 
    • If your potential major does not require calculus consider taking Mathematical Ideas I, II (Math 1009 or 1010), Mathematics and Politics (Math 1007), or Dean's Seminars (Math 0801) as an alternative.
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science students (including Computer Science majors) should be on the Calculus track.
  • School of Business and Public Management students should generally take Math 1051 and 1252 or be on the Calculus track.
  • Elliott School students are generally required to take two mathematics courses.

Students in other programs should consult their Academic Advisor about their program's specific math requirements.
For more details on any of the above information, each student is encouraged to consult his/her advisor.


The Calculus track

If you are planning to take Calculus you should start with the placement test. It is a tool to help you find the calculus based math course most appropriate for your level of preparation. In some cases, AP (Advanced Placement) test scores or Math SAT II (the Math Achievement Test) scores may be substituted for the placement test (see the table for details). Please note that SAT I scores (i.e., the Math part of the Math &Verbal SAT) are not used for placement purposes.

The standard calculus sequence consists of a three course sequence: Math 1231 and Math 1232 (Calculus I & II), and Math 2233 (Multivariable Calculus). Your major requirements will determine how far you need to go in this sequence. Math 1231 is the typical starting place for a student with a good precalculus background and for students who have taken some calculus but have not received AP credit.

For students who are not quite prepared for Math 1231, the Math Department offers Math 1220-1221, a one year course sequence that combines precalculus with calculus. After completing Math 1220 and 1221 a student should be prepared to take Math 1232 along with students who have taken Math 1231.

Generally, if you have taken calculus in high school you should take Math 1231 rather than Math 1220. Math 1220 is intended primarily for students who are not quite ready for Calculus. It was specifically designed for students who have never taken calculus. Students who qualify to take Math 1231 should not take Math 1220.



If you have AP credit from a 4 or 5 on the AB Advanced Placement Test (or 4 or 5 for the AB subscore for the BC Test), you cannot then take Math 1231 for credit (your score already gives you that credit). Since Math 1231 is above the level of Math 1221 and Math 1252, you also cannot take those courses for credit if you have AP credit. Math 1252 is also a calculus course, but is not part of the standard calculus sequence required by many majors. It does not prepare students adequately to take Math 1232.

For more details on any of the above information, each student is encouraged to consult his/her advisor.