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Selecting a Math Course

Selecting a Math Course

The steps below are designed to assist you with the process of determining in which math course you should enroll in your first semester. This addresses not only the appropriate math sequence, but also the appropriate course level. Students should first consult the schedule development recommendations for the major(s) they intend to pursue.

MATH 121 is the first of a four-course calculus sequence (MATH 121, 122, 223, and 224) and is required for engineering and most (but not all) Bachelor of Science degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences. MATH 125 is the first of a two-course calculus sequence and is required for many majors in the life, managerial, and social sciences. Pre-Health students should choose math courses based on their intended major. There are a few different ways to tell which course/sequence is right for you. First, review the schedule development recommendations for the major(s) in which you are interested; the recommended calculus course (if applicable) should be listed. Second, if you are planning on taking certain math courses beyond Calculus II (e.g. Calculus III or Differential Equations) you should take MATH 121, as MATH 125/126 is designed for students who do not need to complete more than two semesters of calculus for their major. You can use the General Bulletin to view required courses for your intended major(s) and review course descriptions to check prerequisites.

Eligible students with credit are encouraged to attempt the next course in the sequence. Those who are concerned about the strength of their background or would like to review the material of the first course in the sequence are permitted to repeat the course if desired. However, students should feel comfortable attempting a higher level course at the beginning of the semester. The first two weeks of each semester comprise the drop/add period, during which students in higher-level courses may opt to change their enrollments to a lower-level course if they feel that the initial course is too challenging. It will be easier for students to move to a lower-level course after beginning in a higher-level course.

Note: choosing to enroll in a course for which one already has AP, IB, or transfer credit means forgoing credit for the AP, IB, or transfer course.

Finally, if you are considering multiple majors that recommend MATH 121 or MATH 125, taking MATH 121 will provide you with the most flexibility as MATH 121/122 can be used as a substitute for MATH 125/126, whereas the opposite is not true. However, if you are fairly certain that you will not be pursuing an engineering or BS in the College of Arts and Sciences that requires MATH 121 and do not expect to take more math, MATH 125 would be the appropriate choice.

  1. Based on the results of the math diagnostic, at which level are you to begin your study of math at CWRU?
    • MATH 121 or 125 – Go to #2
    • MATH 120 – Enroll in MATH 1201
  2. Are you pursuing an engineering or BS in the College of Arts and Sciences?
    • Yes – Go to #3
    • Maybe – Go to #3
    • No – See the schedule recommendations for your intended major.
      Students with credit for MATH 121 can enroll in MATH 126 (if required by the major). Students with credit for MATH 121 and 122 will have satisfied the calculus requirements for a major that requires MATH 125 and 126.
  3. Did you take an AP/IB calculus exam or a college-level calculus course?
    • No – Enroll in Math 121
    • Yes - AP Calculus – Go to #4
    • Yes - IB Calculus – Go to #5
    • Yes - Transfer credit:
      • Credit for Math 121 – Enroll in Math 122
      • Credit for Math 122 – Enroll in Math 223
      • Credit for Math 223 – Enroll in Math 224
  4. Did you take AP Calculus AB or BC?
    • AB – Go to #6
    • BC – Go to #7
  5. Did you receive a score of 5, 6, or 7 on the IB Mathematics HL exam?
    • Yes – You have earned credit for Math 121; can enroll in Math 122
    • No – No credit earned; enroll in Math 121
  6. Did you receive a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam?
    • Yes – You have earned credit for Math 121; can enroll in Math 1222
    • No – No credit earned; enroll in Math 121
  7. What was your score?
    • 4 or 5 – You have credit for Math 121 & 122; can enroll in Math 2232
    • AB subscore of 4 or 5 – You have earned credit for Math 121; can enroll in Math 1222
    • 1, 2, or 3 with AB subscore of 4 or 5 – No credit earned; enroll in Math 121

Students who are planning to take the math diagnostic again during new student orientation may want to avoid registering for courses which would conflict with the MATH 121 or 125 recitation day/time (Tuesdays or Thursdays, 11:35 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.). This will help to facilitate any potential schedule changes.

Students interested in self-study should feel free to explore and use any available resources. The CWRU Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Statistics has identified aleks.com as a possible option. The fee-based service generates a study plan based on an individual assessment, and students move through the program by demonstrating mastery of each topic.

Students who wish to verify whether a course to be taken at another college or university is equivalent to MATH 120 at CWRU should be in touch with the Office of Undergraduate Studies at summerreghelp@case.edu or 216.368.2928.


1Students whose score on the diagnostic places them into pre-calculus will have the opportunity to take it again when they arrive on campus in August. Students who believe they would benefit from self-study or completion of a college-level pre-calculus course over the summer are encouraged to do so, but this is not required or expected. Students should feel comfortable beginning their study of mathematics at CWRU in MATH 120.

2Students who received a 4 on the AP Calculus AB or BC exams may want to consider repeating Math 121 (AB) or Math 122 (BC). Historically, students with a 4 on either exam have averaged a grade of "C" when moving ahead to Math 122 (AB) or Math 223 (BC).