Choosing a first-year Math classSMU offers two flavors of pre-calculus/calculus I and one non-calculus math course, and many students ask which they should choose. In general,
- If you plan to pursue a degree in the fine arts or humanities, you can take MATH 1307: Introduction to the Mathematical Sciences.
- If you plan to pursue a degree in business, you should take MATH 1309: Business Calculus (and MATH 1303: Business Pre-Calculus if necessary).
- If you plan to pursue a degree in any STEM field, you should take MATH 1337: Calculus I (and MATH 1304: Pre-Calculus if necessary).
Note that not all students planning to enter the Cox School of Business actually get in, and several of the majors chosen by students who do not get in require Calculus II. Whereas the Cox school accepts regular calculus (MATH 1337) in place of business calculus (MATH 1309), the reverse is not true -- business calculus is not a sufficient pre-requisite for Calculus II. Thus, if you are in doubt, the safest option is to take the regular calculus sequence.
More information about selecting an appropriate first year mathematics course and the preparation needed for that course can be found at: FAQ's about Mathematics Fundamentals Courses.
Placement Exams for Calculus I
SMU has several different entry-level calculus courses. They are all challenging, and we want you to succeed, so depending on your past exposure to calculus, you may be required to take a placement test before enrolling. These exams should be taken online through Canvas before your AARO session. Guidelines for the placement exams include the following scenarios:
- If you passed an AP or IB exam with the required score, you will receive SMU credit for the appropriate course(s). We do *not* recommend that students give up AP/IB credit to re-take calculus at the college level. If you plan to take additional math classes, you may enroll in them directly at AARO session, without taking a placement test.
- If you took calculus in high school, but did not receive AP credit, and your major requires calculus, you may enroll directly (without taking a placement test) in the calculus course appropriate to your intended major (MATH 1309 or MATH 1337 -- see below). Alternatively, you may choose to take the placement test to get into MATH 1340: Consolidated Calculus, which reviews essential concepts from Calculus I, before covering all the topics in Calculus II, and awards credit for both courses in a single semester. This option is strongly recommended for students entering STEM fields.
- If you did not take calculus in high school, but your major requires calculus, you may enroll directly (without taking a placement test) in the pre-calculus class appropriate to your intended major (MATH 1303 or MATH 1304 -- see below). Alternatively, you may choose to take the placement test to get into the Calculus I course appropriate to your intended major (MATH 1309 or MATH 1337 -- see below).
Note that students may take a placement exam only once, though in principle you may attempt each of the exams. Also note that MATH 1307: Introduction to the Mathematical Sciences does not require a placement exam.
Credit Exams for Special Circumstances
If you did very well in an honors-level or college-level calculus class in high school, but were for some reason unable to take an AP/IB exam, you may take an appropriate credit exam for Math 1309 (Business Calculus), Math 1337 (Calculus I) or Math 1338 (Calculus II) during move-in week. Credit exams are not available online, and must be taken in-person in the Math department during move-in week. You should contact the Math department over the summer to schedule such an exam. If you pass the credit exam (which is approximately as difficult as an AP exam), you will receive the relevant SMU credits.
If you took courses beyond Calculus II in high school, but did not receive college credit for those courses, please contact the math department to discuss your options.