Selecting a Fundamentals Math Course

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to take a mathematics course?

Mathematics is the fundamental tool of the social and natural sciences and technology and is employed in a wide range of academic and professional fields. Understanding and competency in elementary mathematics and quantitative skills are crucial components of a contemporary education. For these reasons, a fundamentals course in the mathematical sciences is part of SMU's General Education Curriculum.

Should I take a mathematics course during my first semester?

Most incoming students do far better in mathematics when the concepts are still fresh in their minds from high school. Therefore, it is a good idea to take a mathematics course during your first semester and continue taking mathematics courses until you have fulfilled your mathematics fundamentals requirement or completed the mathematics courses needed for your major.

What courses fulfill the mathematics fundamentals requirement?

Math 1307. Introduction to Mathematical Sciences.Permutations and combinations, probability, Markov chains, linear programming, elementary statistics, and mathematics of finance.

Math 1309. Introduction to Calculus for Business and Social Science. Derivatives and integrals of algebraic, logarithmic, and exponential functions with applications to the time value of money, curve sketching, maximum-minimum problems, and computation of areas. Applications to business and economics. (Natural science and engineering students must take Math 1337).

Math 1337. Calculus with Analytic Geometry I. Differential and integral calculus for algebraic, trigonometric, and transcendental functions, with applications to curve sketching, velocity, maximum-minimum problems, and areas.

Stat 1301. Introduction to Statistics. Introduction to collecting observations and measurements, organizing data, variability, and fundamental concepts and principles of decision-making. Emphasis is placed on statistical reasoning and the uses and misuses of statistics.

What mathematics course should I take if I have not decided on a major?

If you were a strong mathematics student in high school, you should take Math 1337 Calculus I. This choice will keep all options open to you. This is especially true if you are considering majoring in the natural sciences, economics, business, or engineering or pursuing a pre-medical or pre-dental program of study.

Math 1337 is accepted by the Cox School of Business and is the preferred choice for Economics, as it will allow you to continue on with Math 1338 Calculus II should you decide to pursue the B.S. degree in Economics. 

Is it possible to take a mathematics fundamentals course at another university?

Following SMU matriculation, students must meet the mathematics fundamentals requirement and complete Math 1309 or 1337 through SMU coursework.

Is it possible to get credit for mathematics fundamentals prior to SMU matriculation?

SMU grants credit for Math 1337 Calculus I for a score of 4 or better on the Calculus AB or Calculus BC Advanced Placement (AP) Exam. Students that receive a score of 3 on the Calculus BC exam and an AB subscore of 4 or better will also receive credit for Math 1337. Students that receive a score of 5 on the Calculus BC exam will be granted credit for both Math 1337 and 1338.

Credit exams for a variety of first and second year mathematics courses can be taken during your AARO session or during the week before classes begin. Additional information and sample exams are available for these Credit Exams.

If you are a transfer student, you may receive credit for college courses through the normal course approval process. 

How do I know if I am ready to take calculus?

The mathematics department encourages all students that have taken a precalculus course to take the placement exam in order to assess whether they are ready to begin calculus. Students should prepare for the placement exam by working the Sample Placement Exam. If you do not take the placement exam or do not pass the exam, then you are required to take one of the precalculus courses. No credit is granted for passing the precalculus placement exam.

Students that have taken some calculus in high school are exempt from having to take the placement exam and can proceed to calculus. Students not planning to take calculus can enroll directly in Math 1307 or Stat 1301 without taking the placement exam. 

What is the difference between Business Precalculus (Math 1303) and Precalculus (Math 1304)?

The main difference between the two precalculus courses is that Math 1304 includes trigonometric functions as one of its topics. This topic is needed in Math 1337 Calculus I, but not in Math 1309 Business Calculus. Either of the precalculus courses provides excellent preparation for Business Calculus. 

What grade do I need in precalculus in order to proceed to calculus?

Math 1337 Calculus I requires a C- or better in Math 1304 and Math 1309 Business Calculus requires a C- or better in Math 1303 (or Math 1304). From a practical point of view, you should make every effort to achieve at least a B- in precalculus as only about half of the students that receive some kind of a C in precalculus successfully complete Calculus or Business Calculus with a C- or better. To do well in precalculus you should attend class, do all of the homework assignments, and get outside help from instructor, math help sessions, or learning center.

If you receive a D in precalculus and have not already taken the placement exam, it is possible to proceed to calculus by passing the placement exam. This approach is not recommended. 

What is the difference between Business Calculus (Math 1309) and Calculus I (Math 1337)?

The main difference between the two courses is that Math 1309 has a greater emphasis on business applications while Math 1337 has a greater emphasis on natural science applications including the use of trigonometric functions. Math 1309 is considered a terminal course while most of the students taking Math 1337 will continue on to Math 1338 (Calculus II); thus, the instructor's expectations of the students are somewhat higher in Math 1337. Another difference is that Math 1309 is taught in a large lecture hall with many students and Math 1337 is taught in an average size classroom with 25 to 35 students.

Both Math 1309 and 1337 are accepted by the Cox School of Business. Natural Science and Engineering students must take Math 1337. 

What is Math 1340 Consolidated Calculus?

Consolidated calculus is a course designed specifically for students that have taken calculus in high school, but either did not pass the AP calculus exam with a high enough score to get credit for Calculus I or do not feel that they are ready to jump right into Calculus II.  This course reviews Calculus I at a faster than normal pace and then covers Calculus II at the normal pace.  It meets three hours per week with an instructor and also has one 80 minute problem session each week.  Credit for this course is equivalent to receiving credit for Math 1338 Calculus II.  Students passing this course with a C- or better that do not have credit for Calculus I or Business Calculus will also receive three credit hours for Math 1337.

Can I take Math 1338 Calculus II after completing Math 1309 Business Calculus?

There are three options for moving from business calculus to the standard calculus track:

Option 1: Enroll in Math 1338 Calculus II.  You will have to learn some material on your own over the break if you want to pursue this option.  Math 1337 Calculus I covers some topics like derivatives and integrals of trigonometric functions that are not covered in Math 1309 Business Calculus.  The math department can tell you the particular sections that you need to study if you want to pursue this option and give you permission to register for a particular section of Math 1338.

Option 2: Enroll in Math 1340 Consolidated Calculus (only offered in the fall semester).  This course reviews Calculus I before covering Calculus II at the normal pace.  See above for a complete explanation of this course.

Option 3:  Enroll in Math 1337 Calculus I.  You would have to give up your credit for Math 1309 if you pursue this option since you cannot receive credit for both Math 1309 and 1337.  This is not a good choice for someone that received an A in Math 1309.

What mathematics course should I take if I do not want to take calculus?

Both Math 1307 and Stat 1301 fulfill the math fundamentals requirement. See the descriptions given above to determine which of the two courses is of more interest to you.