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Math Course Selection and Advice

math advisement

About Calculus for Math and Physical Science Majors


Students pursuing majors in the Social Sciences, Biology, Geology (excluding Geology-Geophysics), Environmental Sciences, or following the Pre-medical or Pre-dental or Pre-veterinary Programs, and all students in the Carroll School of Management, will usually take their first Mathematics course at Boston College from among the following:

Not Had (Much) Calculus Yet?

If you've taken no more than one semester of Calculus in high school, your choice is simple: take MT100 Calculus I. In the Spring semester, if you wish to (or are required to) continue, you'll then take MT101 Calculus II.

Even if you've taken no Calculus or PreCalculus, MT100 Calculus I is still the correct choice for a first-semester Calculus course. The first three weeks of the course are essentially a self-contained (albeit brief) course in PreCalculus.

Had (A Lot of) Calculus Already?

Which of the MT100 or MT101 (or even MT202 Multivariable Calculus) courses is most appropriate for you is determined by these major factors:

  • the type of high school Calculus curriculum you studied ("AB," "BC," or "Other");
  • the results you achieved in these courses;
  • the results you achieved on the AP exam, if you took one;
  • your attitude towards mathematics;
  • your motivation to pursue a demanding program; and
  • your desire to advance more quickly through the requirements of your major.

Our general recommendations on which course you should choose as a first Calculus course can be found in the following table. In all cases where we suggest choosing one of two possible courses, you should almost always take the higher-numbered course if you have a positive attitude towards mathematics and are motivated to pursue a demanding program.

    Calculus Curriculum You Studied/AP Test You Took
    BC AB Other
The Result
You Achieved
AP Score of 5 MT101 or MT202 MT101 ---
AP Score of 4 MT101 MT100 or MT101 ---
A year of high
school Calculus
with mostly grades of A
MT101 MT100 or MT101 MT100 or MT101
A year of high
school Calculus
with mostly grades of B
MT100 MT100 MT100
  • Please remember that these are only general guidelines, and no student will be forced to register for one of the courses that might be suggested by the table above.
  • For students who have reservations about their abilities, or who are taking multiple science courses with labs, or who have heavy commitments in other disciplines, a conservative choice would be to "drop back" from a suggested course of MT202 to MT101, or similarly, to "drop back" to MT100 if MT101 is suggested.
  • Nevertheless, be careful to not be overly conservative if you choose to "drop back" from our suggestions. Taking a course that mostly repeats your high school Calculus curriculum will not receive your full attention, can lead to poor study habits, and sometimes even results in a poor grade.
  • Students looking for a deeper or more challenging mathematical preparation -- e.g., for those thinking about graduate work in Economics -- and students who would consider majoring in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science/BS, or Geology-Geophysics -- should see our advisement page for Math and Physical Science majors. In particular, there may be better options for students having a strong mathematical background and AP credit.