Mathematics Placement

Information for mathematics placement is posted below. Incoming students are not strictly placed into a course, but rather are given some flexibility to choose the course that is appropriate for them, according to the guidelines on this page. With that said, a Basic Skills Exam will be given in the third week of the semester in both Math 141 and 161. Students' final placement in Math 140, 141, or 161 will depend on their performance on this exam. See the Basic Skills Exam section below, and if you have any questions, email a Math Department representative at

First-semester math course options

There are a handful of options for your first math course at the University of Rochester. If you advanced credit of some kind (AP, IB-HL, A-level, O-level, transfer course, etc.), go to the advanced credit section at the bottom of this page.

Math 140: Foundations of Calculus -- this course is precalculus, including trigonometry and logarithms. If you have not taken a precalculus course, or it has been several years since you took one, then you should start in Math 140 before moving on to Math 141 in the spring semester, etc. Note: Math 140 is offered in fall only.

Math 141: Calculus I -- this is the first course in the 3-semester sequence Math 141/142/143 which mirrors the Math 161/162 sequence, but at a slower pace. Math 141 is for students that have already taken a precalculus course. If you have never taken any calculus before, or are not very confident in your precalculus ability (including trigonometry and logarithms), then Math 141 is probably a good choice for you. Note: Math 141 is offered in fall and spring.

Math 161: Calculus IA -- this is the first course in the 2-semester sequence Math 161/162. Math 161 starts at the same place as Math 141, but the pace in 161 is accelerated. If you have some prior calculus knowledge or are confident in your precalculus skills, then Math 161 is a good fit. Note: Math 161 is offered in fall and spring.

Math 171: Honors Calculus I -- this is the first course in the 4-semester sequence Math 171/172/173/174. Logic and mathematical proof is a focus throughout the honors calculus sequence. Honors calculus is open to anyone that loves mathematics and is interested in the finer points of calculus, though strong precalculus skills are a must. Some prior calculus knowledge is typical for honors calculus students, but not an absolute requirement. For more information, visit the Honors Calculus page here. Note: Math 171 is offered in fall only.

Math 150: Discrete Mathematics -- this course is separate from the calculus track and is required for computer science and data science majors. This course can be taken at any time; the only prerequisite is strong precalculus skills. If you are in the 140s calculus sequence we strongly recommend waiting until after Math 141 is complete before taking Math 150. Note: Math 150 is offered in fall and spring. 

Math 150A: Discrete Mathematics Module (1 credit) -- this one-credit course is available only to students in honors calculus. Since there is some overlap with honors calculus (logic and proof techniques in particular), students in Math 150A are not typically required to attend Math 150 lecture or complete homework. Math 150A students are required to take the exams in Math 150, however. Note: Math 150A is offered in fall and spring.


Guidance based on ACT/SAT scores

Here is some general guidance if you took the SAT or ACT math exam. This is meant as helpful information but is not binding in any way. We recommend Math 161 or 171 for scores of SAT 680+ or ACT 29+. We recommend Math 141 for SAT 600+ or ACT 24+, and Math 140 for SAT 590 or ACT 23 or lower.



Basic Skills Exam

All students in calculus Math 141 and 161 will take a Basic Skills Exam given in third week of the semester. Students' final placement in Math 140, 141, or 161 will depend on their performance on this exam. Registration adjustments will be made based on the results; for instance, depending on your score you may be moved from Math 161 to 141 (or 140) starting in the fourth week. The Basic Skills Exam is entirely precalculus material that is reviewed during the first two weeks of Math 141 and 161.

More information, such as when/where, will be provided by your calculus professor at the start of the semester.


Advanced Credit

Students with advanced credit (AP, IB, A-level, or transfer course) should consult the guidelines below.

  • Regarding credit for Cambridge A-level examinations or a calculus course at another college, students must get official course approval from a mathematics dept. representative by filling out our online form. For A-level approval please include a copy of your A-level transcript.
  • Students that scored a 4 or better in International Baccalaureate higher-level (IB-HL) mathematics are placed into MTH 162 and awarded credit for MTH 161. Students can also opt for MTH 171, although no advanced credit is awarded with this option.
  • No credit is awarded for IB-SL mathematics.

AP Credit

AP credit is given as follows:

AP CoursePlacementCredit
AB 3MTH 161No credit.
AB 4-5MTH 162 or 171One semester of credit
BC 3MTH 162 or MTH 171One semester of credit
BC 4-5MTH 164, MTH 165, MTH 171, or, in exceptional cases, in MTH 173Two semesters of credit if placed in MTH 164, 165 or 173. One semester of credit if MTH 171 completed.

Students who receive AP credit for MTH 161 may register for MTH 162 or MTH 171. MTH 171 is particularly recommended for students interested in mathematics, physics, or theoretical engineering who would like to gain a deeper knowledge of how and why calculus works so effectively.

Information on the different calculus sequences can be found HERE.

Questions regarding placement can be directed to a mathematics depart-
ment representatives by emailing


Question: I am interested in honors calculus but I have taken calculus before. Does it make sense for me to start in Math 171? What if I have AP credit?

Answer: Although it is not a prerequisite, almost all students in Math 171 have experience with calculus and many have AP credit. Honors calculus focuses on finer details and delves into mathematical proofs, so it is quite different than traditional calculus that you see on the AP exam. If you enjoy mathematics then it makes sense to give Math 171 a try. You can always change to a different course in the first couple weeks of the semester if you don't want to stick with it. For more information, visit the Honors Calculus page here. 


Question: I have two semesters of AP calculus credits and would like to start in Math 173. Is this allowed?

Answer: With two semesters of AP calculus credits, it is possible to start in Math 173. However, extensive experience with proof-writing is a prerequisite for Math 173, so if you do not have experience with proofs then you should start in Math 171 or 164 or 165. Email to explain your background and discuss starting in MTH 173.


Question: I have taken calculus before but my school did not have AP so I do not have credits. Is there any way I can skip calculus I?

Answer: It may be possible to test out of calculus by taking credit-by-exam, but first you need to discuss your situation with a math advisor to determine if this is appropriate. If you wish to take credit by exam, send an email to to explain your background and ask about credit-by-exam.


Question: I would like to take Math 141, but I did not take precalculus in high school and I have not taken a math course since my junior year. Is it okay to take Math 141?

Answer: Probably not. Precalculus is a prerequisite for Math 141, so if you have not taken precalculus then you should start in Math 140.


Question: Do I need to take math in my first semester?

Answer: It depends. If you want to keep open the possibility of a math-heavy major like Engineering, physics, or mathematics, then you should definitely take a math course in your first semester. Otherwise, you may not need to take math right away. Discuss this with your advisor or don't hesitate to email a math dept. representative at


Question: I scored a 4 on the BC exam and I see in the chart above that I can get credit for both Math 161 and 162. Do I need a signature or something else to get this credit or is it automatic?

Answer: As long as your AP scores were sent to UR, then you will get your AP credit automatically. It can take a while for it to show up in your record, but if you have any concerns in this regard you should contact CCAS (UR central advising).


Question: I have a question that wasn't answered above. 

Answer: Please see the Math Department advising page or email