Information for First Year Students and Advisors

Attention: You need NOT purchase a new calculator for Math 101 or 102!

Special Fall 2014 Math Seminar just for First-Year Students

This fall, Prof. McRae will be offering a special seminar, Math 180: Close Encounters with the Impossible, and it satisfies the FDR: SC requirement. See the course catalogue (or contact Prof. McRae) for details.

Fall Term Introductory-Level Courses (no placement test needed)

In the fall, the Mathematics Department offers two types of introductory-level courses, Math 101/101B/101E (Calculus I) and Math 121 (Discrete Mathematics I), none of which depend on the others and all of which satisfy the University’s FDR: FM (Math/Comp Sci) requirement.

Math 101/101B/101E (Calculus I)

Most entering students take one of these three versions of Calculus I. It’s required for science and economics majors and is strongly recommended for certain other majors.

  • Math 101B is designed for and restricted to students who are Beginning calculus for the first time.
  • Math 101 is designed for (but not restricted to) students who have seen calculus before; in the words of the catalogue, “This section [Math 101] assumes that students have already seen some calculus, yet want to start over at the beginning of the calculus sequence.”
  • Math 101E is calculus with a biological flavor; to quote the catalogue, “It is designed and specially tailored for First-Years who took high school biology and who are taking a college lab science course concurrently. It is intended both for those students who have never had calculus before and also for those who have seen some calculus yet want to start over at the beginning of the calculus sequence.” So, perfect for pre-meds, pre-vets, pre-dental, etc.! Math 101E is taught by Prof. Toporikova, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics yet teaches in the biology department (her specialty is mathematical biology).
  • You do not need to take the W&L placement test to sign up for any of these 101 courses

Note that all 101 courses cover the same general topics (limits, derivatives, and integrals) but just at slightly different speeds, and all lead into Math 102 (Calculus II, satisfying FDR: SC) in the winter.

Math 121 (Discrete Mathematics I)

This course does not depend as heavily on skills taught in upper-level high-school mathematics courses as does Math 101 (Calculus I). Many topics in this course are of special value to those who also plan on taking computer-related courses. Students completing Math 121 will be eligible to take Math 122 (FDR: SC) this winter. The Math 121 and 122 sequence is a great alternative to calculus for those who do not want to learn about derivatives and integrals but who still want to get the FDR: FM and SC credits.

Enrollment in Math 101 and 121 is heavy in the Fall Term. Students planning to take one mathematics course solely to meet the University’s FDR: FM (Math/Comp Sci) requirement may wish to defer mathematics to the Winter Term (we plan on offering both 101 and 121 this winter) or until the following year. Students can also meet the FDR: FM requirement without ever taking a math class; CSCI 111 and CSCI 121 both qualify.

More Advanced Courses for First-Year Students (placement test rarely needed)

For first-year students with strong backgrounds in calculus, the Mathematics Department also offers Math 102 (Calculus II) and Math 221/221A (Multivariable Calculus). Admission of first-year students into these courses is granted on the basis of transfer credit or AP scores. Here’s how we award credit for AP scores.

  • 3 on the AB Calculus Exam: no credit; student should sign up for Math 101. However, student can instead decide to register for Math 102 under our Advanced Standing placement (see below).
  • 4 on the AB Calculus Exam: credit for Math 101 (FDR: FM). Student can register for Math 102.
  • 5 on the AB Calculus Exam: credit for Math 101 (FDR: FM). Student can register for Math 102. However, student can instead decide to register for Math 221A under our Advanced Standing placement (see below), but ideally only if the student has already studied sequences and series.
  • 3 on the BC Calculus Exam: no credit; student should sign up for Math 101. However, student can instead decide to register for Math 102 under our Advanced Standing placement (see below).
  • 4 or 5 on the BC Calculus Exam: credit for both Math 101 (FDR: FM) and 102 (FDR: SC). Student should register for Math 221A.

In rare cases when students have neither AP scores nor transfer credit yet want to take an advanced course, the Department will administer a placement test on Sunday, September 7 (2014), at 2:30pm in Robinson Hall 105 during orientation. Most students DO NOT need to take this placement test! It should be taken ONLY by students who satisfy ALL FOUR of these criteria:

  1. have completed at least a half-year of calculus in high school or elsewhere, and
  2. have not taken either of the AP calculus exams (Calculus AB or BC), and
  3. do not have IB credit or calculus transfer credit, and
  4. wish to be placed in a higher calculus course (either 102 or 221/221A) under W&L’s Advanced Standing policy (see below).

Advanced Standing Placement Policy

If a student is given Advanced Standing placement in Math 102 or 221A (by way of AP scores, IB scores, or the department placement exam) and successfully completes that course Fall Term with a grade of C or better, full credit will be awarded for any calculus course(s) skipped. This Advanced Standing placement option is available only in Fall Term. Placement-test results, departmental recommendations, and further details will be available during the Academic Fair (Tuesday, September 9 (2014) from 10am to 12pm) at the Mathematics table.

By the way, Math 221 and Math 221A are completely identical except that 221 is for anyone who qualifies while 221A is restricted to first-years (this gives our first-year math students the chance to get to know their fellow first-years).

No student will be forced to register for or remain in a higher-level course against his or her wishes.

Finally, for students who have already taken multivariable calculus in high school, we can place you into either differential equations (Math 332) or linear algebra (Math 222) or other courses; see the department head (Greg Dresden, dresdeng@wlu.edu) for details.