Preparing for College

Math Requirements for College Admission

Question: Many colleges require three years of math for admission. I took algebra before freshman year, geometry freshman year, and algebra II sophomore year. Do I have to take one more year of math (pre-cal) to be admitted to colleges?

Unless you are applying to a college (or program within a college of university) with a math or science focus, you'll find that there are rarely rigid requirements, only “recommendations,” and your algebra, even if taken before 9th grade, should “count” toward these. Just make sure that it appears on your high school transcript. It should, even if you took it at a different school, not the high school you currently attend. If not, ask your guidance counselor to add it.


While it’s not imperative that you continue your math career beyond algebra II, if you are applying to the most competitive colleges, it’s not going to be to your benefit to stop your math with sophomore algebra II. You’ll be up against other candidates who—even if not aspiring math majors, scientists, or engineers—have taken AP calculus.

If, however, you have taken some challenging science courses in your junior and senior years, elite-college admission officials will be more likely to overlook your math deficiency. Less competitive places should be satisfied with what you have accomplished so far.