Wednesday, June 21, 2017

FAQ: Picking the right math or statistics course, with or without AP scores

If you're planning to take Calculus, another mathematics class, or a Statistics class please see the advice on pp 34-35 of the First-Year Guide for advice based on your previous experience studying these subjects, reason for taking these classes, and AP or other test scores if applicable.  Please see below if you would like to review this information.  If you have more questions or feel uncertain, fear not!  Barnard Math faculty and Columbia Statistics faculty will hold placement advising hours during NSOP.  

If you wish to take a course in the Mathematics Department in your first semester, consider the following placement information to select the course most appropriate to your level of preparation.

College Algebra and Analytical Geometry is a course for students who intend to take Calculus but need a stronger foundation in mathematics to prepare for it.

The systematic study of college-level mathematics begins with one of the following alternative sequences: Calculus I, II, III and IV or Honors Math A and B:
  • Calculus: The calculus sequence is a standard course in differential and integral calculus. 
    • Students who have not previously studied calculus should begin with Calculus I. 
    • Calculus II is not a prerequisite for Calculus III, so students who plan to take only one year of calculus may choose between I + II or I + III. Students with an AP exam score of 4 or higher (AB or BC) may start with Calculus II or III. Students with an AP score of 5 (BC) should start with Calculus III. 
    • Calculus III requires a B or better in Calculus I and is a recommended option for some majors. 
  • Honors Math: Honors Mathematics A-B is for exceptionally well-qualified students who have strong advanced placement scores. It covers second-year Calculus and Linear Algebra, with an emphasis on theory. Students who have an AP exam score of 5 (BC) and who have strong mathematical talent and motivation should start with Honors Mathematics A, whether or not they intend to be mathematics majors. Students who contemplate taking this course should consult with the instructor. If this is not possible ahead of time, they should register and attend the first class.
  • Introduction to Higher Mathematics is a course that can be taken in the first or second year by students with aptitude for mathematics who would like to practice writing and understanding mathematical proofs.
Enrollment in all Mathematics courses is tentative, so you may visit different classes and switch from one to another with relative ease during the first two weeks of the term. Students are encouraged to consult with the Mathematics instructors and the Department adviser during Orientation and the first week of classes for advice about placement. 


The Statistics Department offers several introductory courses:

Students interested in statistical concepts, who plan on consuming, but not creating statistics, should take Introduction to Statistical Reasoning. The course is designed for students who have taken a pre-calculus course, and the focus is on general principles. It is suitable for students seeking to satisfy Barnard quantitative requirements, but it may not count for Barnard majors that require Statistics – check departmental websites to be sure. 

Students seeking an introduction to applied statistics should take Introduction to Statistics. The course is designed for students who have some mathematical maturity, but who may not have taken a course in calculus, and the focus is on the elements of data analysis. It is recommended for pre-med students, and students contemplating the concentration in statistics. 

Students seeking a foundation for further study of probability theory and statistical theory and methods should take Calculus-Based Introduction to Statistics.  The course is designed for students who have taken a semester of college calculus or the equivalent, and the focus is on preparation for a mathematical study of probability and statistics.  It is recommended for students seeking to complete the prerequisite for econometrics, and for students contemplating the major in statistics. 

Students seeking a one-semester calculus-based survey of probability theory and statistical theory and methods should take Introduction to Probability and Statistics. This course is designed for students who have taken calculus, and is meant as a terminal course. It provides a somewhat abridged version of the more demanding sequence Probability Theory and Statistical Inference. While some mathematically mature students take the more demanding sequence as an introduction to the field, it is generally recommended that students prepare for the sequence by taking Calculus-Based Introduction to Statistics.