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Precalculus and Calculus Placement and AP Credit

Students who may wish to take a calculus course at TCNJ are initially placed into one of the following five courses:

Intermediate Algebra (MAT095). This course focuses on the conceptual understanding and skill development of traditional algebraic topics. The course will prepare students for either MAT119 or MAT120. The course will not count towards the 32 course units required for graduation.

Introduction to Functions (MAT119). This course teaches students the foundational skills needed for success in Calculus for Business and the Social Sciences. The course topics include: the fundamentals of algebra, functions, exponential functions, logarithms, and financial models. Note: students who may wish to take Calculus A should take Precalculus rather than MAT119.

Precalculus (MAT120). This course teaches students the foundational skills needed for success in a Calculus course. The course topics include: the fundamentals of algebra, exponential functions, logarithms, and trigonometry.

Calculus for Business and the Social Sciences (MAT125). This course is intended for majors in business and the social sciences, and/or minors in statistics. Topics include differential calculus, integral calculus, and some linear algebra, with applications to areas of business and social science. This course is not for mathematics, science, or engineering majors.

Calculus A (MAT127). This course provides students with a solid grounding in single-variable calculus. Topics include functions and limits, derivatives and differentiation rules, applications of derivatives, and an introduction to integrals and their applications.

Initial Placement:
Students are initially placed into one of the five courses above using one of the options below, as chosen by the student. The placement criteria are chosen to ensure that students are placed in the course in which they are best prepared to succeed.
Option 1) Students who submit SAT or ACT mathematics scores to the college and wish to use these for calculus placement are placed as follows:

  1. Students with an SAT math score of 630 or above or with an ACT math score of 28 or above who have taken four years of high school math including Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry are placed in Calculus.
  2. Students with a math SAT score between 550 and 620 or an ACT math score between 24 and 27 and at least two years of high school math including Algebra and Geometry are placed in Precalculus or Introduction to Functions.
  3. Students with a math SAT score below 550 or a math ACT score below 24 are placed in Intermediate Algebra.

Option 2) Students who do not wish to use SAT or ACT mathematics scores for calculus placement take TCNJ’s math placement test. Information about the placement test is available on the TCNJ Mathematics Placement Exam page.

AP Credit Override:
A chart of the college credit TCNJ gives for AP Calculus scores and placement suggestions can be found here. Students who accept AP credit will be awarded credit for the relevant course(s) automatically and will be eligible to enroll in any appropriate ensuing course. This will override the student’s initial placement based on the above placement guidelines.

Some students who receive AP credit(s) for calculus choose to forgo the AP credit and retake the class(es) at TCNJ recognizing the faster pace and increased rigor of TCNJ courses. Others choose to accept the AP credit and do very well. This is a personal decision that should be discussed with an academic advisor, for example during the orientation meeting. Students will receive notification from the Office of Records and Registration regarding the process for declining AP credit if they wish to retake a course for which they have earned credit.

Summer options for overriding initial placement
Students who are initially placed in Intermediate Algebra (MAT095), Introduction to Functions (MAT119), or Precalculus (MAT 120) have additional options for adjusting their placement during the summer months.  These options include:

  • Students may take MAT095, MAT119, or MAT120 at TCNJ in the Summer 3 session. All courses will be offered remotely in 2021.
  • Students may take a course at another institution of higher education which will transfer to TCNJ as equivalent to a TCNJ course. Students who transfer an approved equivalent course from another higher ed institution with a grade of at least C are eligible to take any ensuing mathematics course, regardless of the initial mathematics placement. Course equivalencies for courses at NJ community colleges are available on the NJ transfer site. Any other course should be preapproved as transfer-equivalent by the chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. More complete information regarding transferring mathematics courses is available here.
  • Students may self-study using materials from high school courses or on-line resources. Links to some resources including Aleks and Khan academy are available here. Students who self-study may be given permission to retake the math placement exam in August, at the discretion of the chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Please contact the chair at to request permission to access the test in August.