Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations

University of California at Berkeley


Subject Credit for Math ~ Frequently Asked Questions

Q:     I took the Math AP test (AB or BC) and received a score of at least a 3; which math class can I receive credit for?

A:     A minimum score of a 3 on the Math AB or BC exam is equivalent to Math 1A.

        Score of 5 on the BC Math is equivalent to Math 1A and 1B.

Please note: The College of Chemistry, the department of Business Administration, and the department of Economics use their own scale to determine AP subject credit for mathematics. Please check with them directly and plan accordingly.

Q:     So, if I got a 3 or 4 on the AB Math, I can enroll directly in Math 1B?

A:     Yes (with the exceptions mentioned above).

While the Math Department has found that a score of 3 or 4 shows that a student is ready to take college calculus, it is not an accurate indicator of how a student will do in a college math course. High school calculus is not necessarily the same as college calculus. The professor’s expectations of what the students should know and have internalized (and not just memorized) can differ greatly from what high school students might expect.

Various factors such as the strengths of a student’s math background, the schedule for the first semester, and work, commute, and any other time commitments play a crucial role in determining how a student will do in his/her first math course at Cal. If you feel that your math background is not as strong as you would like, you may choose to take Math 1A even if your AP score could waive the requirement. The units will count as part of your minimum units required for the semester, but you will not receive units for both the AP scores and the class toward graduation.

Q:     If I received a 5 on the BC Math, can I enroll directly in Math 53, Multivariable Calculus, or Math 54, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations?

A:     Yes. The only prerequisite for Math 53 and Math 54 is Math 1B. Math 53 and Math 54 are independent of each other.

Please note: Math 1B covers more material on differential equations than do the first-year calculus courses at most institutions (it covers first order ODE, population dynamics, second order ODE, oscillation and damping, and series solutions of ODE). If you enroll in Math 54, you will need to cover the aforementioned topics on your own.