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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
April 23, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Calculus Options and Preparation Evaluation

How do I select the appropriate calculus course ?

Students entering any program offered by the Physics & Computer Science department are required to take calculus in first year.

  • The  calculus requirement for all programs in Physics & Computer Science is "MA110* (or MA103)".
  • MA104 is required for students in the Computer Science & Mathematics program and for students who are taking a mathematics minor. These students would either take MA103 and MA104 in first year or take MA110* in first year and MA104 in second year.

Do I take MA110* or MA103 ?

We expect that most of our students will be taking MA110*.

The Mathematics department describes the differences between MA110* and MA103 as follows:

MA103 and MA110* can be thought of, in one way, as equivalent courses taught in two different ways. MA103 assumes the student has a relatively strong mathematical background, and completes the material in one term (half-credit). MA110*, however, incorporates additional emphasis on basic algebra, trigonometry and limits along the way, completing the material over two terms (one full-credit). For example, MA110* will take a closer look at properties of exponential and logarithmic functions and spend some time discussing trigonometric functions, as these functions are encountered in the course work.

All students must write the Calculus Preparation Evaluation  (CPE) before registering for any calculus course. The evaluation is available online at Calculus Preparation Evaluation and a practice evaluation is also available at the site. courses. The CPE tests calculus preparation, i.e. functions, not calculus.
NOTE: if you can't register for the calculus course, you will also not be able to register for the calculus based physics

Students who do well in the evaluation can elect to take MA103, a one term course. If you decide to take MA103, for most programs, you will add MA103 and a one term elective course to your schedule as a replacement for MA110* in your schedule. Students in the Business and Computing & Computer Electronics program who take MA103 will not take an additional elective. If there is an advantage to taking a particular course as the elective course, it has been noted in the Recommended 1st Year Course Selection page.

In summary:

  • You must write the Calculus Preparation Evaluation (CPE).
  • The CPE does not test calculus so you do not have to complete your high school calculus course before writing the CPE.
  • Write the CPE early, i.e. May or June,  so that you can construct the best schedule for yourself.
  • You must write the CPE before registering for calculus or calculus based physics.  The course registration system blocks registration for calculus courses until the CPE is marked.
  • If you did well in high school calculus (> 80) and you did well in the CPE (>80), consider taking MA103; otherwise, take MA110*.