Preparatory Courses

UCSC offers several math courses designed to strengthen skills that you'll need in future courses. Depending on your prior math experiences, much or all of the material covered in these courses may be familiar.

You are strongly encouraged to refresh your mathematical knowledge using your ALEKS Learning Module before enrolling in any of the preparatory courses.

College Algebra

College Algebra reviews topics from advanced algebra, including real and complex numbers, polynomials, rational expressions, exponents and radicals,  solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, functions, and graphs. 

Math placement tier: 100.

UCSC currently offers two versions of Math 2, College Algebra: Adaptive Instruction and Collaborative Learning. Both versions involve a lot of team work!

Math 2T, Preparatory Math, combines independent study in the adaptive learning system ALEKS with one-on-one mentoring.


Precalculus focuses on functions—how functions are defined, manipulated, and used in modeling real-world problems. Topics include inequalities and equations; linear, quadratic, polynomial, rational, power, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions; graphs; inverses and compositions of functions. 

Math placement tier: 200.

AMS 3, Precalculus for the Social Sciences, is intended for—you guessed it—students majoring in the social sciences, particularly Psychology.

Math 3, Precalculus, is for students in the physical or biological sciences, or engineering.