Math Requirements as a Premed

Hello to anyone that is reading this post,

To keep it short and sweet, I just finished my 1st year at college and I’m currently in summer break towards my sophomore year. I decided to take statistics in my spring semester and this summer break, I’ve decided to take elementary calculus as I know medical schools range from suggesting to have both statistics and/or calculus.

However, my university offers both elementary calculus and calculus I. My pre-med advisor told me that I’m fine with only taking elementary calculus and that it is enough to fill in my math reqs for medical schools considering I already took statistics last semester.

I’m feeling a bit worried since I don’t know if elementary calculus isn’t really going to be accepted and whether it matters if I took it over calculus I.

For context, I’m starting it today already over the summer break and it will be online because of COVID.

Lastly, are there any math classes I need to take other than my elementary calc class I’m currently taking over summer (if it’s okay according to the questions I’m asking above) and my statistics class?

Thank you for any insight.

The med students I know all took Calc I, but I think there are schools which don’t require it. I’m flagging @WayOutWestMom because she knows far more than I do and should be able to give you her thoughts.

How strong was your math prep in HS? Regardless of which Calc you take, you are going to struggle in Chem if your core math skills aren’t solid… how did you do in math in HS??

Your advisor should be able to suggest the right course for you in the context of your school. You may be able to use this site for general planning, however:

1 Like

Thinking of other courses, Physics will also be a problem if your math skills aren’t solid. You can do side work online (not as a course) to help your math skills if you identify a weak point. It’s a thought to keep in mind.

1 Like

I don’t have a problem with physics nor chemistry as I ended up with A’s my freshman year so far and I got an A in high school in AP Physics 1. My math skills are fine and I took AP Calc BC in high school, but all I’m wondering about is whether the elementary calculus class I chose in summer is good enough? I already took stats last semester and got an A, and I’m currently taking elementary calculus in summer.

Is there a class called elementary calculus 2?
Is “regular” calculus 1 offered offered over the summer?

No, there’s elementary calculus, calculus 1, and calculus 2. To take calc 2, you have to take calc 1, but I took elementary calculus knowing that med schools typically require a semester of calc (which I’m taking right now in the summer, elementary calc) and 1 semester of stats (which I took last semester and got an A on). I’m just not sure if it makes a different on whether I took elementary calculus instead of calculus 1. The difference is basically that calc 1 is more theoretical and elementary calc is more application.

Ok, that makes sense.
If your major doesn’t require more math and this course is sufficient for General chemistry and General physics, then you’re good. :slight_smile:
You will likely need to review calculus before you take the MCAT but everyone has to.
What’s your major?

If you’ve already had AP Calc BC I would think you’re taking a big step back going to Elementary Calc. Does your college give you credit for your AP?

Elementary calc does indeed provide me the necessary credit for gen chem and gen phys, and that’s why I thought it was enough for me instead of just going the extra mile taking calculus I. But now I’m just worried that med schools will view elementary calculus as “less” or “worse” than the calc 1 option.

No, I didn’t do quite good on my AP exam unfortunately. That’s why I decided to just take elementary calc as the BC class kind of scarred me lol.

You probably want to check the MSAR to see if any medical school you may apply to has a calculus requirement that elementary calculus does not fulfill.

I already did and it just says calculus and statistics. Nothing goes into detail as to what specifically in calculus is required.

I think you’ll be okay if you demonstrate you can use calculus in your classes AND on the MCAT. At worst just take the 2nd level of calculus after Elementary calculus as an extra class to demonstrate proficiency.
Has your adviser confirmed premeds at your college typically take that class? What majors take calculus I?
What’s your major? Current gpa? Science classes taken so far ?

I can’t take calculus 2 with elementary calculus, to take calc 2 at my university, I must’ve taken calc 1 as a prereq. My premed advisor told me to just take elementary calc as I don’t need calc 1 and that I got an A in statistics already.

As for your other questions, I’m a biology major, currently going to my 2nd year. I’ve taken gen chem 1 and gen bio 1, and I’ve had a 3.98 GPA so far.

1 Like

In that case, you should be taking Calculus 1, because you’ll need that class for the MCAT (ie., if Elementary Calc doesn’t lead to ny upper level class then it’s not the right choice for med schools). Most applicants will have 2 semesters of single variable calculus under their belts. MCAT problems will reflect either one “heavy” semester of calculus or two “light” semesters of calculus, not one light semester.
Your GPA is great and it sounds like you did very well in General Bio and Gen Chem, two weedout courses.
Do reconsider majoring in Biology: although it’s an interesting subject, there’s an oversupply of biology majors and very few jobs they can do (as most Biology positions with decent pay require a Master’s degree or even a PHD). As a result, the ROI is very low… and on top of it, med schools really want a broad variety of majors, ie., odds are better if you can manage another major along with the premed pre-reqs.
What about chemistry? physics? bioinformatics?

I mean, the elementary calc class I’m taking is giving me the prereq I need to take gen physics 1, so I don’t see why I need to take calc 1. According to my research and my premed advisor, med schools look for a semester of calculus and a semester of statistics for math. I don’t see why I’d need more mathematics classes other than for MCAT preparations that I can learn myself without having to take a whole class for it.

As for the majoring thing, I don’t really have any other interests other than biology. I don’t see why I should major in something else for job prospects if my goal is solely put on going into medical school.

I don’t see why I should major in something else for job prospects if my goal is solely put on going into medical school.

Because every year 60% of those who apply to medical school do not get a single acceptance. That 60% failure rate number includes almost 15% of high stats applicants. (GPA>3.75 and MCAT >517)


Every pre-med needs to have a Plan B career path because gaining an acceptance to med school is FAR from guaranteed.


There’s always a plan B and C to get into medical school. I disagree with the notion that just because there’s a 60% failure rate, that means that I should have a plan B and C for other careers.

I’d agree more on having a plan B and C on what to do if rejection were to occur in order to get accepted the next cycles.