Calculus Placement

There are many factors that contribute to student success in calculus at Lehigh, including the rigor of the student's preparation and the student's motivation and work ethic.  In our experience, students are more likely to be successful in calculus if they have solid mastery of algebra and trigonometry, can work with functions without using a graphing calculator (calculators are not used in exams or quizzes at Lehigh calculus courses), are good at providing verbal descriptions of their mathematics problem-solving approaches, and scored at the 600-650 level or better on the SAT mathematics test. There is a considerable body of evidence that strongly suggests that students with no prior exposure to calculus are likely to encounter difficulties in MATH 021.  Students also need to motivate themselves to work hard.
The college has a 3 credit Mathematics requirement as part of its distribution requirements.  Only certain majors require calculus and there is no college-wide calculus requirement.  Students should not feel that they must take the most demanding course for which they meet the placement guidelines.  For example, if you want to major in biology and are certain you will not want nor need to take advanced mathematics courses requiring MATH 022 as a prerequisite, you might want to consider taking MATH 051, with the majority of the other biology majors, even if your SAT Math score is 700.  With the above in mind, students should register for a calculus course based on the following guidelines:
MATH 021 – Calculus I (mathematics, physics, computer science, most chemistry majors)
  • SAT Math score of 650 or greater
  • ACT Math score of 28 or greater
MATH 051 – Survey of Calculus I (biological sciences, pre-health track, architecture)
  • SAT Math score of 600 or greater
  • ACT Math score of 26 or greater
  • Those with scores in the lower range (600-649) might consider the MATH 075/076 sequence, but only if MATH 020 sequence is required, and students should keep in mind that 075/076 covers the material in greater depth than MATH 051 despite the slower pace.
MATH 075/076 – Calculus I, Part A & B (you need MATH 021 but also need to move more slowly)
  • SAT Math score of 600-649
  • ACT Math score of 26-27
  • If you need MATH 021 but your SAT Math score is in the 600-649 range, then you are advised to register for MATH 075 and the next semester MATH 076.  These are courses that break the material of MATH 021 into two 2 credit courses over two semesters.  Completing MATH 075 & 076 substitutes for completing MATH 021.
MATH 000 – Preparation for Calculus (for students not ready to start calculus at Lehigh)
  • SAT MATH score below 600
  • ACT Math score of 25 or lower
  • Students who need calculus and have an SAT Math score below 600 should enroll in MATH 000, Preparation for Calculus.  This course is for students who need more preparation before moving on to calculus. This 2 credit course does not count toward the total number of credits required for graduation or the CAS math distribution requirement, but the grade does count in the student’s GPA. 
MATH 081: Calculus I with Business Applications 
  • SAT MATH score of 625 or greater
  • ACT Math score of 27 or great
  • Open only to students in the College of Business and Economics*
  • Students who may transfer to the College of Business and Economics are required to have MATH 081 or MATH 021. MATH 051 is not accepted for CBE. 
*CAS students require special permission from the Math Department to enroll in MATH 081. May be used toward CAS majors in Economics or the joint International Relations and Economics. 
Students with questions about calculus placement should contact