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May 19, 2020

Getting Out of Too-Easy Algebra Class

Question: When I was in high school I took an advanced calculus class and received good scores in that class. But when it came to my placement exam for college and I was given a few math questions, I rushed through them without completely finishing it on time. Now my college is trying to place me in a college algebra course. In reality I am way past that level but because I rushed through my placement exam, the results don't show that. I am not certain what to do because I don't want to take that class. What can I do to avoid taking that easy class. Thank You

If you have not done so already, contact the head of the math department at your university (or your academic advisor) and explain that you are worried that the algebra class will not challenge you. Did you take an AP Calc exam or other equivalent test (if you are international student)? If you did--and you scored well--then present your results as ammunition. You can also try providing a letter of reference from your high school math teacher, if you can get one, attesting to the level of math you have reached.


If you didn't take a calculus exam such as the AP, ask if you can try the placement test again. If the answer is no, and you seem forced into algebra, ask if you can also sign up for a back-up class and then drop the algebra if the professor agrees that it's too easy for you.

Good luck!

(posted 6/28/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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