Depending on placement and prior coursework, students sometimes have the option to take either precalculus* (MATH 114) or the MATH 171/217 sequence. While the MATH 114/221 sequence is essentially equivalent to the MATH 171/217 sequence, there are some differences that should be noted, in particular regarding sequencing and enrollment. Certain students may find one sequence over the other to be more appealing or useful, depending on prior experience and academic goals.
*Note: “precalculus” refers to either MATH 114 (Algebra and Trigonometry) or the combination of MATH 112 (Algebra) and MATH 113 (Trigonometry), which are our two regular precalculus routes. For the sake of clarity and brevity, we’ll refer to “precalculus” on this page as MATH 114. (Remember that course selection and requirements depend on placement and course credit; refer to our placement test and new student pages for more information.)
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What is the MATH 171/217 sequence?
MATH 171/217 is a twosemester sequence which combines Calculus I and “just in time” review of precalculus.
 MATH 171 is only offered in the Fall; MATH 217 is only offered in the Spring.
 Students must pass both courses in order to be awarded credit for the equivalent of MATH 114
and MATH 221, but MATH 171 does not equal MATH 114, nor does MATH 217 equal MATH 221.  MATH 171 alone does not qualify a student for any math course outside of MATH 217.
 If a student takes MATH 171 and does not take MATH 217, and then decides to take MATH 221, they must take the prerequisite coursework for MATH 221. No exceptions will be made!
Traditional & Hybrid Courses
Traditional Courses  Hybrid Courses  
Course  Name  Credits  Course  Name  Credits 
MATH 112  Algebra  3 cr.  MATH 171  Calc. with Algebra and Trigonometry I (offered only in Fall) 
5 cr. 
MATH 113  Trigonometry  3 cr.  MATH 217  Calc. with Algebra and Trigonometry II (offered only in Spring) 
5 cr. 
MATH 114  Algebra and Trigonometry  5 cr.  
MATH 221  Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1  5 cr. 
NOTE:
 MATH 112 + 113 = MATH 114
 MATH 171 + 217 = MATH 114 + 221
Course Contents of MATH 171/217
(may vary slightly from year to year)
MATH 171  MATH 217 
(offered only in Fall)

(offered only in Spring)

Prerequisites for MATH 171
MATH 96 or placement into MATH 171. MATH 118 does not fulfill the requisite.
For placement information, please see here.
Should I take precalculus or MATH 171?
It should be noted that either pathway is equally effective, though which course a student should more heavily consider is based on their goals.
We recommend MATH 171 to students who might benefit from immediate calculus exposure (such as engineering or other technical majors, like physics), or have seen calculus in a previous course. If a student enrolls in MATH 171, the assumption is that they will complete MATH 217 in the spring, since it is a fall/spring sequence.
Students not in the previous populations may instead consider the appropriate precalculus course(s) based on their course history and placement (i.e., MATH 112 and/or 113, or 114).
Again, students have the option to enroll in whichever sequence they’d like, though which one they pick may be affected by their academic goals.
Please speak to a Math Consultant (if at SOAR) or email placement@math.wisc.edu if you have any questions.