What are the High School Math Courses?

As a high school student, you will be expected to take a variety of classes across many subject areas, including math. While this may feel intimidating, these classes are designed to help you excel in math and prepare you for the collegiate level, as well as increase your ability to be successful in related subject areas (like science courses).

If you’re wondering what high school math classes await you, read on!

An overview

Most high school students are required to complete three years of math coursework, though four is recommended because certain colleges require it. Other high schools may require completion of math until a certain course is completed.

If you know that you don’t want to go into a field that requires advanced math and it isn’t your best subject, it can be useful to take other classes more related to your field of study after you’ve completed minimum math coursework. However, if you hope to work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), high school is a great time to begin exploring more advanced concepts.

Algebra 1

Generally, Algebra 1 is the first math class you are required to take as part of your high school career. You’ll study real numbers, exploring solving, writing, and graphing linear equations. You’ll also learn polynomials as well as quadratic equations and functions.

Many students take algebra classes during their freshman year, though math classes are assigned based on the results of a placement test. Because of this, high school math classes can contain students in different grades.


Many students who don’t otherwise enjoy math enjoy taking geometry. In geometry classes, you’ll likely learn plane and solid geometry—this includes constructions, measurement formulas, and formal proofs.

This class is typically taken following Algebra 1 and can also contain students in different grades due to placement tests.

Algebra 2

Unsurprisingly, Algebra 2 builds upon the skills and concepts covered in Algebra 1. This includes a deeper look at solving and graphing equations, as well as inequalities and functions.

Many Algebra 2 classes include trigonometry, which is not always taught as its own course (but it can be—see below…). For many students, this is the last required mathematics course in high school.


Usually taken during a student’s junior year (though it may happen earlier or even later), trigonometry is often worked into existing math courses, but some students may end up taking it as its own course. It involves both algebra and geometry and applying those concepts to circular and periodic functions.


This class is often offered as an elective for students who wish to take more advanced math classes. It examines series and sequences, probability, limits, derivatives, and statistics.

Many seniors take this class in preparation for the study of college mathematics.


It is a fairly select group of high school students who make it to calculus, but they do exist. This may particularly benefit you if you hope to study a math-related field in college.

During calculus classes, students can expect to continue the material taught in pre-calculus, now emphasizing integration and differentiation.

Other electives

Elective math classes can vary wildly by school, but may include computer math, math applications, and math literacy. These tend to focus on more real-world applications of math and may be taken by those outside the STEM field.

AP Classes

For students pursuing STEM work or education, AP classes can help differentiate you from the competition. AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC both demonstrate your skills to potential colleges and are offered at many schools.

[RELATED: What You Need to Know About the New AP Calculus Exams]

You may also be able to take AP Statistics, which some view as slightly less difficult than AP Calculus. It is also widely used and can be useful as you embark on college math work. For STEM students, AP Calculus may be a better choice—for other fields of study, AP Statistics can be more relevant.


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