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Prerequisites and Placement

Intermediate Algebra
is a prerequisite for all other mathematics courses at Idaho State University, including those that fulfill
Objective #3 (except for MATH 1123 and 1127), and it is a prerequisite for many courses in other departments. 

As a result, most students take some algebra during their time here. It is important to start planning early and to anticipate the mathematics courses that you will need, including prerequisite algebra courses. The general rule is "Get started on your mathematics early." Many students who postpone mathematics until late in their academic careers find that they have to take algebra before even entering the mathematics course they need to graduate. As a result, their graduation can be delayed.

Planning requires two things: (1) understanding the prerequisite chain, and (2) proper placement. Please note that if you do not have the necessary placement exam score (ACT, SAT, COMPASS or ALEKS score) to enroll in MATH 1108, you must first satisfy the prerequisite course(s) for MATH 1108.



The table below gives the lower-level mathematics courses and the prerequisites for each. Start with a target mathematics course (the highest level math class you will need to take) and work your way backward through the prerequisite chain to determine which math course you need to begin with. You may also be eligible to enroll in courses up through Math 1170 with the minimum required placement exam score. (see 'Placement Exams and Scores')

  Prerequisite & Placement Chart - AF18

Transfer students should be aware that a course entitled 'Intermediate Algebra' at another institution does not necessarily transfer as MATH 1108 at ISU. It might transfer as a different course, depending on the content that was covered and the extent the material was covered. Or, it may transfer only as elective credits if it has not been determined to be equivalent to an ISU course or if it has not been articulated for equivalency at ISU.


  • Students must pass a course with a grade of C- or better if it will be a prerequisite for another course.

  • MATH 1147 is a combination of both MATH 1143 (College Algebra) and MATH 1144 (Trigonometry). Therefore, credit cannot be granted in both MATH 1143 and MATH 1147, or in both MATH 1144 and MATH 1147. (For example, one who takes MATH 1143 and then later takes MATH 1147 would earn no credit for the MATH 1143 course. In this case, taking MATH 1147 would erase the credit for the MATH 1143 course.) For this reason, students should determine early whether they do or don't need to take Trigonometry and plan accordingly.

  • Some degree programs require MATH 1160 and others require MATH 1170. Students may not earn credit for both. Taking one will erase the credits previously earned for the other. It is, therefore, important to decide which of these courses you need to take and plan accordingly. Note: MATH 1160 cannot be used as a prerequisite course for MATH 1170.

  • Teacher education courses, MATH 2256 and MATH 2257, can be taken in any order.


Accurate placement is the key to successful progress through the mathematics curriculum. The two main placement methods that ISU uses are:

  • Completion of coursework prerequisites with a grade of C- or better, or

  • Satisfactory scores on the ACT, SAT or ALEKS placement exam.

Scores from any one of these exams may place you into MATH 1170, Calculus I, or below. If you would like to see if you can enroll in MATH 1175, Calculus II, you can take the CLEP exam to see if you can pass the Calculus I material. For more information on taking the ALEKS or CLEP exam, or to schedule an exam time, click here to visit the Counseling and Testing Center website. To determine what placement exam score is needed to be eligible to enroll in a given course, please visit our 'Prerequisites and Placement' link on the Math Department's home page.


  • For placement purposes, prerequisite courses or placement exam scores must have been within the last seven years or will need to be repeated.

  • Effective December 1, 2016, ISU no longer administers the COMPASS placement exam, but we will accept COMPASS scores from exams that were taken within the last seven years but no later than November 30, 2016.