Algebra is an essential foundation for higher math studies. But once you’ve completed Algebra 1 and 2, what math courses should you take in high school? Read on to learn about the common math courses that come after Algebra 2 and how to decide which advanced math classes are right for your academic and career goals.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: After Algebra 2, common math course options include Precalculus, Trigonometry, Statistics, Calculus, and Advanced Placement (AP) classes in these subjects.


Precalculus is a crucial math course that serves as a bridge between algebra and calculus. It covers a wide range of topics that are essential for students planning to pursue higher-level mathematics or science courses in college.

Precalculus builds upon the concepts learned in algebra and introduces new topics such as trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, matrices, sequences, and series.

Overview of Precalculus Topics

Precalculus covers various topics that lay the foundation for calculus. These include:

  • Trigonometry: Students will delve deeper into trigonometric functions, identities, and equations.
  • Exponential and Logarithmic Functions: The understanding of these functions is essential for solving exponential and logarithmic equations.
  • Matrices: Matrices are introduced to help students understand systems of linear equations and their applications.
  • Sequences and Series: Students will learn about arithmetic and geometric sequences, as well as their sums.

By studying these topics, students develop a solid understanding of mathematical concepts that are crucial for advanced calculus courses.

Who Should Take Precalculus?

Precalculus is typically taken by high school students who have successfully completed Algebra 2. It is recommended for students who plan to pursue majors or careers in fields such as engineering, mathematics, physics, or computer science.

Taking precalculus in high school allows students to be better prepared for college-level math courses and provides a strong foundation for future studies.

Precalculus vs. Trigonometry

While precalculus and trigonometry are closely related, they are not the same course. Trigonometry is a subset of precalculus and focuses primarily on the study of triangles and trigonometric functions.

On the other hand, precalculus encompasses a broader range of topics, including trigonometry, as well as other foundational concepts necessary for calculus. Therefore, students who take precalculus will also cover trigonometry as part of the course.

It’s important to note that the specific curriculum and course offerings may vary between schools. Students should consult with their school counselors or mathematics department to determine the best course of action based on their academic goals.


Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that deals with the relationships between the angles and sides of triangles. It plays a crucial role in various fields such as engineering, physics, and navigation.

In high school, trigonometry is typically introduced after completing algebra 2 and is considered an upper-level math course.

Right Triangle Trigonometry

Right Triangle Trigonometry is the foundation of trigonometry. It focuses on the relationships between the angles and sides of a right triangle. Students learn about the three primary trigonometric functions: sine, cosine, and tangent.

These functions help in solving real-life problems involving angles and distances. For example, they can be used to calculate the height of a building or the distance between two objects.

Unit Circle Trigonometry

Unit Circle Trigonometry expands on the concepts learned in right triangle trigonometry. It introduces the unit circle, which is a circle with a radius of 1. By using the unit circle, students can extend the trigonometric functions to any angle, not just those in right triangles.

This allows for a more comprehensive understanding of trigonometry and its applications.

Trigonometric Identities and Equations

Trigonometric Identities and Equations delve into the algebraic manipulation of trigonometric functions. Students learn various identities and equations that help simplify and solve trigonometric expressions and equations.

This includes the Pythagorean identities, sum and difference identities, double-angle identities, and more. Understanding these identities is essential for advanced math courses such as calculus and beyond.

For more in-depth explanations and practice problems, websites such as Khan Academy and Math is Fun are great resources to supplement classroom learning.


Statistics is a branch of mathematics that focuses on the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. It plays a crucial role in various fields such as science, business, economics, and social sciences.

In high school, students often encounter statistics as an upper-level math course after completing Algebra 2.

Collecting, Analyzing and Interpreting Data

One of the main objectives of studying statistics is learning how to collect, analyze, and interpret data. Students will acquire skills in designing surveys, conducting experiments, and gathering information from various sources.

They will also learn about different methods and techniques to organize and summarize data in a meaningful way. This includes creating graphs, charts, and tables to present data visually, making it easier to understand and interpret.

Measures of Central Tendency and Spread

Another important aspect of statistics is understanding measures of central tendency and spread. Students will learn how to calculate and interpret measures such as mean, median, and mode, which help determine the average or typical value of a dataset.

They will also explore measures of spread, including range and standard deviation, which provide information about the variability or dispersion of the data. These measures play a vital role in understanding and analyzing data in real-world scenarios.

Probability Distributions

Probability distributions are fundamental concepts in statistics that allow us to understand the likelihood or chance of certain events occurring. Students will delve into probability theory, learning about different types of distributions such as the normal distribution, binomial distribution, and poisson distribution.

They will explore concepts such as probability density functions and cumulative distribution functions, enabling them to make predictions and draw conclusions based on probability.

Studying statistics in high school can provide students with valuable skills that are applicable in various fields and future careers. It equips them with the ability to analyze data critically, make informed decisions, and draw meaningful conclusions.

Understanding statistical concepts can also enhance their problem-solving abilities and improve their overall quantitative literacy. There are numerous online resources and textbooks available to support students in their statistical journey, such as Khan Academy and Statistics How To, which offer tutorials, practice problems, and interactive lessons to reinforce learning.


After completing Algebra 2, one of the most common and important math courses to take in high school is Calculus. Calculus is a branch of mathematics that focuses on the concepts of change and motion. It is a challenging but rewarding subject that builds upon the foundation of algebra and trigonometry.

Limits, Derivatives and Integrals

Calculus is divided into two main branches: differential calculus and integral calculus. Differential calculus deals with the concept of limits, derivatives, and rates of change. Students learn how to find the slope of a curve at a specific point, calculate instantaneous rates of change, and solve optimization problems.

Integral calculus, on the other hand, focuses on finding the area under curves and calculating accumulated change.

Did you know? Calculus was developed independently by Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in the late 17th century. Their work revolutionized mathematics and laid the foundation for modern physics and engineering.

Applications of Calculus

Calculus has countless real-world applications and is used in various fields such as physics, engineering, economics, computer science, and even medicine. For example, in physics, calculus is used to describe the motion of objects, calculate the force of gravity, and analyze the behavior of fluids.

In economics, calculus helps economists model and understand complex systems of supply and demand. In medicine, calculus is used to model the spread of diseases and analyze medical data.

Interesting fact: Calculus was instrumental in predicting the existence of black holes in space. Scientist Karl Schwarzschild used calculus to solve Einstein’s equations and discovered the Schwarzschild radius, which defines the event horizon of a black hole.

AB vs BC Calculus

When it comes to choosing a calculus course, there are typically two options: AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC. AP Calculus AB covers a broad range of calculus topics, including limits, derivatives, and integrals.

AP Calculus BC, on the other hand, covers all the topics in AP Calculus AB plus additional topics such as sequences and series, parametric equations, and polar functions.

AP Calculus AB AP Calculus BC
  • Covers limits, derivatives, and integrals
  • Does not cover advanced topics
  • Equivalent to a semester of college calculus
  • Covers all topics in AP Calculus AB
  • Includes sequences and series, parametric equations, and polar functions
  • Equivalent to a full year of college calculus
Helpful resource: For more information about calculus and its applications, you can visit the Khan Academy website. They offer comprehensive video lessons, practice exercises, and interactive quizzes to help students master the concepts of calculus.

AP Math Courses

After completing Algebra 2 in high school, students have the opportunity to further their mathematical knowledge and skills by enrolling in Advanced Placement (AP) math courses. These courses are designed to provide a more in-depth understanding of key mathematical concepts and prepare students for college-level coursework.

In this section, we will explore three popular AP math courses: AP Statistics, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC.

AP Statistics

AP Statistics is a course that focuses on the analysis and interpretation of data. Students learn how to collect, organize, and analyze data to make informed decisions and predictions. This course covers topics such as experimental design, probability, statistical inference, and regression analysis.

It is a great option for students who are interested in fields such as social sciences, business, or healthcare, as statistics plays a crucial role in these areas.

AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus AB is a course that introduces students to the fundamental concepts of calculus. It covers topics such as limits, derivatives, and integrals, and emphasizes problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

This course is recommended for students who have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry and are interested in pursuing math-related fields such as engineering, physics, or computer science. Successful completion of this course may also allow students to earn college credit.

AP Calculus BC

AP Calculus BC is an extension of AP Calculus AB and covers additional topics such as infinite series, parametric equations, and polar coordinates. This course is more rigorous and demanding than AP Calculus AB and is recommended for students who are particularly interested in mathematics or planning to pursue a math-intensive major in college.

By completing AP Calculus BC, students can demonstrate their proficiency in advanced calculus concepts and may be eligible for college credit or advanced placement in college math courses.

For more information about AP math courses, you can visit the official College Board website at This website provides detailed information about the curriculum, exam format, and resources available for each AP math course.


After progressing through Algebra 1 and 2, you have many options for advanced high school math courses including Precalculus, Trigonometry, Statistics, Calculus and AP classes. Consider your academic strengths, career goals and interests when deciding which math classes to take.

Precalculus provides essential preparation for Calculus, while Statistics is applicable to a wide range of fields. An AP math class can allow you to earn college credit. Whichever math courses you choose, they will provide a strong foundation for college and career success.

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