When should you take trigonometry? High school math classes in order!

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Navigating high school curriculum can seem like a daunting task; let’s simplify things in the math department! If your child is deciding which math classes to take next, this handy guide will help make the perfect selection for next semester’s course schedule. 

And while these decisions should be weighed with care, there’s no need to fret too much about which path to take! High school sets the foundation for every student’s future—a future which is by no means set in stone; there’s plenty of time to refine their journey further down the road.

That said, there are several useful considerations to take into account when approaching high school math, and we’ll walk through each of them here. 

When should you take trigonometry? 

In general, trigonometry is taken as part of sophomore or junior year math. In addition to being offered as its own course, trigonometry is often incorporated as a unit or semester focus in other math courses.

It's important to bear in mind, however, that while math may proceed in a linear fashion most of the time, learning math does not necessarily follow that pattern. Like learning any other subject, when your student learns what can vary! But first, let's take a look at a typical progression of math subjects before diving into a more customized approach. 

Does trigonometry come before calculus?

What grade do you take geometry? Algebra? Calculus? First, let’s take a look at the typical progression of high school math classes:

  1.  Pre-Algebra
  2. Algebra
  3. Geometry
  4. Algebra II/Trigonometry
  5. Pre-Calculus
  6. Calculus/Statistics

Generally, kids take the classes listed at the top of the list their freshman and sophomore years and progress through the other topics their junior and senior years. 

Of course, there is lots of wiggle room within this sequence. Many high schools will combine some of these subjects into a single year of math, offer elective courses, and/or provide advanced or remedial math track options that will look a little different than what’s listed here. 

Plus, as we all know, learning isn’t exclusive to the classroom, even when it comes to math. An expert math tutor, engaging math competitions, and fun facts about math are just a few additional ways to enrich and support your child’s learning. 

It’s all about customization—a mindset that works well beyond approaching high school math curriculum. It also comes in handy for goal-setting for kids, selecting courses, electives, and after-school enrichment activities!

So when should you take statistics, pre-algebra & more?

The short answer to this is: when your student is ready!

But seriously, the first step in determining what trajectory is right for your child might just be to let go of the “shoulds” and ask instead what their individual learning needs and goals are. Not only will this take the pressure down a notch, you’ll be better able to work with your student to design the best learning path for their success. 

Here are a few considerations to get you started. (Think of these as a guideline to start refining your student’s high school math course selections.) 

Touch base with your child’s teachers and discuss the best options for them. Talk with their guidance counselor and teachers about their recommendations to support and enhance your child’s learning. They can provide insights, examples of your student’s work, and other valuable perspectives. 

Consider their future goals. If your child is interested in pursuing a STEM career, a strong foundation in math might be essential, and it’s worth planning ahead. Tailor the subjects and levels to what your student hopes to accomplish, and they’ll be more motivated to work hard on the way there.  

Build a balanced schedule. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and choosing the right math class for your student is just one of several responsibilities they’ll juggle. Taking honors biology? It’s worth considering what support might be needed to throw an advanced math course into the mix. 

Explore resources outside school. From fun math activities, to educational YouTube channels, math tutorials, and the many everyday ways to make math fun, there are numerous valuable resources outside the traditional K-12 environment.  Check out our math tips & resources page to get started, and think outside the box!

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains. 

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