The Kate Edger Department of Mathematics

Stage 1 Information

Which Mathematics course should I take first?

Whatever your major, it is important that you choose the Mathematics courses that are right for you. For the vast majority of students, their first Mathematics course is either MATHS 150, MATHS 108, MATHS 110 or MATHS 102.

Check out the handy diagram below to help you decide which Stage I course is suitable for you, based on your NCEA achievement standards. You can also download the diagram as a PDF, with information about how to calculate your rank score.


NCEA achievement standard pathways diagram
NCEA achievement standard pathways for success in Stage I Mathematics

Important information

Students sometimes perceive that MATHS 102 is an “easier” course than MATHS 108 or MATHS 110 and that all three are “easier” than MATHS 150. However, they are all very different and suitable for different students.

  • MATHS 150 is for students intending to major in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Physics, Economics, Finance or Mathematical biology.
  • MATHS 110 is a general entry course for the physical sciences including Chemisty, Biology and Food Science.
  • MATHS 108 is a general entry course for students in Commerce and the Social Sciences.
  • MATHS 102 is for students without a strong background in Mathematics (fewer than 13 credits in Mathematics at NCEA Level 3).

MATHS 102 can be used as a prerequisite for MATHS 108 or MATHS 110. MATHS 108 or MATHS 110 can be used as a prerequisite for MATHS 150.

MATHS 102 cannot be taken consecutively with, or after a pass in MATHS 108 or MATHS 110. MATHS 108 or MATHS 110 cannot be taken consecutively with, or after a pass in MATHS 150.

Going straight from MATHS 102 to MATHS 150 is not recommended (even with an A- or better).

Frequently asked questions

If I have the prerequisites for MATHS 150 (or MATHS 108/110) can I still take MATHS 108/110 (or MATHS 102) instead?

Students often think that by taking the “easier” course it will help their GPA, but this is not the case. Recent grade comparisons, on students with similar qualifications, have demonstrated this. Mathematics is most engaging and rewarding if you are willing to challenge yourself a little.

Often, when choosing an “easier” option, students end up losing interest in the course and not performing well. Also, taking the more advanced course now will open up more options for you later and will equip you better for other courses.


If I haven’t got the prerequisites can I still enrol in that course?

Enrolling in a course for which you are not properly prepared is a bad idea and your chances of failing that course are very high.


Why would I enrol in MATHS 150 if MATHS 108/110 is all that I need?

MATHS 150 covers similar topics to those in MATHS 108 and 110, while giving students a stronger mathematical training. In particular, if you are planning a degree in Science (including Mathematics), a major in Economics or Finance, a double major or a conjoint degree, or are likely to do postgraduate study, then taking MATHS 150 now will give you more options later.


What if I still don’t know which course to take?

You know your own strengths and weaknesses better than we do. Talk to our advisers and sit in on any course you are considering. Decide where you feel you fit best and be sure to finalise your enrolment before the end of week two in the semester (or week one for Summer School). If you need more information, or if you are a student with exceptional circumstances, then please arrange to see one of the mathematics undergraduate advisers.