If you’re thinking of taking calculus next semester then you might be wondering how difficult it will be.

This post will show you how hard calculus is in college and what you can do to make it easier.

So, is calculus hard in college? Calculus is not generally considered one of the more difficult math classes. However, it can be difficult if you’re taking the honors version or if you have a particularly difficult professor.

There are actually a number of factors that will impact the difficulty of the class for you and there are a number of things that you can do to make it easier.

How hard calculus is in college

It depends on what you already know

How difficult calculus, in college, will be for you will largely depend on what you already know.

If you have already taken math up to precalculus then you will likely find calculus to be of a similar difficulty as precalculus.

If you have not taken precalculus then you will still be able to do well in calculus. However, you will need to put in some extra work than the other students and there will be some trigonometric functions that you will need to learn but it will be achievable.

If you have already taken calculus as an AP class then you might be able to get credit for it in college so you can skip to integral or multivariable calculus if you already did integral calculus.

It depends on the professor

The level of difficulty of a calculus class can vary a lot depending on the professor. The professor will dictate the pace of the class, what material gets covered and how much homework there is. Some professors will give study guides and others will tell you to know everything from the book.

Most calculus professors will not ask for any proofs and it will almost entirely be computational. However, some calculus professors will ask for proofs. Most students tend to struggle with proofs especially if they have not already taken an introduction to proofs class.

Before selecting the class it would be worthwhile to see what other students have said on ratemyprofessors.com. Make sure to schedule your classes early since the recommended professors will have their classes fill up quickly.

You will need to study outside of class

Calculus will be a class where it will be necessary for you to study outside of class a lot.

In calculus, there tends to be a lot of homework that gets set, some of the concepts can be tricky to understand at first and there will be many different ways to ask similar questions. With that being the case, it will be necessary to see lots of different variations of questions before going into exams.

Ways to make calculus easier

There are a number of things that you can do to make calculus go by more smoothly that I will mention below.

Plan out the entire semester

It is important to plan the entire semester out during the first week of classes. By doing so you will be able to spot potentially difficult weeks, before they come, avoid missing due dates and know when you need to start focusing on a certain class.

Make sure to do well on the homework

The weighting that gets given to the homework can often be high in calculus. Many students don’t take the homework seriously. However, this is a mistake since doing well on the homework will help boost your grade, make up for bad exam results and help you to do better on the exams.

You can ensure that you do well on the homework by reading the book before starting it, avoiding waiting until the day before it is due and using resources such as Google and Youtube to study parts that you get stuck on.

One other option would be to use the website chegg.com where they will give you to solutions to the different textbooks. However, it is important to make sure that you actually learn the material and avoid simply copying the answers otherwise you will struggle on the exams.

Read the book before jumping to the problems

Many students will jump to the problems before reading the relevant chapter from the textbook because they want to save time. The problem with this is that the problems will be based on what is in the textbook and the professor will often skip over sections from it.

Instead of jumping straight to the problems you will likely have a much easier time if you read the chapter before jumping to them.

Get help when you need it

It is important to get help when you really get stuck. By getting help you will be able to show the professor that you are putting an effort into the class, avoid having gaps in your knowledge on the exam and you will be able to have a higher homework grade.

However, while it is important to get help when you get stuck it is also important to try to figure out the solution yourself beforehand. This means that you should reread the relevant chapter, look at tutorials on Youtube and look at any lecture notes that you might have first.

Prioritize what the professor gives you

If the professor gives you any material then make sure to prioritize understanding it especially if it is a study guide. This material tends to be very likely to appear on the exam.

Prepare for the class in advance

One way to make calculus much easier for yourself is to prepare for the class before taking it. By doing so you will be able to understand the lectures much more easily and you will be able to do better on the exams.

I would recommend that you prepare for the class by watching this Youtube series.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.