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

This post will show you how hard linear algebra is and what you can do to make it easier.

So, is linear algebra a hard class? Compared to other math classes, linear algebra is generally considered as being one of the easier college-level math classes.

How difficult linear algebra will be for you will largely depend on a number of factors and there are a number of things that you can do to make it easier.

How hard linear algebra will be

It depends on what you already know

The difficulty of the class for you will largely depend on what you already know and your level of mathematical maturity.

If you have already done well at the other lower-division math classes such as single and multivariable calculus, discrete math or an intro to proofs class then you should also do well in linear algebra.

If you have already taken multivariable calculus then you will be in a particularly good position since there is some overlap in the early stages of the two classes with respect to vectors.

If you have not taken many math classes already then you will likely find linear algebra to be a more challenging class. However, it will still be possible to do well in the class provided you are willing to study more.

It will depend a lot on the professor

The difficulty of any college class will depend a lot on the professor and these is especially the case with linear algebra. The professor will normally dictate the pace of the class, what gets covered, what goes on exams and what gets covered in the homework. Some professors will tell you to know everything from the book while others will give you a study guide.

In addition to this, most students will not have had much exposure to proofs before taking linear algebra. However, some professors will ask for proofs in the exams. You’ll likely find that a proof-based linear algebra class would be a lot more difficult.

Before taking the class it would be worthwhile to look on ratemyprofesors.com to see what other students have said about the professors in the past. Make sure to schedule your classes early since the highly rated professors will have their classes fill up quickly.

It will also depend on the college

Another thing to consider is the college. Linear algebra taught at colleges with a low acceptance rate tend to get through a lot of material quickly. At these colleges, you will likely find the class to be more challenging and you’ll have to spend more time studying.

Whereas, linear algebra taught at less selective colleges will not tend to get through as much material and it is the later material that can get more difficult. So, you will likely have an easier time at a less selective college.

With that being said, that is not a rule. Sometimes, linear algebra at less selective colleges can be very difficult mainly depending on the professor teaching it.

You’ll need to study outside of class

While linear algebra is considered as an easier math class you will still need to study a reasonable amount outside of class.

As with most math classes, there tends to be a lot of homework that gets set in linear algebra. There also tends to be lots of different possible ways to ask the same question so you will want to have seen as many variations of the problems as possible before going into the exams.

It depends on which department you take it with

Another thing to consider is the department that you take it in. If you take it with the computer science department then it will likely be much more computational in nature.

Whereas, if you take linear algebra within the math department then it will make it more likely that it will be slightly more abstract and you might find that they ask more proofs on the exams.

Things you can do to make linear algebra easier

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

Plan out the semester as soon as you can

It would be helpful to plan the semester out as soon as you get the syllabus for each class. By doing so you will be able to spot potentially difficult weeks in advance, you’ll avoid missing out on exams and homework and you will know when you need to start studying more for exams.

Make sure to do well on the homework

In linear algebra and most other math classes there tends to be a reasonably high weighting on the homework. However, many students do not take it so seriously. This is a big mistake. By making sure to do well on the homework you will be able to bump your grade up, make up for poor exams and you will be able to do better on the exams.

Read the textbook before jumping to the problems

Often, students will jump straight to the homework problems before reading the chapter from the book. The problem with doing this is that the professor might have skipped on parts of the book and the questions will be based on what is in the book.

By reading the relevant chapter before doing the homework you will be able to reinforce what you learned in class, you’ll have a more intuitive understanding and you will find it easier to solve the questions.

Get assistance when you need it

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

With that being said, it is also important to try to find the solution yourself beforehand. Otherwise, the professor will likely not be pleased and you will still struggle to understand what the professor is explaining to you.

Prioritize what the professor gives you

You’ll often find that the material given to you by the professor will be the most likely to be on the exam. Before taking the exam make sure to prioritize any notes given to you by the professor especially if the professor gives you a study guide.

Prepare for the class in advance

If you are concerned that linear algebra will be difficult then one option you have is to prepare for the class in advance. This will help you to understand the material much more easily when you take the class and it will help you to get a higher grade.

You can prepare for the class by watching a linear algebra playlist on Youtube or you could read a self-study book. I would highly recommend this book on Amazon if you want to self study the class it’s also good as a second book for the class anyway.


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.