How many college students fail Calc 1?

How Many College Students Fail Calc 1?

College/University Percentage of Students Failing Calc 1
Harvard University 5%
University of California, Berkeley 15%
Ohio State University 30%
Arizona State University 35%
Texas A&M University 45%

How Many College Students Fail Calc 1?

Calculus is a fundamental course in most college mathematics programs. It is widely used in many disciplines, including engineering, physics, economics, and computer science. However, the course is also notorious for its difficulty, and many students struggle to pass the first calculus course in college, known as Calc 1.


What is Calc 1?

Calc 1, or Calculus 1, is the first calculus course in college. It covers topics such as limits, derivatives, integrals and their applications.

Why do so many students fail Calc 1?

Many factors contribute to the high failure rate of Calc 1. The course material is challenging and requires a good understanding of algebra and trigonometry. In addition, some students underestimate the amount of work required and do not devote enough time to studying. Others may not have received sufficient preparation in calculus in high school.

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What percentage of college students fail Calc 1?

It is difficult to determine an exact percentage, as the failure rate varies widely across colleges and universities. However, a study conducted by the Mathematical Association of America found that across the country, it is typical for 25-30% of students who take Calc 1 to fail.

Factors Contributing to the High Failure Rate

There are several factors that contribute to the high failure rate of Calc 1:

Challenging Course Material

Calc 1 is a challenging course that requires a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry. Many students struggle with the abstract concepts and may have difficulty seeing the practical applications in real life. The course is also fast-paced, covering a lot of material in a short amount of time.

Student studying for calculus

Insufficient High School Preparation

Students who did not take calculus in high school may find that they are not sufficiently prepared for the rigor of Calc 1. In addition, high school calculus courses may not cover all the topics that are taught in college-level calculus, leaving some students at a disadvantage.

Students taking calculus exam

Inadequate Study Habits

Many students do not devote enough time to studying for Calc 1. They may think that they can get by with minimal effort, or they may be too busy with other activities to dedicate sufficient time to the course. Successful completion of Calc 1 requires regular and thorough study, as well as practice with problems and exercises.

Student working on calculus homework

Ways to Increase Success in Calc 1

There are several ways that students can increase their chances of success in Calc 1:

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Get a Solid Foundation in Algebra and Trigonometry

Before taking Calc 1, make sure you have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry. Review the material and practice solving problems on a regular basis.

Take Advantage of Resources

Most colleges and universities offer resources such as tutoring and study groups for Calculus students. Take advantage of these resources to get extra help and support.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to succeed in Calc 1 is to practice as much as possible. Complete every problem in your homework assignments and work through extra problems in your textbook. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with the material.

Student practicing calculus problems


The high failure rate of Calc 1 is a well-known issue in college mathematics programs. However, by understanding the reasons for the failure rate and taking steps to increase their chances of success, students can improve their performance and achieve their academic goals.


  1. Mathematical Association of America
  2. CollegeCalc
  3. NPR

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