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Math Skills

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A need for Math Skills- article

Math isn’t like riding a bike. Just because you successfully completed it in high school doesn’t mean you will automatically do well in university. Maybe you have been away from it for too long, or maybe your high school studies simply did not prepare you to do well in university math no matter which high school math course you completed.

That’s where Math Skills come in.

“If you have been away from math for too long, you don’t remember how it’s done. You need a reminder,” says Michelle Davidson, associate head undergraduate, Department of Mathematics, U of M.

She also adds that if you never thought you would need to study math in university, you may have taken consumer or applied math and now you need a pre requirement course for calculus. But even if you did well in high school math, it may not mean you are automatically ready to do well in university math.

Your math skills may be weak
“There is an issue with the transition from high school to university,” says Davidson. “Students come with weak algebra skills. Students with very good high school marks in pre-calculus are not successful in calculus courses. You may not realize your math skills are weak.”

Extended Education identified the gap between high school and university math studies, understanding the transition can be challenging, so they developed Math Skills, a Prep Studies program to refresh or add to our math skills.

Math Skills includes two courses: MSKL 0050 – Basic Skills in Mathematics, and MSKL 0100 – Mathematical Skills.

Math Skills – MSKL 0100
Students going into first-year university math course numbered 1200 or higher, including 1500- basic, 1510- for engineers, 1520- for management and social sciences, 1230- for math sciences, and more can benefit from Math Skills 0100.

“Math Skills 0100 makes students calculus-ready,” says Davidson. “Any STEM subject needs math. All sciences, engineering need calculus. Everybody should take calculus. Calculus is the study of how things change over time. If you are concerned about your skills being up-to-speed, if you have been away from math for a long time, if you are coming to university without a pre-calculus credit or with consumer or applied math, if you want the skills needed for calculus, this course is for you.”

Basic Skills in Mathematics – MSKL 0050
Students going into math courses numbered under 1200, including 1010, 1020- math and art, and 1080, 1090- mathematics of reasoning, for teaching, can tune-up their math skills with Basic Skills in Mathematics 0050.

Basic Skills in Mathematics 0050 is also a tool to prepare for Math Skills 0100, if needed.

Diagnostic Test
Extended Education offers a free math skills diagnostic test. If a student feels they have a mastery of the material covered in the test, they are ready for Math Skills 0100. If not, they should prepare for Math Skills 0100 with Basic Skills in Mathematics 0050.

Of course, to ensure their most effective course planning, students should consult with their academic advisor.

When Davidson recently spoke to a group of middle school girls, she admitted she didn’t really like calculus in her first year of university. “It wasn’t fun. But then I started learning how things work, and I realized this is the coolest stuff. Math is for everyone. Behind the curtain, it’s always math. It’s not just what works, but how.”

She continues to share her enthusiasm for math with her students.

Assess your math skills

Take a free assessment test and determine which course is for you. If you already have a UM Learn account,  under Self Registration select Extended Education Math Skills Diagnostic Test. If you do not have a UM Learn account, you may request a copy of the diagnostic test by emailing

Following completion of the test, if you feel you have mastery of the material covered, you are ready for Math Skills 0100. Otherwise, you should prepare with Basic Skills in Mathematics 0050 first.

Consult your student advisor
Always consult your student advisor to ensure you get the right advice for your personal situation.

Math Skills courses are offered every term: Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer. The passing grade is a minimum of C.

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