What Math Courses Are Needed in College to Be a Veterinarian?

Lower-level math courses help strengthen students' math skills for more advanced classes.
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Although a strong background in biology and chemistry is necessary to go to veterinary school, a series of math courses is also required for many programs. The right undergraduate math courses give students a firm grasp of the concepts that will help prepare them for more rigorous coursework in veterinary school as well as for their future veterinary career. Admissions exams like the Graduate Record Exam, Veterinary College Admission Test and the Medical College Admission Test call for certain math skills as well. Admission to veterinary school is very competitive, so excellent grades in math and other courses will help you increase your chances of getting in the program of your choice.

1 College Algebra and Trigonometry

The minimum requirement for many veterinary schools includes function- and equation-oriented college algebra and trigonometry. Generally, these courses are prerequisites for more advanced required courses like calculus, so take them early on to get them out of the way. Many students have already taken algebra and trigonometry by the time they start college, but if they haven't, these courses must be mastered before moving on to more advanced coursework.

2 Calculus

Calculus is the study of change, and deals with topics like limits and derivatives. Not only do admissions exams like the Veterinary College Admission Test and the Medical College Admission Test require a knowledge of math through calculus, but college-level calculus is required for admission to most veterinary schools and should be studied after algebra and trigonometry. To be prepared for college calculus, high school students should take either pre-calculus or a high school calculus course.

3 Statistics

Some veterinary schools also require a course in statistics as well, which provides a basic knowledge of the collection and interpretation of data. Because the 2015 MCAT exam will include questions of statistical content, and more and more veterinary schools are requiring statistics for admission, undergraduate programs are more strongly recommending statistics for aspiring veterinary students.

4 Prerequisites and Basic Skills

Because of the mathematical skills required in admissions tests like the GRE, MCAT and VCAT, as well as the rigorous coursework in veterinary school, a strong foundation in math is highly recommended. Additionally, students often need to take prerequisites like pre-calculus before attempting any college-level calculus course. Lower-level math courses may be quite beneficial for students weaker in certain basic skills to boost the chance of success in those more advanced courses. A strong background in these math skills may help improve performance in courses like organic chemistry and physics as well. Many undergraduate programs, upon admission, may require a math placement test to assess your skills.

Gale Marie Thompson's work has been published in "Denver Quarterly," "Los Angeles Review" and "Best New Poets 2012." Thompson holds a BA in English and creative writing from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is working on a PhD at the University of Georgia.