Thinking & Learning

What to Expect from High School Math

The exact sequence of high school math depends on your child’s school, but eventually they should engage with a few core areas of math, like algebra and geometry. Here’s what to expect.

Your high schooler might follow a typical course sequence; for example, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-calculus. Or they might take a different sequence of courses. (Here’s a helpful explainer of different high school math courses.) But regardless, many of these will be required for graduation, and they’ll eventually cover the same important stuff. Students with a particular interest in math should also have opportunities to go even further.

Here’s what you want to make sure your kid is getting out of high school math:


They’ll cover the core areas of mathematics. This should include coursework in algebra, functions, geometry, modeling, and statistics and probability.


They’ll apply math to real-world scenarios. Whether or not they go on to study advanced math in college, they’ll need to know how to calculate a sale price, tip in a restaurant, and manage their money. They should be learning how to apply mathematical concepts and formulas to situations they’ll encounter in real life. In science classes like physics and chemistry, they’ll also need to apply more sophisticated math skills.


They might consider taking an advanced level math course. If your kid is interested in pursuing a field where advanced mathematical coursework is required—including many jobs in construction and architecture, technology, or business—it’s a good idea to consider course options like calculus, statistics, or other advanced math. By getting some of this coursework under their belt in high school, they might even fulfill some college course requirements or job training prerequisites before they graduate. Not every high school offers the same advanced courses, so if your high schooler wants to take something that isn’t offered—or they find themselves running out of advanced coursework—they might want to ask their guidance counselor about other options, like courses at local community colleges (sometimes called "dual enrollment" classes).