Bates College Mathematics Department:
Frequently Asked Questions

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Concerning Calculus       AP/IB/A-level Addendum       Matters for Math Majors       Learning LaTeX       Extra! Extra!

Concerning Calculus

What's the difference between Math 105 and Math 106?
Math 105 covers techniques of differentiation (such as the product and chain rules), applications of the derivative (such as finding maxima and minima and doing optimizations), and an introduction to the definite integral. Math 106 covers techniques and applications of integration, infinite series (including Taylor series), and differential equations.

Do I have to take BOTH Math 105 and Math 106 to get a Bachelor of Science degree?
No. If you pass 106 but have not taken 105, that will satisfy the calculus portion of the B.S. requirement (whether or not you have AP credit for 105).

If I already know the material for 105 and 106, can I skip them both and still get a B.S. degree?
Yes, IF you have earned credit for 105 and 106 via non-Bates course credits such as the AP Exam or transfer credit, OR if you pass Math 206, multivariable calculus.

If I took calculus before but didn't take the AP exam (or did poorly on it), do I need to start in Math 105?
Not necessarily. You should take our placement exam, which is an anonymous and non-binding test. As soon as you complete it, you will receive online placement advice. Please note that unlike the AP exam, passing this placement exam does NOT give you any official Bates course credit. The exam is available at

Do I have to take calculus if I'm pre-med?
Requirements vary among medical schools. Some med schools require one semester of calculus, others require two semesters, and some want a year of college math. Most accept AP credit for calculus, so if you already have that, there's no need to retake the same course here; instead, you might want to enroll in a more advanced math course. A list of what math courses each medical school requires is available here. You may also wish to talk to Medical Studies advisers at the Bates Career Development Center.

Can I take calculus at another college or summer program and transfer the credit to Bates?
Possibly. The Chair of the Mathematics Department must approve any such transfer credit, so you need to provide him or her with a detailed syllabus about the course. Unless you have already taken this non-Bates course, you should seek approval BEFORE you enroll. You should also read the Bates Transfer Credit Policy.

If I'm unsure whether to take 105 or 106, what should I do?
Contact Eric Towne ( for placement advice. And remember that it's easier to start in 106 and switch to 105 than to do the opposite.

Are both Math 105 and Math 106 offered every semester?

Where can I find old exams and other practice materials?
Eric Towne maintains a page with these math resources and many more:

What is the derivative of xx?
xx(ln x + 1)

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AP/IB/A-level Addendum

What AP scores will give me credit for calculus at Bates?

  • A 4 or 5 on the BC Calculus exam earns credit for Math 105 and 106.
  • A 4 or 5 on the AB Calculus exam earns credit for Math 105, as does a 4 or 5 on the AB portion of the BC exam.
  • A 4 or 5 on the Statistics exam earns credit for Math 101.
  • You may also wish to consult the Bates AP Departmental Equivalencies chart, which you can find here.

If Bates has granted me AP credit for both Math 105 and Math 106, can I still take one or both of those courses here to earn more graduation credit(s)?

If I got a 4 or 5 on the AB exam and then a 4 or 5 on the BC exam, how many Bates credits will I be granted for these scores?
Two, one for Math 105 and one for Math 106. No double-counting is allowed.

If I got a 4 or 5 on the AB exam and then a 3 or lower on the BC exam with a 4 or 5 on its AB subscore portion, how many Bates credits will I be granted for these scores?
One, for Math 105. No double-counting is allowed.

What credits will I receive for IB (International Baccalaureate) math?
Each higher level (HL) math course earns 1 credit for a score of 5 and 2 credits for a score of 6 or 7. A subsidiary level (SL) math course earns 1 credit for a score of 6 or 7. The first IB math credit counts for Math 105, the second for Math 106, and any additional credit is considered as an unspecified credit. No double-counting with AP Calculus or A-level math is allowed.

What credits will I receive for A-level math?
A grade of A in A-level mathematics earns credit for Math 105 and Math 106. A grade of B or C in A-level mathematics earns credit for Math 105. No credit is earned for O-level or AS-level mathematics. No double-counting with AP or IB is allowed. For further information, see .

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Matters for Math Majors

How do I decide between taking a Senior Seminar and writing a Senior Thesis?
The mathematics major at Bates requires a capstone experience, either the Senior Seminar or the Senior Thesis. The Senior Seminar lasts one semester, and is an intense experience involving group work and several presentations in a small classroom environment. The Senior Thesis can last one semester or a full year, and requires you to work both independently and one-on-one with a faculty advisor. To help you decide which format will be best for you, the Department holds an information session during the winter semester. This info session gives faculty and seniors an opportunity to talk about their experiences with the Seminar or Thesis, and gives juniors a chance to ask questions; sophomores and first-year students are of course welcome to participate in this meeting. Faculty attend the first part of the meeting, while the second part is reserved just for students --- current and rising seniors, and interested sophomores and first-years too.

I'm a junior who wants to write a Senior Thesis. How should I begin?
You can start by talking with some of the mathematics faculty - they are happy to suggest interesting topics. If you already have ideas of what you'd like to work on, that's fine too, but you are strongly encourged to run your ideas by some of the faculty. The Math Department requires its majors to submit a thesis proposal by the last day of winter semester classes of the junior year. The proposal is to be completed using our downloadable LaTeX thesis proposal template. In particular, this document requires a carefully written 1--3 page narrative describing what you plan to work on, and a list of references you have considered. You will email your completed proposal to Hathorn Hall's Academic Administrative Assistant, Georgette Dumais (, as a PDF document. Complete details and instructions are in the LaTeX proposal template and on the Department Policy pages. Here's a sample proposal, as Riemann would've submitted it.

What if I plan to spend my junior year abroad?
We recommend you plan ahead as much as possible, so you can fulfill all your requirements in time for graduation. Talk with one or more members of the Mathematics Faculty, as well as the Off-Campus Studies Office. We also suggest you go in your sophomore year to the sessions listed in the previous question, to help you decide about your senior capstone experience while you are away. A junior who is abroad winter semester of the junior year and who wishes to submit a thesis is still expected to submit a proposal by the last day of class of the Bates winter semester; please see the Department Policy pages for details.

Where can I go to present my research, and how can I learn more about the mathematics community?
Go to a conference! There are a lot of possibilities, and we can often find ways to pay for students to attend if you will be making a presentation. Consider the following possibilities:

How can I find a summer job or research experience involving math?
There are a lot of possibilities, and Math Department faculty get regular emails and flyers about opportunities for undergraduates. We forward some of the emails to mathstu and post others. You can also let us know you are interested, and tell us what kinds of programs you particularly hope to engage in. (Undergraduate research into number theory? An interdisciplinary team project in biomathematics? Etc.) Here are some websites you may wish to check into on your own:

What can I do with my math major?
Anything you want! Well, almost. Come talk to math faculty members about it. For some quick insight into what several other people have done, check out the Math Association of America's Career Profiles, a collection of short essays by former math students about their chosen careers.

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Learning LaTeX

I've been hearing about LaTeX. What is it?
LaTeX is a system for high-quality technical typesetting. Most mathematicians and many other scientists use LaTeX to typeset papers, exams, books, and more. The LaTeX Project Home Page has additional information.

LaTeX is the greatest! How can I get it on my own computer?
Our computers in Hathorn 207 have PCTeX installed on them. PCTeX is a one-installation-does-it-all program, but it has a fee. If you want free LaTeX for your PC, go to and choose to install their basic system. This will likely be plenty for all you ever want to do with LaTeX; you will save yourself time by not choosing the complete system. After getting MiKTeX, you will probably want a graphical shell to help you interact with it. One option is TeXShell. It is pretty easy to install, and you can set up your own buttons to make your life easy and, among other things, create PDF files, so all your non-mathematically-set-up friends can still read the beautifully typeset math files you send them. To get similar free software for your Mac, click here for a beginner's guide then download TeXShop here.

I'm trying to learn LaTeX. Help!
LaTeX is one of those things that seems a lot easier if someone who knows it can help you get started. Eric Towne offers a workshop which provides an introduction to LaTeX just after the start of each semester; contact him if you'd like to participate. Our Bates College LaTeX Manual contains a set of lessons and exercises to help you learn some of the essentials. Try online help (Google searches, etc.), other math folks, and/or the LaTeX manuals and other documentation on the shelves of Hathorn 207 for additional questions.

I'm writing my thesis - MORE help, please!
We have a set of sample thesis files available online. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and you'll be done with your thesis!

How do I pronounce "LaTeX"?
This question is more controversial than you might think. We found a whole web page of TeX Frequently Asked Questions. Their comments are:

  1. "Lamport [LaTeX's creator] never recommended how one should pronounce LaTeX, but a lot of people pronounce it 'Lay TeX' or perhaps 'Lah TeX' (with TeX pronounced as the program itself; see the rules for TeX). It is definitely not to be pronounced in the same way as the rubber-tree gum."
  2. (From The Rules for TeX): "The 'X' stands for the lower case Greek letter Chi (the upper-case Greek letter doesn't look in the least like a letter "X") and is pronounced by English-speakers either a bit like the 'ch' in the Scots word 'loch' ([x] in the IPA) or like 'k'. It definitely is not pronounced 'ks'."

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Extra! Extra!

I'm about to present a poster (in class / at a conference / at a Bates poster session). How can I best show all the math I've worked on?
The following websites should help you get started.

What math courses fulfill the Quantitative Requirement?
From the current Bates catalog:
"Any course, whether in math or some other department, that is designated [Q] in the course catalog fulfills this requirement. A non-Bates course may be applied toward this requirement if it is directly equivalent to a Bates course that satisfies the requirement."

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The above is subject to change. Please send any comments or questions to the FAQ Webmaster. Page last updated June 22, 2011.