Choosing your first semester courses


Please use these guidelines when filling out your Planned Class Schedule.

For the Fall semester, first-year students are expected to enroll in the following courses:

  • Chemistry 1A+1AL (lab) or Chemistry 4A* – 4 units
  • Math (1A, 1B, 53, or 54,** depending on your AP scores and/or college work) – 4 units
  • A Reading and Composition course (or College Writing R1A; see below) – 4 units
  • Freshman Seminar or other 1 unit course

*If you took AP Chemistry in high school and scored 4 or 5 on the AP Chem exam, take Chem 4A. If you did not take AP Chemistry or an equivalent course (e.g., IB Chem HL or general chem​istry​ at community college)​, take Chem 1A+1AL.

**About your first math class We do not recommend Math 53 or Math 54 as your first math class at Berkeley, even if you received a score of 5 on the BC Calc exam or you took single-variable calculus courses at a community college.  Berkeley Math is very rigorous and theoretical, and many students who choose to skip Math 1B will suffer in Math 53 or 54.  Chemical Engineering majors, in particular, shouldn’t skip ahead. 

Recommended Units

Total recommended units for your first semester: 13

If you want to take additional courses, consider choosing a breadth elective from one of these lists:

During the first four weeks of the semester, you may petition to drop a class if you find your load is too heavy (minimum required is 13 units). You must obtain staff adviser approval to drop a class before you stop attending.

Advanced Placement, Transfer, and Other Exam Credit

Students who have AP, transfer, or other exam credit may be eligible to take more advanced courses. See our Exam Credit Info page for information about units received and possible requirements satisfied. If you don't know your exam score, estimate it and select your classes accordingly. If your estimated score is incorrect, you may need to add or drop a class later, with your adviser's approval.

If you have transfer credit from a community college or another university and you want to know if it will satisfy a course requirement:

  • For California Community College (CCC) courses, use to check equivalence to Berkeley courses
  • For non-CCC courses, contact your adviser

University of California Entry Level Writing Requirement & Reading and Composition Requirement

IF you have fulfilled the Entry Level Writing Requirement with a sufficient test score, with transfer credit, or by passing the Analytical Writing Placement Exam, then you should enroll in English R1A or an equivalent course (unless you have sufficient AP/IB/A-Level/exams or transfer credit to satisfy the Reading and Composition requirement; see previous section).

IF you took the Analytical Writing Placement Exam but didn't pass, then you should enroll in College Writing R1A – Accelerated Reading and Composition (6 units) in the Fall.  This course satisfies both the Entry Level Writing Requirement and the first semester of the Reading and Composition requirement.

IF you have not fulfilled the Entry Level Writing Requirement and haven't taken the Analytical Writing Placement Exam by the beginning of the Fall semester, you must take the Placement Exam, conducted on the Berkeley campus, in September, date and time TBA. Contact the College Writing Program for more information. Results will be posted 3-4 weeks after the exam date. You'll need to delay taking the appropriate composition course(s) until Spring. Please be aware that the Analytical Writing Placement Exam may be taken only once.

Your Major Program

Please use the following pages to see how your Fall courses fit into your major's curriculum and requirements:

Other important course planning tools include UC Berkeley's Schedule of Classes, the Schedule Planner in CalCentral on your My Academics page, and the Berkeley Academic Guide. The latter includes course descriptions for all departments and information on University requirements and academic policies.

Questions or concerns about your first semester schedule?

Make sure you submit your Planned Class Schedule and New Freshman Form by June 24. Remember, your schedule is a "working draft" which you can finalize after participating in a virtual advising session with your adviser, July 2-6 (virtual advising schedule and RSVP available in Golden Bear Advising online orientation).