In mathematics education, precalculus is a course with college-level algebra and trigonometry that is designed to prepare students for the study of calculus. Schools often distinguish between algebra and trigonometry as two separate parts of the coursework.
Precalculus prepares students for calculus somewhat differently from the way that pre-algebra prepares students for algebra. While pre-algebra often has extensive coverage of basic algebraic concepts, precalculus courses might see only small amounts of calculus concepts, if at all, and often involves covering algebraic topics that might not have been given attention in earlier algebra courses. Some precalculus courses might differ with others in terms of content. For example, an honors-level course might spend more time on conic sections, Euclidean vectors, and other topics needed for calculus, used in fields such as medicine or engineering. A college preparatory class might focus on topics used in business-related careers, such as matrices, or power functions.