7 subjects to study before going to computer science

A lot of students ask if computer science needs prior knowledge to have and the response is YES.

computer since the field or a major to respect and is not meant for everyone unless having some barriers entries. The proof of that is:

==> 9.8% of US computer science students drop this major, which is the higher drop rate among all US majors.

==> 33% of students drop in their first year.

This is not to offend you but just a reminder that you should have the basics around subjects that we will be going to talk about in this article.

So as we said we picked 7 subjects that you should study before going to computer science. Learning these subjects will be very helpful, especially in the first year when you will face a lot of math.

We’re not meaning that you should learn everything from A to Z but have some basics that we will explain in detail for each subject.

in addition, we will give you the plan of how much time to schedule this formation for each subject.

1 – Algebra

The first pillar is to revise algebra courses, especially the beginner course of prealgebra, it might be silly and stupid for you. But many high school students and even some college one struggle in the basics of algebra.

So don’t despise the basics because algebra will help you a lot in comptuer science major classes and normally is easier than other math subjects that we will take about later.

Algebra noraml is easy compared to calculus but you have to go and have a look at pre-algebra. Because many people still have issues in the basics which is not acceptable in comptuer science.

you have to go and revise these prealgebra courses to evaluate your level in math. you will find them at this link.

2 – Precalc

the first and very interesting thing, to begin with, is to close or fill the all gaps that you have from high school by studying and revising precalculus.

precalculus is divided into 8 sections, these all sections have to be well digested because if you don’t. As result, things will become hard when you will go to college in the computer science field.


The first thing in calculus that you should revise is trigonometry you have to make sure that you use and know how to deal with:

  • know the trigonometrical value like what is Cosine, sine, and tangent of π/6 and π/3 and π/4

  • how to draw represent a cos and sin function in a circle also learn how to deal with angles.

  •  know how to reflect cos and sin function on the circle and do operations on them.

  • know what is the law of sin, cosine, and tang

  • know what is the law of sin, cosine, and tang

  • making an operation to cosine and sine  

  • know how to transform cos to sin applying using periodic angles

  • reducing sin or cosine operations for example sin(7π/12 ) without a calculator.

Complex numbers

the second thing to learn, is you have to test yourself if you are good or not in complex numbers. So you have to be able to:

  • know how to represent complex numbers complex planes

  • determine the distance and midpoint of equal numbers

  • know how to determine the conjugate of a complex number and how to divide it

  • know how to determine an argument and modulus of a complex number

  • know how to multiply complex numbers graphically

  • multiplying and dividing complex numbers in polar form

  • the fundamental theory of algebra

  • converting complex numbers from polar to rectangle form

  • know how to factorize and add two complex numbers

the same thing will be for the following precalc subjects.

Rational functions

  • know what are rational expressions

  • graphing rational functions

  • multiplying and dividing rational expressions

  • determine the discontinuity of rational functions

  • studying the behavior of rational expressions

  • adding and subtracting rational expressions

Conic sections

  • what are conic sections

  • center and radii or ellipse

  • foci of an ellipse

  • what are hyperbola foci of hyperbola

  • hyperbola not centered at the origin


  • understand the vector components

  • Magnitude of vectors

  • Scalar multiplication

  • know how to add vectors and subtract them

  • determine the direction of the vector and its magnitude

  • know how to add a vector to the magnitude


  • knowing what are matrices

  • Using matrices to represent data

  • know how to Multiply matrices by scalars

  • Using matrices to manipulate data

  • Using matrices to manipulate data

  • Solving linear systems with matrices

  • Using matrices to transform the plane

  •  Transforming 3D and 4D vectors with matrices

  •  Multiplying matrices by matrices

  • Representing systems of equations with matrices

  • Introduction to matrix inverses

  • Finding inverses of 2x2 matrices


  • know what is Geometric series
  • Geometric series (with summation notation): 
  • The binomial theorem

Limits and continuity

  • Defining limits and using limit notation
  • Estimating limit values from graphs
  • Estimating limit values from tables
  • knowing the algebraic properties of limits
    Determining limits using the squeeze theorem
  • Exploring types of discontinuities
  • Defining continuity at a point
  • Confirming continuity over an interval

we dug into details in the precalc section to inform you that these lectures or principals are very important to have. Normally you should already study them know all about the basics that we talked about.

But there is not a problem to go back and revise them again in this link you will find the all precalc subjects that we talked about.

3 – calculus 1

The second thing is to study the basics of calc 1, studying calc 1 requires having a solid base in precalc, especially the subjects we listed in our article above. So go and check them again if you have any doubts.

the three important subjects to know in this field are:

  • limits
  • derivative
  • integrals

we’re going to list to you what you should study in calculus before going to computer science classes in theses all three 3 aspects we mentioned.


in limits, you must know how to calculate a limit of functions also be able to study the function. To do that you have to memorize some limits equation that will need in exams.

you can find them at this link.


derivate is very important in calculus, is the principal thing to have before going to comper science classes to be able to calculate a derivative of any function. Also, be able to study graphical functions by doing derivatives.

you could find the all derivative classes in this link.


the last important thing which is a result of limits and derivatives is calculus. If you don’t have solid basics in limits and derivatives go back and check them.

Because in integrals you will use all the acquired knowledge in limits and derivatives to solve integrals issues.

integrals are based a lot on a derivative you have to be able to find integrals of functions that relate to derivatives. So you must have a fixed and the basics knowledge about this topic.

you could find the integrals lectures at this link.

calculus is one of the very, very interesting subjects that you should study before joining a computer science major.

4 -Discrete math

having some basics of discrete math is important because discrete math tends to be easier than calculus in the computer science field. Also, most students validate this model.

it is not calculus where students are stuck especially in the first year because you will probably study:

  • calculus 1
  • calculus 2
  • calculus 3

so is better to have precedent information about discrete math before joining a computer science class. You could find this entire course at this link.

5 – learn C

people say you have to learn C++ but they forget that many people don’t know how to program in c.

C is the first language that computer science should study and learn well, if you learn c yoiu won’t struggle anymore in programming. We will recommend learning C from scratch to the finish.

In this course, you will learn data structure which is very important in comptuer science. So go and study the full course until the end.

you could find this course in this video.

6 – electronics

The important thing that most students don’t know about in comptuer science is you will study electronics. Thus you have to prepare yourself for that. For this reason, we will recommend learning electronics basics.

in the electronics basic course you should learn:

  • know what is electricity
  • types of current DC and AC
  • Cosine of φ
  • know-how measure electricity
  • know how to read resistance
  • learn how to use an oscilloscope
  • connecting resistance in parallels or series
  • voltage divider
  • Kirchhoff law
  • capacitors and it types
  • coils
  • switches and relays
  • diodes and transistors
  • make logic circuits by transistors
  • work with amplifiers

We will recommend checking this paid course, unfortunately, there is not enough free information on the internet.

electronics is one of the important subjects to study before going to computer science it will be useful before going to computer science classes, especially if think to specialize in embedded systems.

you could read this article: Embedded systems without a Master(9 resources)

7 – statistics and probability

Statistics are also important to learn in computer science, having some basics about statistics and probability will be helpful. If you were struggling in probability and combinatory you could go back and check them again from this link.

So having the preference to study the statistics and probability subjects will be very helpful. You could find the link of probability and statistics courses that you should prepare for computer science in this link.

you could find the statistic and probability course at this link.


If you prepare well and study these 7 principal subjects, that will create a big difference for you as a freshmen computer science course. In other words, you will be able to catch up and absorb the hard mathematics topics like calculus comfortably.

But you have to understand that this preparation takes time, and studying these subjects is time-consuming. For this reason, we made a table to show the amount of time needed for each subject alone.

You can find the table below.


Time nedeed 


1 month 


3 months 

Calc 1

3 months

Discrete math 

1 mounth

learn c

3 months 


3 months

probability and statistics 

1 month

theses time that we put is for 4 hours daily of studies if you study more you can shorten the delay.

So as we can see it take a time to prepare for a comptuer science field, in other words, it might take you 1 year. But it will make a huge difference when you join a computer science class.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.