The Meaning of Prerequisite

Prerequisites are used at all levels of education to gauge student preparedness. Schools broadly define prerequisite as a core competency that must be demonstrated before tackling a course that requires foundational knowledge. By meeting a prerequisite for a course, you are demonstrating that, based on past academic success, you are prepared to enroll and pass, which typically builds on prior knowledge gained. These prerequisites deal with meeting prior conditions of education before taking higher levels of study.

Some translations of prerequisite are pré-requisito, requisito previo, forutsetning, forudsætning, voraussetzung, priːˈrɛkwɪzɪt, and prɪˈrɛk wə zɪt. Although the prerequisite definition and prerequisite meanings stay the same, the word can change form in different languages, like Portuguese, Spanish and the English language, including British English. Etymology can often be used to determine the meaning of words like prerequisite in many word lists. Pri- and req- and the main roots for the word that give the meaning of something prerequisite. A thesaurus can be used to find antonyms of prerequisite, but they may be hard to determine. Prerequisite can be shortened to prereq, unlike other unabridged words. Example sentences including prerequisites could be related to class scheduling issues or planning.

What is a Prerequisite?

The definition of prerequisite can be stated as a class needed to have credit for and have taken before you can take other class in its area. Prerequisites are commonly used in colleges and graduate schools as a means of measuring knowledge to determine whether a student is ready to advance to the next level. This is important for the student and the course. Enrolling in a course for which you have not met the prerequisite can set a student up for failure and hinder the academic experience for other students. Many colleges and universities also set prereqs for graduation that can include courses not related to the student’s major or minor. The idea is to provide a student with a well-rounded education.

Examples of typical classes that must be completed before graduation include writing intensive courses, physical education activities and cultural diversity electives. Synonyms for prerequisites can also be requirements or preconditions. For example, some levels of Spanish classes have prerequisites of Latin or lower level Spanish classes before you are allowed to take them. Normally, prerequisites are used in schooling through high school and college level classes. Some examples of prerequisite classes include College Algebra for higher level math classes, or AP English classes for college level English writing classes.

How to Locate Prerequisites

Prerequisites are often found next to course description in the catalog. The information also is often located on the registrar's page on college websites. Many universities are only using online course catalogs and the prereqs (if there is one) are found either before or after the course description. This information can also be learned by asking the course professor, and the administrative assistant in the department also has the information. Learning the prerequisites for an advanced degree program can be found on the website, typically under degree requirements. Professional degree programs often have brochures and viewbooks, and the prerequisites for admission are usually found in the material for prospective students.

Exceptions to Prereq Requirements

A prerequisite may say “ACCT 100 or equivalent.” For transfer or non-traditional students who feel they have already attained the depth of knowledge of accounting basics at either another institution or through professional experience, it may be worth visiting the department’s main office to discuss options. After careful review, prerequisites may be waived for students who believe they took a class elsewhere that is the course equivalency of the prerequisite. Or you may be offered an opportunity to take a prerequisite exam to test out of the course you would like to skip. The prerequisite exam meaning can vary. Often it refers to the standard Accuplacer placement exam given to incoming students or to a challenge exam available in certain subjects at some schools. If you achieve a satisfactory score, you may be exempted from taking the prerequisite you are lacking.

How Schools Define Prerequisite and Corequisite

Some courses at the college require a prerequisite to have been met before enrollment, and other courses may require a corequisite upon enrollment. Corequisites mean you must enroll in another course in the same semester. This is common in the medical/ health sciences where, for example, a student wishing to enroll in a three-credit BIO 110 must also enroll in a one-credit lab course. This information usually is found in the course catalog. A corequisite also refers to two interrelated classes that must be taken the same semester because you are unlikely to pass one without the other.

Common Prereqs at the College Level

Prerequisites are found in many subjects but most often at the advanced level. For example, advanced English literature courses may require students to have taken sophomore-level courses. Science courses are known for prerequisites because of the amount of complex information that must be satisfactorily learned before advanced study. Further, students must receive a passing grade or higher in the prerequisite course. Students who do not pass the prerequisite class may retake it in accordance with their school’s course repeat policy. American English writing classes may also require important prerequisites like grammar or language arts classes before taking higher level courses in this area.

Related Articles