How to Avoid Remedial Courses

Remedial courses equip students with necessary skills that weren’t successfully picked up in high school but they don’t count towards college credit.  

overhead shot of two students using laptops and tablets to study for remedial courses in college

Remedial courses are college classes that equip college students with necessary skills that weren’t successfully picked up during high school in order to help them succeed at the college level as well as in their future careers. Many colleges offer placement tests or require minimum scores on the English and math sections of the ACT/SAT to determine whether or not a student needs to be placed in a remedial course.

What’s the problem with remedial courses?

Sometimes remedial education is necessary to help students catch up and succeed at the college level, and that’s completely okay! The downside is that remedial courses usually do not count as college credit, so students who have to take these courses end up spending more money and time than they would have otherwise.

Here’s how you can avoid having to take remedial courses in college and how to make the best of it if you do need to take a remedial course.


The simplest way to avoid having to take remedial courses when you start college is to learn and master the basics in high school. Retaining the information that gets reviewed in basic algebra and geometry is essential in being able to correctly work out and answer those questions on the ACT/SAT. Plus, it gives you a solid foundation for more advanced college classes that will require you to build on what you already know. 


If you didn’t catch the information the first time around in high school, you can make up for it by diligently studying for the ACT/SAT and putting special emphasis on the areas where you are weakest. Tons of great ACT/SAT study guides are readily available, as are various books and test prep courses that outline proper studying and test-taking techniques. Spending extra time getting ready for these placement tests can help you avoid wasting time and money in remedial college courses. 


There are several colleges that offer programs like Statway and Quantway. These programs are designed to help remedial education students improve their performance within the course.

College is already a costly experience, so take advantage of the many resources out there that can help you start on the right foot in college and avoid paying for remedial education. 

“By taking the time to work a timed practice test, students can train themselves to be more efficient with timing and also develop and streamline strategies for tackling the various types of passages. The more accustomed to actual ACT test-taking conditions, the better.” -Dr. Robert Estes, ACT Science Review Instructor at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM)


Rebecca Bloodworth, Youth Program Manager at AUM’s Office of Continuing Education, offered these helpful tips for scoring well on the ACT/SAT so you can avoid having to take remedial courses in college.   

Use Your Time Wisely on Math 

  • Work out the problem before looking at the answer choices. When you’re done, choose the answer choice that matches your answer. If none match, it’s time to redo the problem.
  • Don’t rely on your calculator too much. Some problems are best worked out manually. Some don’t even require any calculations!
  • ACT/SAT math questions tend to focus much more on reasoning than on calculation. If you find yourself spending a lot of time doing extremely complicated calculations, it’s a good indicator that you’re on the wrong track.

Find the Right Answers on English 

  • Consider the writing style used for each section. The correct answer choice will usually be the one that works best with the writing style used.
  • When asked a question about something that is underlined, consider how the underlined portion fits with the rest of the section.
  • Reread the underlined portion with your answer choice to be sure it is correct.


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