Aggie Basics for Freshman, Step 1

A student walks a cow at the campus dairy.

Planning Ahead

As you prepare to choose your courses for the first time, please note that many components go into developing a good first quarter schedule.

A good quarterly schedule is comprised of 15 units with a combination of major specific courses and General Education /elective courses. Every course you take at this stage in your academic career will meet some requirement such as major, General Education, college or university requirement. Remember: every unit counts, there really are no wrong courses to take!


Choose courses that interest you. We encourage you to explore different areas of interest and to choose courses representing topic areas that are of particular interest and importance to you.

We want to provide some suggestions as to the types of courses you should consider taking during your first quarter. While it’s important for you to understand all of your degree requirements, here is information on the requirements to focus on as a new student:

  • If you haven't satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR), it is very important to begin making progress towards satisfaction immediately. You may be required to take courses like UWP 7, UWP 7M, UWP 1&1A, ENL 3& 3A, NAS 5 & 5A and WLD57. If you are unable to register for the appropriate ELWR course during Pass 1, you should waitlist the course during Pass 2. If you are still unable to get a seat by the first day of instruction, be sure to make plans to complete the course in the following quarter.
  • If you have met the ELWR, consider taking other courses in composition during your first year: Comparative Literature (COM) 1, 2, 3 or 4, English (ENL) 3, Native American Studies (NAS) 5, or University Writing Program (UWP) 1.
  • As most all CA&ES majors require mathematics and/or chemistry, you will be required to take the appropriate placement exam prior to enrolling (or before instruction begins). Please make sure you enroll in the level of chemistry and mathematics that is appropriate for your placement exam scores.  
    • To assure enrollment in general chemistry, all students must earn a qualifying score from the Chemistry Placement Exam. Students who do not earn a qualifying score to remain in their class are encouraged to register in Workload Chemistry (WLD 41C) or take the ALEKS Preparatory Chemistry course in preparation to retake the  Chemistry Placement Exam .
    • The Mathematics Placement Exam determines your level of preparation for college-level math courses offered at UC Davis. All students who register in MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21 are required to take the Mathematics Placement Exam Match Placement Exam.
    CA&ES students can take the placement exams May 25-Jun 1, 2020. 
    • If you completed any Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams while in high school, check your scores to see if you receive credit toward a specific course or requirement.AP/IB exams do not count toward the General Education Requirement (GE). Please note that some UCD courses may not be taken for units if you have equivalent credit on an AP/IB exam. Review the charts below carefully.
    • The General Education (GE) courses promote the intellectual growth of all students by ensuring that they acquire a breadth of knowledge that will enlarge their perspectives beyond the focus of a major and serve them well as participants in a knowledge-based society.  Here you can learn more about theGeneral Education (GE) requirement.
      •  video- coming soon
    • Discover our Career Discovery Groups (CDG) which provide you with special classes and a mentor to introduce you to campus resources, to help you explore potential career paths, and to guide you with course selection. There are only 20 to 25 students per CDG, so you'll be part of a group with shared interests. Together, you can begin your quest for discovery from day one!