Seattle’s Jesuit College Prep School Since 1891


Department Mission Statement

The Math Department at Seattle Prep strives to provide a high quality education in secondary mathematics, where students discover, develop, and apply their talents to the fullest. Our students are consistently encouraged to seek a conceptual understanding of mathematics and develop their problem-solving and reasoning skills as well as their ability to work cooperatively, think critically, and communicate precisely (in oral, written, and symbolic terms).

To facilitate this growth we employ a variety of teaching methods that aim to stimulate curiosity, encourage persistence, and incorporate technology use while reinforcing mathematics fundamentals needed for future study. Recognizing that each student learns differently, department members provide opportunities that address the diversity of learning styles with care and compassion. We believe in challenging students, both mathematically and personally, so that they will strive for excellence throughout their lives. Students should leave their classes with a lifelong appreciation of mathematics both in itself and in its real-world connections.

Click here for a course flowchart for the math department.

Freshman Math Placements

Our Goals

The goal of the Seattle Prep Math Department is to place students in the most appropriately challenging mathematics courses to ensure success.

While many 8th graders are currently taking an Algebra or Geometry course, some of these classes do not adequately match our syllabus since their curriculum and course progression is different from ours. For that reason, a student’s placement in his/her present school does not necessarily translate to the same class placement at Seattle Prep. We understand that we are assessing students seven months into the school year and are aware that students will cover up to three months more material after the placement exam. This is factored into our decision. We do not offer re-tests on our placement tests later in the school year or after additional summer work.

Upper level courses in mathematics - Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus on either regular or Honors levels (as well as the SATs) - all demand excellent algebraic skills. For this reason, we are very conscious to ensure that all students get that preparation and not suffer from gaps in their background or insufficient depth of knowledge.

Our Process

Incoming freshmen take a general algebra placement test in March. Based on their test scores, their middle school teacher recommendations, and their standardized test scores, they are placed into either Intermediate Algebra, Geometry, or Honors Geometry. Students who took Geometry as 8th graders (or 7th graders) are invited to take a Geometry challenge test on the same day as the general algebra test is offered. Those who pass the test are considered for placement into Algebra 2/Trigonometry or Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry.

Our Placements

  • Intermediate Algebra: Students placed into Intermediate Algebra will experience an in-depth Algebra course followed by the option in their sophomore year to take Geometry or Honors Geometry depending upon their performance as freshmen. Students who take Intermediate Algebra as freshmen have the possibility of taking Calculus or AP Calculus AB as seniors if they do well in our courses and do summer work between junior and senior year. Placement in Intermediate Algebra does not ultimately limit a student’s options.
  • Geometry: Students who have shown a near complete understanding of the topics in our Intermediate Algebra course with a few gaps will be placed in Geometry. Students may also be placed in Geometry if they have taken Geometry but still have gaps in their Geometry understanding. Students will then take either Algebra 2, Algebra 2/Trigonometry, or Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry as sophomores.
  • Honors Geometry: Students who demonstrate very strong algebraic knowledge are placed in Honors Geometry. These students will take Algebra 2/Trigonometry or Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry as sophomores.
  • Algebra 2/Trigonometry: Students who have shown strong knowledge of Geometry but need more depth in their algebraic knowledge will be placed in Algebra 2/Trigonometry as freshmen. These students may be prepared for Precalculus their sophomore year.
  • Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry: Students who show exceptional depth of knowledge in both Algebra and Geometry may be placed into Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry as freshmen. These students could take Precalculus or Honors Precalculus as sophomores.

Sophomore, Junior & Senior Math Placements

Our Goal

The goal of the Seattle Prep Math Department is to place students in the most appropriately challenging mathematics courses to ensure success. 

Our Process

Teacher Recommendation: The teacher recommendation is the crucial element for course placements each year and decisions are made on an individual basis.  In the winter of each school year, math teachers make their recommendations for each continuing student for the next appropriate math class based on the student’s performance in class. We recognize that placement decisions happen in the middle of the school year when students still have several months of study remaining in their current course. This is factored into our decision.

Honors/AP Calculus Placement: The Math Department does not require an application to for Honors/AP placement.  Instead, students need to earn a qualifying grade in their current course and must have the recommendation of their teacher. In order to be considered for an Honors or AP Calculus class, students must have a qualifying grade, defined as:

  • An overall grade of B+ or above in an Honors course.
  • An overall grade of A in a regular level course.

Even with a qualifying grade, teachers may not recommend an Honors or AP placement based on their knowledge of an individual student’s skills and strengths.

Jumping Ahead: Juniors in Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry or Precalculus who wish to be considered for a course higher than their normal path would indicate may be approved to take a summer course and a proficiency exam to be placed into Calculus or AP Calculus AB.

AP Statistics Placement: Any student who has studied Algebra 2/Trigonometry or beyond may take AP Statistics during senior year.

Communication: Recommendations are sent to each student and to his/her parents.  In exceptional cases a student may be granted the opportunity to move to a class other than the one recommended by their teacher. An appeals process is in place for those who wish to be considered for a different class than what was recommended. 

Meet the department chair

Dr. Márta Pásztor

I feel at home on two continents, Europe and North America. I am an ethnic Hungarian from Slovakia (part of the former Czechoslovakia until 1993). I graduated from Karlova Univerzita (The Charles University) in Prague, Czech Republic with a degree in teaching high school mathematics and physics, and later received my Doctor of Natural Sciences degree from the same university. I taught math and physics in the Hungarian college preparatory high school Vámbéry Ármin Gimnázium in Dunajská Streda, Slovakia for 18 years. I joined the Mathematics Department of Seattle Preparatory School in 1997. Currently, I teach AP Calculus AB and Precalculus, and chair the Math Department for the second time. I believe each of my students can be successful in math. I set clear expectations for them, encourage them to ask questions, try again if they make mistakes while guiding and helping them along the way. I moved to the U.S. in 1996 as a result of marrying my husband, Steve, whom I met while he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in my country. My son, Dávid and his wife, Jolene live in California. I am passionate about teaching and learning; I love reading, writing, baking, gardening, and traveling near and far.