I am writing a college admissions essay and would like to get a professional opinion on whether it is acceptable to use the truncated and informal version of the word "mathematics" as "math". I ask this because my essay contains the word "mathematics" about fifteen or so times and would like to cut down on repetitiveness by using various versions of the word. I have included the word "maths" appropriately in my essay because I address my usage of it.

I think it is a creative idea (I think it might be a literary technique - don't know for sure, rusty English skills) to use all of "mathematics", "maths", and "math" in my essay but just want to make sure so I don't seem foolish!

Please add appropriate tags for this question. I am new to this SE site and am not familiar with the tags.

  • "maths": British. "math": American. If you mix them, it may sound like you don't know how to speak English. That's very bad. If you mix one of them and "mathematics", you will just sound informal. That's not as bad. – Peter Shor Jan 21 '14 at 16:45

Both math and maths are informal, where maths is considered to be a British informal usage. According to my own but exactly the same experience for the sake of shortening the wording of mathematics, I suggest to use mathematics throughout your essay. Because, to use only formal expression is a basis requirement of a college admission essay, and I think mathematics is probably the unique formal expression.


According to my experience, I can say that you cannot use math in a formal essay. When I wrote essays, especially essays not about a topic in mathematics but directly about mathematics or philosophy, I had your problem. I used math in drafts of the essays, and my consultant strictly warned me that I could not use the word math instead of mathematics. As there is no other word to take place of mathematics, you have to use it and only it, even there are so many replications.

And as a reference, I should emphasize that I studied mathematics.


No. You cannot use math to mean 'mathematics' in a college admissions essay.

math is informal and is of North American usage.

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