Frequently Asked Questions about the Math Placement Test
Q. What if I want to review but don't have a math textbook or notes available?
A. Mention that in your comment, and just do the best you can. (Or maybe you can find a textbook to borrow from a library.)
Q. Why can't I use a calculator on this test?
A. We realize that some students are used to having access to calculators. However, arithmetic and other skills are still needed daily. Therefore, we need to get a sense of those skills.
Q. How can I tell which problems correspond to which courses?
A. Schools teach topics in different orders. It is important for you to look at all the problems and try any that look familiar. Approximately,
Q. How many problems do I have to get correct in order to place into a course?
A. There is no predefined "passing" score for placement. We really do take the other information into account as well.
Q. Why do I have to show work?
A. Showing work helps us see your level of understanding. We want to know whether an incorrect answer is caused by confusion about the underlying concepts or by merely a computational error.
Q. Why show work on the page instead of on separate paper?
A. We have to grade dozens of tests in a short time. They are easier to grade if the work is right there with the problem. Please bear with us and try to write small enough. Thanks!
Q. Why is the test so long?
A. These problems represent routine facts and problem-solving skills of medium difficulty from several courses. We use them to evaluate the level at which any new student will enter the math program.
Q. Why not send different levels of shorter tests to different students?
A. Since we use this test to help determine the student’s level, we prefer not to guess prematurely about that level.
Q. I was able to do problems on only a couple of the pages. May I send just those pages?
A. Yes. Please send page 1 through the last page containing attempted solutions. If you send only some pages, please write END after the last solution so we will be certain where you stopped.
Q. After the test, what if I realize I should take a different course from the one I wrote on the course request form?
A. That’s OK (in fact, not uncommon). Just write in the comment box on page 1 what course you now think you should take.