What is the purpose of the Mathematics Placement Exam?

The purpose of the Mathematics Placement Exam is to place a student into the appropriate math course, and to make sure the student has the skills required for that particular course. It is the ‘test of best fit’. The student can choose one of the five tests offered: Basic Algebra, Algebra, Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry and Elementary Functions, and Calculus Readiness. The placement tests can place students in math classes up to, and including, Calculus I.  For additional information and instructional video, please visit the Advising Center's Online Placement Testing page.

Who takes the mathematics placement exam?

The purpose of the Mathematics Placement Exam is to place a student into the appropriate math course, and to make sure the student has the skills required for that particular course. It is the ‘test of best fit’. The student can choose one of the five tests offered: Basic Algebra, Algebra, Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry and Elementary Functions, and Calculus Readiness. The placement tests can place students in math classes up to, and including, Calculus I.

Can the Math Placement Score be used to show Proficiency in a particular math course?

No. The math placement tests are for placement purposes only. These tests will NOT be used to show proficiency. Students who wish to establish math proficiency may do so by one of the following:

      • The on-campus Math Proficiency Exam or
      • An externally administered AP or CLEP exam.
The Academic and Career Enrichment Center will provide several opportunities to complete the Math Proficiency Exam. For additional information, please contact the ACE Center at (630) 829-6041.


What is the exam format?

The questions are multiple-choice. Once the student is done with the test, he/she must click on ‘Grade’ TWICE.

A calculator is NOT allowed to be used during the test.  The questions are designed to test knowledge and understanding of algebra, as well as calculation skills. The student may choose one of the following five tests. The student should review the list of topics and select the highest test he/she feels comfortable taking. The time allotted for each test varies from 30 to 45 minutes.

1. Basic Algebra The topics covered include:

      • Arithmetic of Rational Numbers
      • Order of Operations
      • Operations with Algebraic Expressions
      • Algebraic Fractions
      • Exponents and Radicals
      • Linear Equations and Inequalities
      • Systems of Linear Equations
      • Fractional and Quadratic Equations
      • Word Problems
      • Graphing
Passing this test places the student into MATH 095 (Intermediate Algebra). If a student does not pass this test, he/she should take remedial coursework at a community college.  Please talk to your advisor for other options that may be available to you.

2. Algebra The topics covered include:

      • Arithmetic of Rational Numbers
      • Operations with Algebraic Expressions
      • Linear Equations and Inequalities
      • Factoring and Algebraic Fraction       
      • Exponents and Radicals
      • Graphing
      • Fractional and Quadratic Equations and Quadratic Inequalities
      • Logarithms
      • Functions
      • Complex Numbers
      • Absolute Value
      • Systems of Equations
Passing this test places the student into a Basic Skills math course (MATH 105, 108, 110 or 112). If a student does not pass this test, he/she should take the Basic Algebra Test.

3. Advanced Algebra The topics covered include:

      • Arithmetic of Rational Numbers
      • Operations with Algebraic Expressions
      • Linear Equations and Inequalities
      • Factoring and Algebraic Fractions
      • Exponents and Radicals
      • Graphing
      • Fractional and Quadratic Equations and Quadratic Inequalities
      • Logarithms
      • Functions
      • Complex Numbers
      • Absolute Value
      • Systems of Equations
Passing this test places the student into MATH 111 (College Trigonometry), MATH 115 (Business Calculus – QCM), or MATH 131 (The Mathematical Universe - QCM).  If a student does not pass this test, he/she should take the Algebra Test.

4. Trigonometry and Elementary Functions The topics covered include:

      • Definition of Trigonometric Functions
      • Right Triangles
      • Co-functions
      • Evaluation of Special Angles
      • Related Angles
      • Radian Measure
      • Graphing
      • Identities
      • Laws of Sines and Cosines
      • Trigonometric Equations
      • Inverse Trigonometric Functions
      • Distance
      • Straight Line
      • Conics
      • Functions: Notation, Composition
      • Graphs and Their Properties
      • Logarithmic and Exponential Functions
      • Higher Degree Polynomials
      • Absolute Value
      • Inequalities
Passing this test with a high score places the student into MATH 210  (Calculus I– QCM) . Passing this test with a midrange score places the student into MATH 111 (College Trigonometry), MATH 115 (Business Calculus - QCM), MATH 131 (The Mathematical Universe - QCM), or MATH 170 (Introduction to Calculus I). The student should consult his/her adviser to decide which course is appropriate for his/her major. If a student does not pass this test, he/she should take the Advanced Algebra Test.

5. Calculus Readiness The topics covered include:

      • Geometry and Measurement
      • Graphs of Functions
      • Word Problems, Modeling
      • Concept Formulation
      • Numerical Awareness
      • Exponential Functions
      • Exponents and Logarithms
      • Equations and Factoring
      • Functional Notation
      • Inequalities, Absolute Value
      • Trigonometry
Passing this test places the student into a version of Calculus (either MATH 115 – QCM, MATH 170, or MATH 210 – QCM) or MATH 131 (The Mathematical Universe – QCM). The student should consult his/her adviser to decide which course is appropriate for his/her major. If a student does not pass this test, he/she should take the Trigonometry and Elementary Functions test.

Should I prepare for the mathematics placement exam?

Yes! You are strongly encouraged to study before taking this exam, and to take the exam only when you feel rested, not under stress, and have sufficient time to complete the test. The content information is listed with each exam description. Mathematics textbooks can be good study aids. Here are some websites that can also help with your preparation:

      • www.math.com - click on "Practice" tab. There is help available in basic math, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and calculus.
      • www.sosmath.com - This is an award-winning site that offers help in algebra, trigonometry, and calculus with links to other math websites, including sites that offer on-line help, tutoring, and other services. This site also offers practice quizzes with complete solutions. This is a GREAT site.
      • www.khanacademy.org – Once on the site, click on “Math by Subject” and choose the subject closest to the placement test you are preparing for.  This site provides videos, classes, and interactive practice problems that provide hints and/or link to videos for extra help.  It is an amazing site and it’s all free of charge!



updated 4/20/17

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