Math Placement

Placement in Mathematics Courses: Fall 2015

The Mathematics Placement Exam will be given Thursday, September 3 in the Jones Computer Center. Exact time for each First Year Seminar is listed in the Orientation Booklet.

Make-ups and re-tests: Once a semester during the week before the registration period for the following semester begins. Students should contact department secretary Roquelle Mickles at x8110 or at least one week before the registration period begins to find out exactly when testing will occur and to make a reservation to test during that time.

Students must bring their U of R student ID number. If students do not have their ID number, or enter it incorrectly they will not be able to register in webAdvisor for their class! Students do not need to bring anything else. The software package includes a calculator and students will not be allowed to use their own.

Why we have placement testing: The purpose of our placement process is to help ensure that students take courses in which they are able to succeed. Student success in mathematics courses is highly dependent on their previous mathematical knowledge and hard work is not enough to make up for a lack of pre-requisite material. Students often have trouble identifying this as the reason that they are struggling in their courses, and we want all students to have a positive mathematical experience.

Pre-Placement: All students with SAT/ACT scores have an initial placement into either Finite Mathematics (Math 101) or the Algebra Skills Lab (Math 001). This placement is located in WebAdvisor under View Student Test Summary for both advisors and students to view. A few students have a higher initial placement via AP Calculus scores.

Who MUST come to Mathematics Placement? All students who want or need to take Calculus and all students who do NOT have SAT/ACT scores in their admissions files. (Most transfer students do not have SAT/ACT scores and must take the placement test even if they do not want/need to take Calculus.)

Who does NOT need to come to Mathematics Placement? All students who have SAT/ACT scores in their admissions files AND are completely certain that they neither want nor need Calculus now or at any point in their future.

Who SHOULD come to Mathematics Placement? Most students will place higher from the Placement Test than from the initial SAT/ACT pre-placement and we encourage all students who are unhappy with or uncertain about their placement to take the placement test. If in doubt, then they should take it. We especially encourage all students who have taken Calculus before or who have done well in mathematics in the past to come to Mathematics Placement. Students with AP Calculus scores should definitely come to placement to make sure we have a correct record of these scores. Students with scores of 3 or higher on AP Calculus (AB or BC) will not have to take the test; they will instead be interviewed by a mathematics faculty member.

Results: Placement results will be reported directly to each student immediately after s/he completes the exam. A student's placement information will also appear as soon as possible after testing (probably early Friday morning) in WebAdvisor under View Student Test Summary. Placement IS enforced by WebAdvisor and students are not able to sign up for a course if they have not placed into it.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can taking the math placement exam lower my placement?

    You cannot lower your placement. If you have SAT placement and take the placement test, your placement will be the highest of the two results.

  • How can I prepare for the math placement exam?

    To prepare for Calculus, you should review algebra and pre-calculus. Reviewing all levels of algebra would be helpful, but especially the material of Algebra II. There is no Calculus on the exam. There are many good websites where you can go to review these materials; for example, Kahn Academy or ALEKS.

  • Can I place into Calculus II by taking the math placement exam?

    Placement into Calculus 2 is by AP scores or interview with a faculty member of the mathematics department.

Questions: If you or your students have any questions or doubts about the accuracy of the placement, please do not hesitate to contact a mathematics faculty member (Beery, x8620; Bentley, x8621; Bieri x8630, Cornez, x8625; Koonce, x8631; Morics, x8633; Veenstra, x8634). Department secretary is Roquelle Mickles (x8110).

Mathematics LAF requirement: U of R students must take at least one mathematics course, selected from:

  • MATH 101, Finite Mathematics

  • [MATH 100, Math for Liberal Arts (not currently offered on a regular basis)]

  • MATH 118-119, Integrated Calculus (requires two semesters to satisfy the LAF M2)

  • MATH 121, Calculus I

  • MATH 122, Calculus II

  • MATH 221, Calculus III

Math 001 and Math 002: Some students are not ready to take Math 101 right away, or want/need to take Calculus and are not prepared for it. These students should take the 1-credit developmental lab either fall or spring of their first year.

  • Students who want to take Math 101 and are not prepared should take Math 001.

  • Students who want to take Calculus and are not prepared should take Math 002. They should not take Math 101 even if they place into it, as it provides no preparation for Calculus.

In both cases, they must successfully complete this 1-credit lab before they take the Math LAF course.

Which course should students take? Generally students should take the highest course they place into.

The only exception to this rule is for students who place into the Math 118-119 sequence. These students should only take this course if they need or wish to take Calculus. Otherwise, we recommend they take 100 or 101 so that they can fulfill their M2 requirement with fewer courses. (Math 118-119 requires two courses to fulfill the M2 requirement, while Math 100 or 101 requires just one course.)

Any student who places into Math 121 (Calculus I) is encouraged to take it, as it would be the more intellectually challenging and rewarding for them. However, these students may also take Math 100 or 101 if they have no interest in or need for Calculus. (They are often bored in Math 100 or 101.) They should definitely take Calculus if they are considering any of the following majors:

Which majors require or recommend Calculus?

  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting

  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

  • Bachelor of Science in Economics

  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (only some tracks of this major require Calculus)

  • Bachelor of Science in Global Business

  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (requires calculus in first year)

  • Bachelor of Science in Physics (requires calculus in first year)

  • PreMed/PreHealth Integrated Programs of Study

When should a student take their mathematics course? If a student plans to take Calculus they should take it during the first year so that they will be prepared for the remainder of their degree programs and so that they may take full advantage of their high school preparation. For the Math 118-119 sequence, students must start this sequence in the fall. All other sections of Calculus are offered both fall and spring.

If a student plans to take MATH 101, Finite Mathematics, they may take it at any time. It does not directly build on high school mathematics material, so there is no urgency to take this course right away. However, we recommend that students take in it the first two years so that they will be able to apply the topics and skills learned in this course to their other courses.