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Math Placement Exam

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does a student have to take a University Studies QA course?

A UW student must either take a QA course or test out of a QA course. A student can test out of a QA course by achieving:

  • Level 4 or above on the Math Placement Exam; OR
  • an ACT math score of 26 or above; OR
  • a SAT quantitative score of 600 or above; OR
  • a "C" or better in a calculus course (i.e. MATH 2200 OR MATH 2350); OR
  • Advanced Placement credit in calculus.

2. Does a student need to take the Math Placement Exam to place into a course?

Students are exempt from taking the Math Placement Exam if:

  • they have a grade of C or better in a prerequisite course; OR
  • they have a sufficiently high ACT score (please see prerequisite sheet ); OR
  • they have an SAT quantitative score of 600 or above; OR
  • they have Advanced Placement Calculus credit; OR
  • IB Math credit; OR
  • CLEP Math credit; OR
  • GRE Quant 650 or above.

3. What kind of college course credit does a student get if he or she receives Advanced Placement Calculus credit?

If a student receives a 3, 4 or 5 on the AB portion of the Advanced Placement Calculus Exam he or she will receive 4 credit hours of Math 2200, Calculus I.

If a student receives a 3, 4 or 5 on the BC portion of the Advanced Placement Calculus Exam he or she will receive 4 credit hours of Math 2200, Calculus I and 4 credit hours of Math 2205, Calculus II.

4. When is the Math Placement Exam offered and how many times can a student take the Math Placement Exam?

During the academic year (except holidays) the MPE is offered every Monday afternoon. The exam is also offered at every Freshman Orientation session and several times at the beginning of each semester. The cost of the exam is $15. Students do not need to register for the exam. There is no restriction on the number of times a student can take the Math Placement Exam.

5. Are study materials available for the MPE?
Sample questions for the MPE are available in the Math Department, Room 29, Ross Hall. There are also computer software packages available to students. These packages help students refresh their algebra and trigonometry skills. They are available on the student network (any student computer lab on campus). The path is: Start Menu; All programs; Math Programs; Boxer Learning; (pick a program).

6. What if a student's ACT score qualifies him or her for a higher level class than their Math Placement Score (or vice versa)?

The Math Department will always accept the higher of the two scores for placement purposes. Thus, a student with an ACT of 23 but an MPE score of Level 1 would technically be qualified to take College Algebra (see prerequisite sheet). However, when significant discrepancies exist between test scores students should be cautious about the classes they choose to take and ideally should consult with the Math Department about an appropriate course.

7.  If a student is in a non-technical major (i.e. Humanities/Fine Arts), should they take MATH 1000  (Problem Solving) or MATH 1400 (College Algebra) to satisfy the QA requirement?

MATH 1000 is a course designed to satisfy the University Studies QA requirement for non-technical majors. It is not a prerequisite for College Algebra or the other precalculus courses. Most students who end up in a non-technical major (i.e.Communication/Mass Media, Art, History, etc.) take MATH 1000. However, a student in a non-technical major who qualifies for MATH 1400 is certainly welcome to take the course. One advantage of taking MATH 1400 is that if a student decides to change his or her major to a more technical field, MATH 1400 would serve as a prerequisite for higher-level, precalculus math classes whereas MATH 1000 would not.

8. What is the difference between the MATH 1400/1405 sequence and MATH 1450 (Algebra and Trigonometry)?

There are two big differences. Because MATH 1450 is a one semester, 5-hour course, its pace is much quicker than the 1400/1405 sequence. This is especially noticeable in the trigonometry part of MATH 1450; students who have prior knowledge of right triangle trigonometry are more likely to keep up and be successful in the course. Secondly, 1450 is geared for the student who intends to enroll in Calculus I. Because of this, in MATH 1450 there is a greater emphasis on algebraic manipulation than there would be in MATH 1400 so a student should also have strong algebra skills. As a general rule, students who are not confident about their algebra/trigonometry skills or who have been away from trigonometry for a while should plan on taking the MATH 1400/1405 sequence.

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