Mathematics Placement Exams


You will be placed into your first math course at USD based on your score on the mathematics portion of your SAT or ACT exam. To attempt to place into a more advanced math course than the one your SAT or ACT score qualifies you for, you may take one of our Mathematics Placement Exams. Below is an explanation of our mathematics requirement and placement exams.

Contents


Log In / Take the Placement Exam

USD Math Requirements

USD requires all students to demonstrate basic mathematical competence in order to graduate. This requirement may be fulfilled by passing Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112), College Algebra (Math 115), or a more advanced course such as Calculus (Math 130 or 150). A student may also fulfill the requirement by passing a Competency Exam (which is not the same as a Placement Exam). The vast majority of our students satisfy the requirement by taking one of the above courses.

If you decide you would like to take a Placement Exam in order to place into a higher level course than your SAT/ACT score will allow, you will need to choose whether to take the Level 1 or Level 2 Placement Exam. This choice will be based on the level of mathematics course which seems appropriate for your start. (If you guess wrong don?t worry?we?ll just retest you).


How to Decide Which Placement Exam to Take

Level 1 exam:

If you would like to start with College Algebra (Math 115) or Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112) you will need to pass the Level 1 Placement Exam. The Level 1 exam covers the material in an intermediate algebra course (usually the second year of high school algebra). We have
Sample Level 1 Exam Questions on-line so that you can know what to expect on this exam. The exam takes 45 minutes.

If you do not do well enough on the exam to place into Math 115, we offer Intermediate Algebra (Math 90) as a review course to prepare you to take Math 115, or you could take a course similar to Math 115 at a community college. To take Math 115 at USD you must either pass the Level 1 Placement Exam or pass Math 90 at USD with a C-. We do not accept any transfer credit at the Math 90 Level.

Level 2 exam:

If you feel that you are ready to start with Calculus I (Math150) or Survey of Calculus (Math 130), take the Level 2 exam. This exam covers the material normally found in a precalculus course. We have Sample Level 2 Exam Questions on-line so that you can know what to expect on this exam. The Level 2 exam takes 60 minutes.

Students taking this exam will be given two different results: preparation for Math 150 based on the entire exam, and preparation for Math 130 for which the trigonometry questions are not counted. If you do not do well enough on the exam to place into Math 130 or Math 150, you should take the Level 1 Placement Exam to see if you are prepared to take College Algebra (Math 115) as a review course before you take Calculus.


Exam Preparation

You do not have to do well on all topics to pass the exams, but of course you will want the exams to show what you do know, and being a little rusty may cause you to miss questions you might have had correct. Further, since the exams test your readiness to take a particular course, you will want to be sure you are comfortable with all the topics on the placement exam before you begin the corresponding mathematics course. If you have not just finished a mathematics course, we expect you to review for the exams so that what you do know is fresh in your mind.

Level 1 Exam Preparation

We have Sample Level 1 exam questions on-line so that you can know what types of questions to expect for this exam. In addition, useful online mathematics review materials can be found at:


Level 2 Exam Preparation

We have Sample Level 2 exam questions on-line so that you can know what types of questions to expect for this exam. In addition, useful online mathematics review materials can be found at:


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where, when, and how can I take the Math Placement Exam?

    A student may take the exam in Serra 205 any time the lab is open to take the placement exam, except between 12pm-2pm and 7pm-9pm. To allow time for the student to complete the exam before the lab closes, a student may begin an exam no later than 1.5 hours before the lab closes for the evening. You do not need a reservation to do this; just tell a Lab Assistant at the front desk that you want to take a Math Placement Exam. Click here to find out when the lab is open.

    In addition, incoming freshmen and transfer students may take each level of the exam one time from home. A week or so after you have paid your deposit to enroll at USD, you will be sent an email with instructions for taking this exam from home. All current USD students must take this exam in our computer lab.

  2. What should I bring to the placement exam?

    You should bring your USD student ID and a pencil or pen with you to the exam. You will be given scratch paper at the exam if you like. You may not use your own scratch paper and you may not use a calculator.

  3. How can I get a password to take the placement exam?

    You will be given your password when you arrive to our computer lab to take the exam. If you have taken this exam before, you will be given the same password that you used earlier, but you will still be forbidden to access the exam until you have checked in with a Lab Assistant at the front desk of our computer lab.

  4. I haven't yet taken a math course at USD. What math class am I qualified to sign up for?

    In general, students may choose a math class based on their scores on a Calculus AP exam or on their math score on their SAT/ACT exams, as shown in the table below. In addition to this,

  5. I am an incoming freshman at USD. Do I need to take the Placement Exam?
  6. The summer advisors who enroll you in your classes will choose an appropriate math course for you based on a consideration of your math score on your SAT or ACT exam, your score on an AP Calculus Exam (if any), the math course you've requested on your Freshman Questionnaire, and the requirements of your stated choice(s) of major. The highest level class that your AP Calc / SAT / ACT score will qualify you for is given in the table below.

    A score of .... ... qualifies you for this Math class or lower.
    3, 4, or 5 on AP Calculus BC Exam Calculus III (Math 250)
    (Course credit will be given for Math 150 & Math 151)
    3, 4, or 5 on AP Calculus AB Exam Calculus II (Math 151)
    (Course credit will be given for Math 150)
    Math SAT ≥ 600 or Math ACT ≥ 26 Calculus I (Math 150)
    Math SAT ≥ 570 or Math ACT ≥ 25 Survey of Calculus (Math 130)
    Math SAT ≥ 530 or Math ACT ≥ 22 College Algebra (Math 115) or
    Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112)
    Math SAT < 530 and Math ACT < 22 Intermediate Algebra (Math 90)

    Incoming students may be placed in a math course by their SAT / ACT scores before their AP exam score arrives to USD. If your AP exam score indicates you should be in a more advanced math course that you have been enrolled in by our summer advisors based on your SAT score, you should go to the registrar's office on campus to change your math course to a more appropriate course.

    If you feel you should be placed in a more advanced math course than the one you were assigned, you may take our Math Placement Exam from home or once you arrive to campus to attempt to place into a different class.

  7. I am an incoming freshman. How can I decide which math course I should request on my Freshman Questionnaire?

    There is a very useful page on the Math/CS Department website which will help you make this decision.

  8. I am transferring to USD, and I have taken a math class at another university that I would like to try to transfer to USD to satisfy the mathematics requirement. Should I take the exam?

    If you have taken a class at another university which satisfies your math requirement, and you don't intend to take a math course at USD, then you do not need to take the placement exam. Contact the Math Department's Executive Assistant at (619) 260 4706 if you want to see if your math class will transfer. Otherwise, you must take the placement exam in order to gain entry into an appropriate math course.

  9. I am an incoming freshman or transfer student to USD. How can I take the Placement Exam if I'm not on campus yet?

    Incoming freshmen and transfer students have one chance to take the exam from their home computers. You will receive your login information and instructions for taking the exam via email. Note that this information will be sent to the email address that you gave the university when you applied for admission, so be sure to look in the correct account for this email.

  10. How long is my Placement Exam score good for?

    USD's Math Placement Exam scores, and SAT/ACT math scores used for placement into math classes, never expire.

  11. Can I take the placement exam more than once?

    Each year is divided into two periods: Period 1 is between March 1 and September 30 of the same year, and Period 2 is between October 1 of one year and Feb 28/29 of the following year. You may take the exam at most two times in any one Period. Also, you may take the exam at most one time in 24 hours.

  12. Will Trigonometry (Math 118) satisfy USD's mathematics requirement?

    No. But any other math course with course number 112 and above will satisfy this requirement.

Email mathplacement@sandiego.edu if you have questions.
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