In an effort to ease the transition from high school into mathematics and statistics courses at a college/university
level many colleges and universities have begun requiring incoming students take some sort of mathematics placement
exam. All colleges and universities in the Utah System of Higher Education (UHSE) administer some form of placement
exam in mathematics to help students determine appropriate college level mathematics and statistics courses to take.
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Utah State University administers the Math Placement Exam (MPE). This
exam is available to all students at USU and for many students in the public school system who are interested in
determining their math skill level before or after entering Utah State University.
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The Math Placement Exam
The Math Placement Exam (MPE) can be taken at any time for a fee of $10 that includes the cost of
one or two exams along with advisement by the mathematics and statistics advising staff. The Math Advising Office uses
the MPE score to assess each student's math skill set. The goal is to determine a path through the mathematics
and statistics courses needed for successful completion of the student's degree program. The process generally follows
the following sequence of events.
Step 4. There are two possible exams a student may take to assess the math skills the student currently
has. After a brief interview the proctor will start the student on either the Elemetary Algebra (EA) exam, or
the College Level Math (CLM) exam.
Step 5. When the exam is complete, the student will notify the proctor that all of the questions have
been answered and the proctor will use the score on the exam to determine if the student should take the second
exam or if the student can be placed into a particular math course, say Math 1010.
Step 6. After the student has been placed, the student can choose to enroll in the course determined
by the exam scores or Review
some set of math skills and take the exam again at a later time.
Please note that the fee for the MPE includes one advisement and placing. This includes a brief interview before the
MPE is taken, one or two exams depending on the score on the first exam, and finally the advisement and placement after
the exam is completed.
A Tale of Two Placement Exams
As mentioned above, there are two exams a student might need to take to get a full assessment of the math skills the
student has. The Elementary Algebra (EA) exam tests basic algebra skills included in Math 0950 and 0990 and into first part
of Math 1010. The College Level Math (CLM) exam tests further algebra skills and trigonometry skills of the student.
It is difficult at best to get a good idea how each student retains math skills. After the initial interview, a
student may start with either exam. If a student starts with the EA exam and scores very well, the advisors in the
Math Advising office will normally request the student continue on into the CLM exam (at no extra charge). Once both
scores are evaluated, a better idea of how current the math skills are is indicated. On the other side of things, if a student
starts in the CLM exam and struggles, the student will be asked to continue and take the EA exam (at no extra charge)
to see where the math skills need a bit of work. Students can place into Math 0950, Math 0990, Math 1010, and Stat 1040 in the EA exam. However, to place
into Math 1050 and Math 1060 a student must be able to obtain a reasonable score on the CLM exam. Finally, to place
into Math 1100 or Math 1210 it is expected that the student will earn a very high score on the CLM exam. Scores on
both the EA and CLM exams are not published since it is expected that these scores will be modified as the need arises.