Mathematics Placement Test Information
All incoming first-year students will take two math placement tests. First, everyone will take the Elementary Algebra test. The second test you take depends on your performance on the first. If you earn a score of 0 - 81 on Elementary Algebra, you will then take the Arithmetic test; if you earn a score of 82-120 on Elementary Algebra, you will instead take the College-Level Math test. Incoming transfer students may need to one or two of these tests, depending on your academic history at your previous institution(s).
Each test is multiple choice and computer-based; questions are untimed so that you can give each question as much thought as you wish.
In order to help you to prepare for your math placement test, the Academic Achievement Center and Department of Mathematics offer a free, online, math review course, called the 6-Cess Math Review Program. Students who participate in the online program will be able to watch refresher videos, view helpful handouts, work on practice problems, and complete rehearsal tests. These workshops are not mandatory; our goal is to help every student be as prepared as possible to succeed not just in placement testing, but in their college-level mathematics coursework. We recommend that all students review these skills prior to testing, especially if you have not taken a math course within the past year.
The Elementary Algebra test, comprised of 12 questions, measures your ability to perform basic algebraic operations and to solve problems involving elementary algebraic concepts. There are three types of Elementary Algebra questions:
Operations with integers and rational numbers: topics include computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering.
Operations with algebraic expressions: topics include the evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials, multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.
- Solution of equations, inequalities, word problems: topics include solving linear equations and inequalities, solving quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context, including geometric reasoning and graphing, and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.
The Arithmetic test, comprised of 17 questions, measures your ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. There are three types of Arithmetic questions:
Operations with whole numbers and fractions: topics included in this category are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers, and estimating.
Operations with decimals and percents: topics include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals. Percent problems, recognition of decimals, fraction and percent equivalencies, and problems involving estimation are also given.
- Applications and problem solving: topics include rate, percent, and measurement problems, simple geometry problems, and distribution of a quantity into its fractional parts.
The College-Level Math test, comprised of 20 questions, measures your ability to solve problems that involve college-level mathematics concepts. There are five types of College-Level Math questions:
Algebraic operations: topics include simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring, expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents.
Solutions of equations and inequalities: topics include the solution of linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, equation systems and other algebraic equations.
Coordinate geometry: topics include plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in the plane, and graphs of algebraic functions.
Applications and other algebra topics: topics include complex numbers, series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions and word problems.
Functions and trigonometry: topics include polynomials, algebraic, exponential, and logarithmic and trigonometric functions.
During your time as a BSU student, you may take the math placement tests a total of three times. Your first attempt is free; subsequent attempts cost $10, payable on test day by Visa, Mastercard, or personal check. We recommend that you refer to our "Resources and Test Preparation" section and spend some time reviewing before attempting a retest.
Retests are held in our office during our office hours. To schedule a retest, give us a call at 508-531-1780, or click here to schedule your appointment online. If you're using our online scheduling tool, you should select "Math Placement Exam - Retest" as your service.