Student Services

Math Placement FAQ's

What is the Math Placement Assessment?
The Math Placement Assessment consists of three exams, 20 questions each. One exam covers algebra, one covers trigonometry, and the third covers calculus. Students are allowed 40 minutes to complete each online exam. Calculators are not allowed.

  •   To pass the algebra assessment, you need to answer 16 of the 20 questions correctly.
  •   To pass the trigonometry assessment, you need to answer 9 of the 20 questions correctly.
  •   To pass the calculus assessment, you need to answer 12 of the 20 questions correctly.

Who takes the Math Placement Assessment?
All students who are new to the ISU College of Design will be required to take the Math Placement Assessment. The assessment is used by our academic advisers to help place you in the appropriate math course. This is only a tool and will not negatively affect you.
When and where do I take the Math Placement Assessment?
You will take your placement assessments online prior to June orientation. Even if you can't make it to June orientation, please complete your Math Placement Assessment so you can be appropriately placed into classes.
What if I don't complete my placement assessments in June?

You will still need to take your Math Placement Assessment online prior to the August orientation day.
What do I do when I have finished taking my Math Placement Assessment?
When you have finished taking your assessment, your results are downloaded automatically and will be available when you come to campus for orientation.
Which math placements do I take?
The following are guidelines to determine which exams you should take:

  1. If you have never had calculus, you should take the algebra and trigonometry assessments.
  2. If you have had at least one semester of calculus, you should take the trigonometry and calculus assessments.
  3. If you have transfer credit in any math course, contact your academic adviser to determine what math placement assessment you should take.
  4. If you have or will be earning Advanced Placement (AP) credit in math, please tell your adviser during orientation. AP results are available to us in July, so we still ask that you take the placement assessment to show your math proficiency. All transfer credit and Advanced Placement credit will supersede the results of the placement assessments.  

How do I prepare for my Math Placement Assessment?
After determining which Math Placement Assessment you will take, complete the practice tests for those areas before taking the actual Math Placement Assessment.
How much time is allowed for each assessment?
You will have 40 minutes for each assessment. Additional time should be allowed to take the practice tests before completing the actual placement assessment.
May I use a calculator to take my placement assessment?
No calculators are permitted while taking the placement exams.
If I don't do well on my placement assessment, may I retake it?
Placement assessments may be taken only one time. To ensure that you do your best, please take the practice tests prior to taking the actual placement assessment.

When will my Advanced Placement scores be received by Iowa State University if I have requested them to be sent?
If you take an AP exam during your senior year and request that it be sent to Iowa State University, we will receive your scores in July. Once you receive your scores, contact your academic adviser at Iowa State University to discuss your options for courses to take.
What Advanced Placement scores do you accept for math?
For Calculus I credit, you need a 3 or better on the Calculus AB or BC exam. For credit in both Calculus I and Calculus II, a 4 or better on the Calculus BC exam is required. Advanced Placement credit will supersede the results of the placement assessment.

What do my Math Placement Assessment scores mean?
If you pass a placement assessment in one area, you will be placed into the next math level at the time of your registration for classes. If you do not pass one of the placement assessments, you will be required to take that math course while in college.
What scores do I need to pass each placement assessment and move to the next math level?
Click here for the math scores.
If I didn't do well on my placement assessment and now have to take a math course, do I have to take the class at Iowa State University?
No. You may take the equivalent math course at another college and transfer the credits to Iowa State University. Please check first with the Office of Admissions to ensure that the course will transfer in as the one required at Iowa State University. Students often choose to take the transfer course in the summer prior to starting at Iowa State University.