Indiana University Northwest
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Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science

Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science

Frequently Asked Questions (Placement)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who takes the Placement math exam?
    New students are informed upon admission of the need for placement testing, specifically on their Certificate of Admission. Students who have no credit for an IU Northwest math course (have not taken a course or have not transferred in equivalent course work) must take the placement exam before registering for a math course. Students from other IU campuses are required to take the math placement exam if they have not satisfied the IU Northwest prerequisites for a particular course.
  • How is the exam structured?
    Placement testing has FOUR different tests, resulting in five different levels. The PLACEMENT page list classes you can take for each level.
    • Test MA102 contains questions from Advanced Arithmetic: fractions and decimals, percents and proportions, signed numbers
      (failing Test MA102 results in level MA101; passing Test MA102 results in level MA102).
    • Test MA103 contains questions from Elementary Algebra:
      simplifying expressions, linear equations and inequalities, solving formulas, systems of linear equations, applications, exponents and polynomials, line, factoring, quadratic equations
      (passing Test MA103 results in level MA103). 
    • Test MA104 contains questions from Basic Algebra:
      rational expressions, algebraic operations with radicals, systems of linear equations, quadratic function, applications, quadratic formula, functions and their graphs
      (passing Test MA104 results in level MA104). 
    • Test MA105 contains questions from Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry: algebraic operations, polynomial, exponential, and logarithmic functions and their graphs, equations of circles, trigonometric functions, trigonometric identities, and trigonometric graphs
      (passing Test MA105 results in level MA105).
  • What is the procedure?
    Upon arrival, the placement test administrator will ask you what mathematic course you need to take. Based on your answer you’ll be given the appropriate level test. You will have 50 minutes to take this test. If you answer at least 70% of the questions correctly, the administrator will record that level in OneStart which will allow you to take the desired mathematics course once you follow the departmental procedure process mentioned previously. If you fail this test, the administrator will offer you the opportunity to take a one-level lower test. The second test will determine if you would be allowed to take the prerequisite course.
  • What if I am not sure what mathematics course do I need to take?
    A list of majors and the required math course can be found at the Majors and Math Requirement chart. Keep in mind that this placement exam is used to determine your math skills and the results are used to place you into the appropriate course for your skill level; your current math skills may not equal those needed for the math course required for your major.
  • Can I use a calculator during the exam?
    No, the exams are designed so that a calculator is not necessary.
  • How much time do I have for the exam?
    You'll be allowed maximum 50 minutes for each test that you need to take.
  • How can I prepare for the mathematics placement exam?
    The mathematics placement exam is designed to allow you to demonstrate skills you have already developed, so you do not need to study for it as you might for another type of exam. However, because you do want your effort to reflect your best abilities, we recommend to click on the following links and print practice test MA102, practice test MA103, practice test MA104, or practice test MA105. Working on provided examples before taking the actual Placement Test may help. FREE seminar STEP will help you refresh your advanced arithmetic skills before the placement exam(see Placement page for more information) .
  • Should I guess at questions I am not sure of?
    If you guess at the answers to the problems you do not understand, you have a fairly good chance of guessing correctly, which could result in your being placed in a math class for which you are not prepared. Keep in mind that this exam is used to determine your math skills only and the results are used to place you into the appropriate course for your skill level.
  • What math class should I take?
    Placement testing results along with meeting with your academic advisor will provide you with your options. The order in which the math courses should be taken is shown in the flow chart

For full description of classes visit our Classes page.