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Placement and Prerequisites

Placement and Prerequisites

Each student enrolling in a course offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics must meet the prerequisites for that course. Students who do not meet the prerequisites will not be permitted to enroll or remain enrolled in the course.

The prerequisites may be met in a number of ways: by completing the stated prerequisite course(s) with a grade of 2.0 or better; by completing an equivalent course at another university, college, or community college with a grade of 2.0 or better; through a departmental placement test; or in some cases by placement based on a sufficiently high score on the mathematics portion of the ACT.

Grades below 2.0 in prerequisite courses are not acceptable, nor are high school courses. In rare cases, the department may grant permission to enroll in a course without the formal prerequisites; students with unusual circumstances should consult the instructor of the course or a department adviser.

The placement tests cover the algebra and trigonometry that are taught in good high school college-preparatory programs. Students who are deficient in these prerequisite subjects must take the appropriate prerequisite course(s) — or their equivalent at another university, college, or community college — before attempting any higher-level courses. Successful performance on a placement test will enable a student to start with a higher-level course without having to take courses that are earlier in the sequence.

The levels of placement are as follows:

  • E: The student is ready for MTH 061 or 118.
  • I: The student has demonstrated competency through MTH 061 and is ready for MTH 062 or 118.
  • R: The student has demonstrated competency through MTH 062 and is ready for MTH 118, 121, 141; MTE 210 or STA 225.
  • C: The student has demonstrated competency through MTH 141 and is ready for MTH 118, 121, 122, 154; MTE 210 or STA 225, 227, 228.
Formal course competency credit is not available in MTH 061, 062, or 141.

Passing one of the placement tests (I, R, or C) qualifies the student for courses at the corresponding level. Placement levels can also be based on the ACT mathematics score. A score of 0 to 17 points corresponds to E placement. A score of 18 to 21 corresponds to I placement, a score of 22 to 27 corresponds to R placement, and a score of 28 or above corresponds to C placement. If a student feels that the ACT test result underrepresents his or her true mathematics background and ability (for instance, if it was taken prior to subsequent mathematics study), then he or she may take our Placement Test; contact the department for details on when and where to take this test, or see the Placement Exam FAQ Page.

In most cases students who have taken a college math course should use that as the basis for placement, rather than ACT scores or the placement test (since college course grades are better indicators of the students' level of knowledge). For example, if a student passed (with at least a C or 2.0) Elementary Algebra at OU (MTH 061) or an equivalent course elsewhere, then that student has placement I, and it would usually not be appropriate to take the placement test in order to bypass MTH 062. Two noteworthy exceptions are as follows:

  1. Statistics courses (such as MAT 1580 at OCC) do not have any relevance to meeting prerequisites for further mathematics courses — it is the algebra background that is important, not the material learned in a statistics class. Therefore, for example, STA 225 or its equivalent does NOT meet the prerequisite for MTE 210 or MTH 121. 
  2. Students who have taken MTH 121 and 122 but not MTH 141 and who now wish to take MTH 154 (a typical reason being a change of major from business to enginnering) need to take Placement Test C, since MTH 121-122 totally ignore trigonometry, which is used in MTH 154 (the placement test is half trig). For further information, please contact a Department adviser (phone 248-370-3430).

A student who feels that he or she has been placed too high may choose to take a more elementary course in order to brush up on rusty skills. Students who feel they have been placed too low should talk to the instructor of the course they wish to take, or to the departmental adviser, but only rarely are exceptions made to the strict enforcement of prerequisites. (The reason for this policy should be clear: we want students to succeed in our courses, and success is virtually impossible for someone without the necessary prior mathematical skills and knowledge. The class proceeds on the assumption that students already know the background material, and it would not be fair to other students if ill-prepared students spent valuable class time asking about prerequisite material.)

Advanced Placement Program
Students who have studied calculus in high school and have taken the Educational Testing Service's Advanced Placement tests may be able to get credit for MTH 154 and/or MTH 155. Scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the AB Calculus test (or the AB subscore of the BC test) earn 4 Oakland University credits for MTH 154; such students are ready for MTH 155. Scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the BC Calculus test earn 8 Oakland University credits for MTH 154 and MTH 155; such students are ready for more advanced courses, such as MTH 254, MTH 275, APM 255, STA 226, or APM 263; the choice depends on the student's program and should be made in consultation with an academic adviser. Scores of 1 or 2 on the AP tests earn no credit or placement.



Last updated: June 16, 2010. Send additions or corrections (or other comments) to Professor Grossman.