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 SAT or ACT mathematics score within the past five years. A SAT math score of 0 to 430 or an ACT math score of 0 to 17 points corresponds to E placement. A SAT math score of 440 to 510 or an ACT math score of 18 to 21 corresponds to I placement, a SAT math score of 520 to 630 or an ACT math score of 22 to 27 corresponds to R placement, and a SAT math score of 640 to 800 or an ACT math score of 28 or above corresponds to C placement. If a student does not have SAT or ACT scores within the past five years, he or she must take our Placement Test. 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 below.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Placement into mathematics and statistics courses can usually be based on your score on the mathematics portion of the ACT. In some cases students may take a placement test, and that is what is discussed below.
How do I find out if I need to take a math placement exam?
Incoming freshmen and transfer students will receive information about placement in the packet of materials sent by the admission office. For more information, please refer to the Oakland University Admissions Page.
I didn't know you offered three different placement tests. Which one do I take?
In most cases, if you want to place directly into MTH 154 (Calculus I), MTH 122 (Calculus for the Social Sciences), STA 227 (Introduction to Statistical Methods), or STA 228 (Statistical Methods for Biology), you must take and pass Placement Test C, which covers advanced algebra and trigonometry. This exam is given during orientation, and it is available in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics office, as explained below. However, if you scored 28 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT, then you may take any of these courses without passing the placement exam.
Placement into MTH 062 (Intermediate Algebra), MTH 121 (Linear Programming, Elementary Functions), MTH 141 (Precalculus), STA 225 (Introduction to Statistical Concepts and Reasoning), or MTE 210 (Numerical Structures) can be based on your ACT mathematics score. If you feel after discussion with an adviser that your ACT score is not an accurate reflection of your current mathematics preparation (for example, if you took the ACT your junior year of high school and then studied mathematics during your senior year), then you can take Placement Test I (to place into MTH 062), or test R (to skip MTH 062 and place into the other courses listed here).
If you are planning to take MTH 061 (Elementary Algebra) or MTH 118 (Mathematical Sciences in the Modern World), then you do not need to achieve any ACT math score or take a placement test.
I took MTH 062 and didn't get a 2.0 or better. Can I now take the Placement Test in order to qualify for MTH 121?
No. The placement process through ACT scores and a short test are imprecise at best. If you have taken a course like MTH 062 (or MTH 061, or MTH 141, or equivalent courses at other colleges), then this will be a much more accurate gauge of what you know and whether you are ready for subsequent coures, such as MTH 121 (or MTH 141, or MTE 210, or ...). We do not permit students to take the Placement Exam in such circumstances. You need to repeat MTH 062 and receive a 2.0 or better.
When can I take the test? Do I need an appointment?
You may take the placement test at the Department office (368 SEB); no appointment is necessary. The test is offered year-round. Just show up between 8 and 11 AM or between 1 and 4 PM. You should allow about one hour to take the test and receive your results. Make sure to bring your OU student ID number (Grizz number, which starts G00...) and your OU e-mail address (and password), which needs to have been activated. Call 248-370-3430 if you need more information.
When is the best time during a semester to take the test?
You should take the placement exam before you register for your first mathematics course.
When will I find out my results?
The test is graded immediately after you finish and your placement level will then be explained to you.
Where do I go to take the test?
Room 368 of the Science and Engineering Building (the main office of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics). We are in the complex southwest of Kresge Library, in the tower between Dodge and Hannah Halls.
How long will the test take?
The maximum time allotted for the I and C tests is 30 minutes. The R test is longer and has a time limit of 45 minutes. Allow an additional 10 minutes to receive instructions before the test.
What do I need to bring to the test?
Just yourself and a pencil, although you should come knowing your Grizz ID number and your active OU email address (and password).
Can I use a calculator?
No. Calculators, books and notes are not allowed as test aids.
Is there any study material I can use? How do I prepare for the test?
The Department does not encourage students to learn new material before taking the test. However, some students have found that reviewing material they have learned in the past has helped them to achieve a better score on the test.
The Department does not offer any training materials specifically tailored to the skills necessary for the placement exam. A good source for reviewing algebra and trigonometry is high school-level math textbooks; some of these are available in Kresge Library.
In addition, here are sample final exams or study sheets for MTH 061 (and answer key), MTH 062 (and answer key), and MTH 141 (and answer key). If you want to place out of MTH 061 (and into MTH 062), you should know the material on the MTH 061 study sheet. If you want to place out of MTH 062 (and into MTH 121, MTH 141, STA 225, or MTE 210), you should know the material on the MTH 062 study sheet. If you want to place out of MTH 141 (and into MTH 154, MTH 122, STA 227, or STA 228), you should know the material on the MTH 141 sample final exam.
What happens if I take the test and don't get the placement I want?
If you feel that your placement based on the test result is too low, then you may repeat the test once, after waiting a few days (and studying up on the material!).
Is there a fee to take the test?
No, the test is absolutely free!
Why do I have to take this test? I took a placement test at another school. Why don't my high school grades count as a placement?
All colleges use different methods of placement. There is no standardized placement test across Michigan. In addition, there is no standardized high school test to measure high school mathematics skills of students upon graduation.
How do I get more information?
Call the Department of Mathematics and Statistics office (248-370-3430). If the secretary cannot answer your question, you will be referred to a department faculty member for academic advising.