How to Pass a College Math Placement Test

Congrats! You have made it through high school, have taken the ACT or SAT, and have been accepted to college. It can be a rewarding experience in many ways, especially if you get into a program with the right courses to achieve your goals.

Most college degrees, regardless of your major, require that you take a math course. To determine which level of mathematics matches your current ability, your school is likely to administer its own college math placement test rather than use the standardized test scores. Let’s explore the reasons for this placement test and what the content generally looks like.

Why Colleges Require Math Placement Tests

Once admitted to college, you may be asked to take placement tests for various subjects, not just math. Why is this? Although college admissions representatives can read your high school transcripts and view courses you’ve taken, they understand that there’s variation in what is taught and how well students must master it to achieve their grades.

The college’s math courses might not align perfectly with what high schools offer, so a college-level math placement test score provides a more accurate assessment of what you’ve mastered and where you should be placed.

Students who are placed too high or too low in the math curriculum can become frustrated with their progress. This frustration can result in poor learning, inadequate performance, and dropping out. Your college wants you to succeed, just as you want to succeed. When you’re matched with the right math content, you’ll do better, be happier with your experience, and be more likely to stay in school.

What To Study For the Math Placement Test

Colleges usually develop their own math placement tests, but the tests are usually similar, covering your basic skills, application ability, and analysis of concepts on topic areas:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Ratios
  • Proportions
  • Percentages
  • Averages
  • Rounding
  • Square roots
  • Pre-algebra
  • Algebra 1 and 2
  • Expressions
  • Linear equations
  • Quadratic equations
  • Systems of equations
  • Inequalities
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials
  • Factoring
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Measurement
Probability and Statistics
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Theoretical probability
  • Experimental probability
  • Permutations

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How to Prepare for the Math Placement Test

How to Study Effectively

Your success on test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking AOCNP practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free math placement practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:

  • The questions you got wrong
  • The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
  • The ones you found difficult or slow to work through

This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.

Answer Explanations

Additionally, many math placement practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.

Comprehend Each Topic

As you go along, keep in mind that the math placement practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.

Strategy for Math Placement Test Practice

When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:

  • Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and math study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
  • Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
  • Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.

What to Expect on Test Day

At most colleges, you’ll take the placement test on a computer in a designated lab or room. Learn the rules for the test day and the site. Find out what you are and aren’t allowed to take into the test site. In some cases, a school will allow you to bring in a calculator, and in others, the school will prohibit calculators.

To get the most meaningful results from your test, focus on the preparation of your math skills through practice and study, and make sure that you get plenty of sleep and take care of personal needs prior to the test.

Math Placement Test Online Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online Math Placement prep course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The Math Placement Test course includes:

  • Review Lessons Covering Every Topic
  • 1,100+ Math Placement Practice Questions
  • Over 130 Video Tutorials
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The Math Placement Test prep course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their math placement exam. Click below to check it out!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: March 5, 2024