How to Prepare for a Math Placement Test
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How to Prepare for a Math Placement Test

Math placement tests are increasingly being utilized by institutions of higher learning to help determine the appropriate math course placement for incoming students. Here’s everything you need to know about these high stakes tests so you can be prepared.

What are math placement tests and how are they used?

Math placement tests are administered to determine students’ understanding of a variety of math concepts. They are most often used to assign students to the proper math course when they matriculate. It’s crucial to understand that these high stakes tests have real financial consequences for families. Students who are unable to attain a certain score on a math placement test will most often be assigned a remedial math course before being allowed to enroll in higher level math courses. Families will pay tuition for these remedial math courses, but often, because the coursework is not considered college-level, the students will earn no credit. Spending precious time and money on coursework that will not ultimately contribute toward earning a degree clearly should be avoided, when possible.

Conversely, math placement tests can also help more advanced students test out of lower-level math classes so they can move on to more challenging work immediately upon matriculation. Some math tests, like the CLEP test, are offered in a variety of subject areas, and, with a passing score, entitle students to college credit, effectively saving precious tuition money.

What are the different types of math placement tests?

Testing requirements are set by the institutions you hope to attend. Each institution should clearly state their placement testing requirements. If you are unsure what tests you will be required to take, contact the admissions office to clarify. Some popular tests are state-specific, and others are used across the country. Here are some of the most common math placement tests:

  •  Accuplacer
  •  ALEKS
  •  TSI – The Texas Success Initiative assessment
  •  NCDAP – The North Carolina Diagnostic and Assessment Placement Test
  •  VPT – The Virginia Placement Test
  •  PERT – The Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, used in Florida

Each test has its own format. Some are computerized and adaptive, meaning that the complexity of test questions you subsequently receive will depend on your answers to the previous questions. Tests entail varying lengths and time limits. They may or may not allow different test aids, such as calculators.

The Importance of Preparing for Your Math Placement Test:

In some ways, your preparation for a math placement test is the culmination of all your learning over the course of your education. That said, everyone has areas of weakness that could benefit from increased understanding. Further, there is ample evidence that familiarity with a test and frequent practice taking tests can bolster your results, not only because it eases anxiety to know what’s ahead, but also because practice with testing and retrieval of information helps performance. When coupled with mindful relaxation, the ease test-takers feel when they are prepared will go a long way toward realizing the best result.

At Math Help, we understand the ins and outs of a breadth of placement exams, and we can help you familiarize yourself with all the particulars of the test or tests you will be required to take. We will assess your mastery of all the skills you need so we can focus individualized tutoring on the areas that require the most attention. We’ll track your progress over time, and work with you to set goals, so you’ll feel prepared on test day.

To get ready for your math placement test, visit ACCUPLACER, ALEKS, TSI, PERT, NCDAP, VPT, CLEP, ACT, or our math placement test prep page. No matter what school you are attending, we will help you build your math skills so you are optimally prepared to successfully complete your math placement exam and place out of remedial math!

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