Course Placement Information

A student may receive credit for specific UCSB mathematics courses by having taken the qualifying exams in Mathematics stated below.

Advanced Placement Test Credit

Calculus AB and Subscore:

Score of 1= No unit credit; must take Math Placement Exam (MPE) to determine placement
Score of 2= No unit credit; placement into Math 2A or 3A without taking MPE
Score of 3, 4, or 5 = 4 units of credit applied to Math 3A; placement into Math 2B or 3B

Calculus BC Test and Subscore:

Score of 1= No unit credit; must take MPE to determine placement
Score of 2= No unit credit; placement into Math 2A or 3A without taking MPE
Score of 3,4 or 5= 8 units of credit applied to Math 3AB; placement into Math 4A

International Baccalureate Exam Credit

Higher Level Mathematics

Score of 5,6 or 7= 8 units of credit applied to Math 3AB; placement into Math 4A

Cambridge International A Level Exam Credit

Mathematics Exam

Grade of A,B or C= 8 units of credit applied to Math 3AB; placement into Math 4A

Mathematics Further Exam

Grade of A,B or C= 4 units of credit applied to Math 4A; placement into Math 4B

 

The Mathematics Placement Exam (MPE)

The Mathematics Placement Exam is used to determine a student's readiness for an introductory calculus class, either Math 2A or Math 3A. (Please see the list below for majors that require these series). This test is not required for students who wish to take Math 34A*.

What is the difference between the Calculus 2 or 3 series and the 34 series? Math 34AB is a terminal series designed for students whose majors require a basic understanding of calculus and its applications in the social and biological sciences. Math 2AB/3AB is for students in the physical sciences and engineering, or for those who wish to study calculus beyond the first year. They are followed by Math 4AB and Math 6AB.

The Math Placement Exam is:

  • Free of charge
  • Available to take without pre-registration
  • A multiple choice exam with 60 questions
  • Administered on-line several times an academic year

If your enrollment in a math course hinges on your test score, take the test as early as possible. This allows you time to review the suggested topics and even retake the test after studying before the new test becomes available.

Topics

  • Exponents and Radicals
  • Functions and their Graphs
  • Geometry & Geometric Applications
  • Linear Equations and Inequalities, Absolute Values, and their Graphs
  • Logarithmic and Exponential Functions and their Graphs
  • Polynomials and Polynomial Equations and their Graphs
  • Rational Expressions and their Graphs
  • Trigonometry

Notice that you are expected to show competence in each of these areas. At the end of the exam, you will be NOT given a placement recommendation immediately. However, you will be told how you did in each of these topic areas so you can begin reviewing the areas you are weakest in (either in anticipation of enrolling in a math course or in order to prepare to re-take the placement exam).

Preparation

We recommend taking an online readiness test to practice for the MPE.

You are allowed to take the exam multiple times, but you have to wait until the new window of examination is offered.

Recommended refresher books

  • Precalculus Review Topics [PDF] by Sara Hawtrey Jones.
  • Just-In-Time Algebra and Trigonometry by Mueller & Brent. Addison-Wesley ISBN 0-201-41951-3
  • Schaum's Outline of College Algebra by Spiegel. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-060266-2. (More basic than the other Schaum's Outline book.)
  • Schaum's Outline of Precalculus by Fred Safier. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-057261-5. (More advanced than the other Schaum's Outline book.)

After taking the test

After the test scores are processed by the Mathematics Department, a placement recommendation code will be uploaded to GOLD within two weeks of the exam. These codes are as follows:

4. Congratulations! A code of 4 indicates that you have mastered the prerequisite material enough to be prepared to succeed in Math 3A. That is, a code of 4 lets you enroll in Math 3A.

3. You are more prepared to succeed in Math 2A, which incorporates pre-calculus review into the curriculum, than in Math 3A. You are permitted to enroll in Math 3A at your own risk. That is, a code of 3 permits you to enroll in Math 2A or Math 3A.

2. You are prepared to succeed in Math 2A, which incorporates pre-calculus review into the curriculum, but not Math 3A. If Math 2A is not available, you will need to re-take the placement exam after reviewing the prerequisite material or enroll in a course in precalculus at a community college or in an e-learning class offered by the University of California. That is, a code of 2 allows you to enroll in Math 2A but not in Math 3A.

1. You have not shown mastery of the prerequisite material. You are encouraged to enroll in a course in precalculus at a community college or in an e-learning class offered by the University of California. You may also re-take the placement exam after reviewing the prerequisite material, but substantial review will be required. That is, a code of 1 does not permit you to enroll in Math 2A or Math 3A.

Test results are valid for one calendar year. If you do not register for an appropriate math class in that time, you will need to take the MPE again. If you take the placement test more than once, the most recent placement recommendation will replace previous test results.

The Exam

You may take this exam only once per calendar month. If you stop in the middle of the exam or do not pass the exam, you must re-take the exam during the next month. To take the exam, please have your Perm Number ready. You must enter your Perm Number when asked for Student ID.

During September: Click here to begin the test.

 

Your results will be available on GOLD within two weeks of you taking the exam.

Majors that require the Math 3 series Majors that accept the 34 series
College of Letters and Science College of Letters and Science
BS BioChemistry-Molecular Biology
BA Chemistry
BS BioChemistry
BS Chemistry-
Cooperative Program in Chem & Chem Engineering
BA Economics/Mathematics
BS Environmental Studies
BS Financial Mathematics and Statistics
BS Hydrologic Sciences (E.S. Major)
BS Physical Geography
BA Geological Sciences
BS Geological Sciences
BS Geological Sciences-Earth Systems
BS Geophysics
BA Mathematics
BS Mathematics
BS Mathematical Sciences
BS Physics
BA Physics
BA Statistical Sciences
BS Statistical Sciences

BS Aquatic Biology
BA Biological Sciences
BS Biological Sciences
BS Cell and Developmental Bio.
BS Ecology and Evolution
BA Economics
BA Economics/Accounting
BS Microbiology
BS Pharmacology
BS Physiology
BS Zoology
BA Environmental Studies
BS Geological Sciences-Paleobiology
BA Geological Sciences-Sci Ed Emphasis
BA Psychology
BS BioPsychology

College of Engineering College of Engineering
BS Chemical Engineering
BS Computer Engineering
BS Computer Science
BS Electrical Engreering
BS Mechanical Engreering
 
College of Creative Studies College of Creative Studies
Math and Science Programs