Mathematics Placement

Purpose of the Placement

Southern requires that each student take at least three credits in college-level mathematics. Some undergraduate programs require additional mathematics, and some graduate programs require students to take one or more mathematics courses.  The purpose of the mathematics placement exam is to place students into a mathematics course at an appropriate level, so that with reasonable effort the student has a good chance of success.  There is no passing or failing of the exam, as every student will be placed at some level.  The test does not measure what you once knew or what you could do if you tried harder.  Since some mathematical skills are easily forgotten, especially when not used on a regular basis, a review is advisable prior to taking the math placement exam.

Format of the Placement

There are two placement exams, Placement A and Placement B.

Placement A is computer-based screening test that includes topics from arithmetic; elementary, intermediate, and college algebra; geometry; and trigonometry.  It begins with arithmetic questions and progresses through the various levels of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry until it has determined an appropriate level for you.  The test has a 2 hour time limit but usually takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete. Students completing Placement A will receive a math placement between MAT 100P and MAT 112.

Placement B is also a computer-based screening test. It continues from Placement A and includes coverage of more advanced topics from algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and precalculus. The test also has a 2 hour time limit. Students completing Placement B will receive a math placement between MAT 112 and MAT 150.

Taking the Placement

Due to protective measures currently in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are temporarily offering online placement exams.

To take the online placement exam, you need to register no later than 2pm the day before you want to take the exam. Once you register for the placement exam, you will receive an email confirmation of your registration.

You must register for Placement A if:

  • You are a first-year student with SAT math score up to 560, or ACT math score up to 22.
  • You are a first-year student with no SAT math or ACT math score.
  • You are a transfer student with no transferred math classes or college credit through equivalency testing such as AP, IB, CLEP, or DSST.
  • You are a transfer student with transferred math classes equivalent to MAT 103, MAT 105, or MAT 107 only.

You must register for Placement B if:

  • You are a first-year student with SAT math score 570 or higher, or ACT math score 23 or higher.

Please note that students who have already taken MAT 100 or MAT 100P at Southern are ineligible to take the placement exam.

Register for Mathematics Placement

Changing Your Placement Date or Time

  • Simply log back into either the online or on-campus registration system and cancel your original registration and select a new date and/or time.

Study Guides

  • Sample questions for the placement test, including a few from each of arithmetic, various levels of algebra, and trigonometry, are available for download.
  • An Elementary Algebra self-study course is available at  Create an account and enroll using course ID 24502 and enrollment key StudyNow! (including the exclamation point).
  • Free textbooks, some with accompanying MyOpenMath self-study courses, are available at the
  • High school algebra text and math teachers.
  • Review books for various areas covered can be purchased at most bookstores.

Areas Covered

The algebra level test material includes: working with integer and rational exponents, factoring algebraic expressions, working with polynomials, working with radical and rational expressions, solving linear and algebraic equations and inequalities in one variable, solving quadratic equations, finding the equation of a line, graphing linear functions, solving problems involving ratios and proportions, and solving word problems associated with the given material.

The precalculus level test material includes working with polynomial, rational, exponential and logarithmic functions and their graphs, solving equations with these functions, and trigonometry.


Statistically, unless an extensive review takes place between the two tests, students tend to perform at the same level both times.  If you really feel that your performance was a fluke, you may retest one time.


Email with any questions or concerns.