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

The computer-based exam, devised by the SCSU Math department, is a 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 usually takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete.  However, there is NO TIME LIMIT.  Placement results are provided immediately upon finishing the exam.

Taking the Placement

Currently, the placement exam must be taken on campus.  In the future, it may be offered online. 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

Please Bring with You

Please bring with you a photo ID and a writing utensil. No personal calculators are permitted.

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.