Math Placement

All students who register for courses at the University of Iowa must satisfy the prerequisites for those courses.  Prerequisites for all courses are listed on MyUI Courses.  Please see the CLAS Prerequisites Policy for more information.

For many mathematics courses, prerequisites are satisfied by earning the required grade in another math course OR by earning the required score on a math placement exam.

If the prerequisite for a course is another math course, only math courses taken at another college or university will be considered to satisfy the prerequisite.  High school math courses do not satisfy math course prerequisites. 

Placement Courses

The courses listed in the chart below allow a math placement score to satisfy the prerequisites for the course.  (Remember: students may also satisfy the prerequisite by taking an appropriate prerequisite course.)  Two different math placement tests are offered through the University of Iowa: the ALEKS math placement test and the Math Placement Test, Level 3 (MPT 3).  For each course, the placement test students should take to satisfy the prerequisite is listed.

Course

Math Placement Test Used
to Satisfy Prerequisite

MATH:1005 College Algebra ALEKS
MATH:1010 Trigonometry ALEKS
MATH:1020 Elementary Functions ALEKS
MATH:1120 Logic of Arithmetic ALEKS
MATH:1130 Theory of Arithmetic ALEKS or MPT 3
MATH:1140 Math Basis of Elementary Geometry ALEKS
MATH:1340 Mathematics for Business ALEKS
MATH:1380 Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business ALEKS or MPT 3
MATH:1440 Mathematics for the Biological Sciences ALEKS
MATH:1460 Calculus for the Biological Sciences ALEKS or MPT 3
MATH:1550 Engineering Math I ALEKS or MPT 3
MATH:1560 Engineering Math II MPT 3
MATH:1850 Calculus I ALEKS or MPT 3
MATH:1860 Calculus II MPT 3
MATH:2550 Engineering Math III MPT 3
MATH:2700 Introduction to Linear Algebra MPT 3

Placement Tests

There are two different math placement tests available to students: the ALEKS math placement test and the Math Placement Test, Level 3 (MPT 3).  Students should contact their advisors if they are unsure of which exam to take.

Students who have taken a calculus course either in high school or at another college or university should take the MPT 3 first.  Any student who takes the MPT 3 first and earns an 8 or lower should then take the ALEKS math placement test.

Students who have not previously taken a calculus course should take the ALEKS math placement test.

ALEKS

The ALEKS math placement test is used to place students into courses at or below MATH:1850 Calculus I, except MATH:1560 Engineering Math II.  Students entering the University of Iowa who have not previously taken a calculus course in high school or at another college or university should take the ALEKS math placement test before registering for a mathematics course.  Students who register for an ALEKS math placement test are entitled to 5 placement exams and 6 months of access to an ALEKS learning module. Students who took the ALEKS math placement test before May 1, 2013 took a previous version of the test; these students should contact their advisors about placement information.  More information about the ALEKS math placement test, including a link to take the test, is available at https://newstudents.uiowa.edu/aleks .

When students are admitted to the university, they are automatically granted access to the ALEKS math placement test.  Students can have their access to the ALEKS math placement tests or learning modules extended by sending an email to Cindy Farthing (cynthia-farthing@uiowa.edu).  Extensions may be requested for the following reasons:

  • When trying to log in to the ALEKS, a student receives a message that the course has expired or is asked for a course code to take the ALEKS math placement test.
  • A student has used all 5 placement tests and needs to take an additional test.
  • A student's 6-month access to the learning module has expired.

MPT 3

The Mathematics Placement Test, Level 3 (MPT 3) is for students who have previously taken a year or more of calculus course in high school or who have college credit for calculus.  The MPT 3 can be used for placement into calculus courses (MATH:1380, MATH:1460, MATH:1550, MATH:1850, or MATH:1860) and linear algebra courses (MATH:2550 or MATH:2700).  Students who earn an 8 or lower on the MPT 3 will be asked to take the ALEKS math placement test before registering for classes. The MPT 3 is the only math placement test that will indicate whether or not a student is prepared for MATH:1560 Engineering Math II, MATH:1860 Calculus II, MATH:2550 Engineering Math III or MATH:2700 Introduction to Linear Algebra.  More information about the MPT 3, including a link to take the test, is available at https://newstudents.uiowa.edu/mpt3.

Older Placement Tests

Students may have placement scores for the previous version of ALEKS (before May 1, 2013) or for the Math Placement Test, Level 1 or 2 (MPT 1, MPT 2).  If a student took a math placement exam more than one year ago and has not taken a university math course, the Mathematics Department strongly recommends that the student retake the appropriate math placement test.  (See Replacing Outdated Scores below.)

Course Recommendations

For minimum ALEKS scores required for courses at or below Calculus I, click here

The MPT 3 gives the following recommendations.

Score

Recommendation

0 - 8

Take the ALEKS math placement test.

9 - 14

MATH:1380 Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business
or MATH:1460 Calculus for the Biological Sciences
or MATH:1550 Engineering Math I
or MATH:1850 Calculus I

(Students should consult with their advisor to determine the appropriate course.)

15 - 20

MATH:1560 Engineering Math II
or MATH:1860 Calculus II
or MATH:2550 Engineering Math III
or MATH:2700 Linear Algebra

Students who took the MPT 1, MPT 2 or the previous version of ALEKS should contact their academic advisor to determine which courses they are eligible to take.  Course recommendations are listed on degree audits.

Mathematics Incentive Program (MIP)

Students who studied calculus in high school or elsewhere, but did not receive AP credit, or any other college credit for a calculus course should be able to start with Calculus II rather than repeating calculus.  That’s why the MIP was invented. Students who place into MATH:1860 Calculus II with a score of 15 or higher on the MPT3 and receive a grade of B or higher in the course will automatically receive 4 s.h. credits for Calculus I in addition to the credits earned for Calculus II.  The credit is ungraded but counts toward the hours required for graduation. MIP credit is counted as UI and CLAS residence credit. For more information, including addtional policies and how to apply for MIP credit, please see the CLAS MIP webpage.

Retesting

Students are encouraged to retake the placement test if they do not place into the course they want to take.  There is no fee to retake a placement test.  Once registered for an ALEKS math placement test, students have access to 5 placement test, so students can retake the ALEKS math placement test 4 times without requesting permission for additional tests.  Students may repeat the MPT3 once without special permission by emailing the ITS Help Desk. It is recommended that students spend some time reviewing material from previous courses before retesting.

Replacing Outdated Scores

Mathematics placement tests are the most accurate if they are taken soon before enrolling in a mathematics course.  Mathematics courses build on one another, and students who have not taken a mathematics course recently may find that they do not recall all of the material learned previously.  Therefore, students whose mathematics placement scores are older than one year are strongly encouraged to retake the appropriate mathematics placement test and review their mathematics skills before enrolling in a math course.

Waiver of Duplication or Regression

Students who have transfer or AP credit for a course at or above the course recommended by a mathematics placement test may be eligible to take the recommended course without being charged duplication or regression. 

Students who have credit for MATH:1850 or MATH:1860 and an ALEKS score above 75% must take the MPT 3 in order to determine whether duplication or regression may be waived.

If a student has transfer credit for a course two levels or more above their recommended placement, the student may enroll in an intermediate course.  Duplication/regression may be waived until the student completes a math course equivalent to the transfer credit.  However, it is recommended that the student retake the placement test first before determining which course to take.  For example, a student has transfer credit for Calculus I (MATH:1850) but the ALEKS math placement test recommends College Algebra (MATH:1005).  The student may take Elementary Functions (MATH:1020) and Calculus I (MATH:1850) and may have duplication/regression waived for both. (The student could also start with College Algebra and receive a waiver for regression for that course as well.)

Students who wish to be granted a waiver for duplication or regression should contact Cindy Farthing (cynthia-farthing@uiowa.edu).  The Department of Mathematics will then review the case and determine whether or not to grant a waiver of duplication or regression.

Mathematics Department Contacts

Dr. Cindy Farthing, Mathematics Placement Coordinator, cynthia-farthing@uiowa.edu.
Prof. Oguz Durumeric, Director of Undergraduate Studies, oguz-durumeric@uiowa.edu.

UI Evaluation and Examination Service Information

For detailed information about mathematics placement tests, including links to the ALEKS and MPT 3 tests, visit the New Student Services Math Placement page