Math Placement

Missouri S&T Math Placement

Missouri S&T requires new undergraduate students to take Math Placement Exams in Algebra and Trigonometry.  These online exams were written by the Department of Mathematics & Statistics can be taken at the student's convenience; however the first attempt must be completed at least 14 days prior to a student's Advising & Registration (A&R) or Transfer Advising Day.  Each exam may be taken at most three times, and the highest score is used to determine placement.

Importance of Math Placement

Mathematics is taught with different standards and expectations in nearly every high school or college. Our Math Placement Exams provide a student with a better sense of their strengths in math relative to other S&T students. By guiding students to the correct math course based upon S&T’s standards, we ensure that students are best positioned for success in their first semester. To provide an accurate reflection of a student’s preparedness, the exam should be taken seriously and completed without outside sources for help (friends/family, internet searches, apps, textbooks, notes, etc.).

A student who reaches a higher first math courses through dishonest means will often struggle through their time at S&T, and often does not graduate quickly.  Our goal is to find the best course for a student's current level of knowledge, not to artificially achieve the highest possible placement.

The Algebra Placement Exam is 30 questions.  The student has 60 minutes to complete this exam, and no calculator may be used on the Algebra portion.

The Trigonometry Placement Exam is 25 questions.  The student has 60 minutes to complete this exam, and scientific calculators are allowed on the Trig portion.  Graphing calculators are not permitted.  In order to take this exam, the student must first complete the Algebra exam and show at least 80% mastery.

Both exams are multiple choice/short answer.  You will receive a separate score on each portion.

The Math Placement Exams become available on October 15th for spring semester students and on December 15th for fall semester students.  They may be taken at any time after a student registers for an Advising & Registration or Transfer Advising Day.  The exams must be completed at least two weeks prior to a student's Advising & Registration or Transfer Advising Day so advisors have sufficient time to review records and prepare to make scheduling recommendations.

If a student is currently taking an algebra or trigonometry course, it is beneficial to see as much content as possible before testing.  These students should wait to test, but still complete their exams at least two weeks prior to their event date.

If a student is currently taking a course higher than algebra or trig, or if the student is not currently taking any mathematics course, it is beneficial to test earlier while algebra and trig skills are still more fresh in the student's mind.

In either case, devoting additional study time to prepare for the Math Placement Exams is strongly encouraged.

Calculator use is NOT allowed on the Algebra Placement Exam.  If a student regularly uses a calculator for simple arithmetic, this practice will end up slowing the student down drastically as the student moves further into their studies.  In addition, the student will not develop essential estimation skills.

Use of a scientific (not graphic) calculator IS allowed on the Trigonometry Placement Exam.  This is due to the nature of a few particular applied problems included on the exam.

It is not at all unusual for math courses at a university to not allow the use of calculators in courses at the level of the Calculus sequence and below.  Many calculators these days can perform rather complicated tasks like differentiation and integration of functions and row reduction of matrices.  These are skills that students must learn to perform by hand in order to (1) show their understanding of how and why these processes work, and (2) be able to move on to higher level mathematics, science, and engineering.  Once a student learns these basic ideas, they WILL be allowed the use of a calculator in their applied courses in science and engineering.  Calculators use is allowed, and in fact, encouraged, in applied courses since actual values are used in problems in these areas, and actual values can be messy.

On math exams at S&T in most courses, the instructor will carefully set up the problems so that no calculator is needed at all, nor will one even  be useful.  We don’t ask students to do tedious arithmetic on a Calculus exam, since that is not what is being taught. 

Calculators are VERY useful, of course, especially in applied problems as the student moves into their specialty area.  But in the Calculus sequence and below, students are developing their basic understanding of concepts, and calculators are generally not of much use for that.  And at the worst, calculator use can prevent a student from learning the very skills they need to move forward.

Our goal is identifying the appropriate first math course to ensure your short-term and long-term success.  To achieve this goal, we need an accurate reflection of your current skill set.  Ultimately, this is the best way to minimize stress and to progress efficiently towards graduation.

There are many good websites which provide free problems and even tutorials, and certainly any textbook with "College Algebra" in the title can be helpful.  Please begin by focusing mostly on algebra problems, and if these all seem solid, move on to trigonometry if you have previously taken a trig course.  If you have not yet taken trig, don't try to learn it all at once!  Just focus on algebra.  There will be additional opportunities to show mastery of trig through various optional summer programs.

After taking each portion of the Math Placement Exams for the first time, a personalized study plan will become available to help you practice skills and improve your scores on subsequent attempts.

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics recommends the student spends at least eight hours studying and practicing problems prior to taking the Math Placement Exams.

If a student has a college transcript that already shows credit earned (not currently enrolled or in-progress) for a course equivalent to S&T's Math 1215: Calculus for Engineers II, they may be exempted from the Math Placement Exams.  Additionally, students majoring in History or English are not required to test.  Please reach out to New Student Programs at pro@mst.edu or by phone at 800-266-9035 to discuss.

After signing up for an Advising & Registration or a Transfer Advising Day and paying your enrollment fees, full instructions for taking the Math Placement Exams in Canvas will be sent to you via email.

You will receive your scores and course placement immediately upon completion of your Math Placement Exams.  A copy of your scores is sent to New Student Programs and to the Registrar's office.  New Student Programs provides your scores and placement to academic advisors prior to Advising & Registration and Transfer Advising Days.

A summary of course placements is below:

  • Algebra score of 0-11.9 out of 30:  Math 1103: Fundamentals of Algebra
  • Algebra score of 12-17.9 out of 30:  Math 1120: College Algebra
  • Algebra score of 18-23.9 out of 30:  Math 1210:  Calculus IA
  • Algebra score of 24-30 out of 30; Trig score of 0-14.9 out of 25:  Math 1210:  Calculus IA
  • Algebra score of 24-30 out of 30; Trig score of 15-25 out of 25:  Math 1214:  Calculus for Engineers I, or higher with prerequisite credit

Each student may take the S&T Math Placement Exams up to 3 times.  The student must acieve mastery at 80% or higher on the Algebra Placement Exam before the Trigonometry Placement Exam will become available.  The student's highest scores will be the final placement honored by the academic advisor.  There is generally no benefit to re-taking the Math Placement Exams immediately upon completing a prior attempt.  Taking additional time to study will result in the biggest improvement in scores from one attempt to another, and a personalized "My Study Plan" will appear in Canvas after the first attempt at each portion to aid in your studying and improvement.

If you have received testing accommodations in the past, please reach out to Student Disability Services at dss@mst.edu or by calling 573-341-6655 prior to taking the Math Placement Exams.  Once Student Disability Services confirms your eligibility for continued testing accommodations, they will contact the Department of Mathematics & Statistics to update your test.

If you have any issues with accessing the Math Placement Test, please contact Mike Pleimann, Assistant Director of New Student Programs at pleimann@mst.edu or (573) 341-7045.

For additional information about S&T's Math Placement process, please contact Mike Pleimann, Assistant Director of New Student Programs at pleimann@mst.edu or (573) 341-7045.