To avoid delays, please scroll through the information below before contacting us, as most of your questions will be answered here. 

What is math placement?

We want to ensure that students are successful and prepared for the math courses in which they are enrolled. To do this, CU Boulder combines test scores with previous experience to place students in the appropriate course. This math placement is relevant only for students wishing to take Precalculus or Calculus 1 classes.

Who needs a math placement score?

Many CU Boulder math courses do not require a prerequisite or prior math experience, so a math placement is not relevant. Students who choose to take calculus, or those pursuing majors that require calculus, will become eligible to enroll in calculus-related courses based on an appropriate placement. These courses include the following:

Course Number

Course Title

APPM 1235

Precalculus for Engineers

APPM 1340

Calculus 1 with Algebra (Part 1 of 2 in a year-long calculus sequence)

APPM 1350

Calculus 1 for Engineers

ECON 1088

Math Tools for Economists II

MATH 1071

Finite Math for Social Science and Business

MATH 1150

Precalculus Mathematics

MATH 1300

Calculus 1

MATH 1310

Calculus, Systems, and Modeling

MATH 1330

Calculus for Economics and the Social Sciences

How is my math placement determined?

Students planning to enroll in precalculus or calculus 1 (but not calculus 2) will be asked to take an online math readiness test. Your math placement will be determined by the readiness test score and other information including high school transcripts and previous CU Boulder or other college-level coursework. We have found this background information on a student's academic experience to be a good predictor of success in precalculus and calculus courses. 


I’m taking AP Calculus; will that qualify me for college-level Calculus?

Simply taking the course won't guarantee placement into calculus. However, an AP score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam will make you eligible to enroll in Calculus at CU Boulder.

I took AP Calculus; why should I take the math placement test?

Even if you took AP Calculus, you should still take the math placement test now. AP scores could be delayed, so scoring well on the math placement test will make you eligible for Calculus when it's time to enroll in your classes. In addition, even if you do not score well on the math readiness test, a 4 or 5 on AP Calculus will still allow you to enroll in Calculus later on; math readiness test scores do not cancel out your AP score. 

How do I get a math placement score; where do I find it?

Students who complete the Math Readiness Test will receive a math placement within 3 business days. Students can view their placement results in Canvas under "Grades" or by going to Buff Portal Advising

What if I don't have a math placement?

You will need to take the online math readiness test. Your math placement will be posted within 3 business days. If you have submitted the appropriate test and you still don't see a placement in Canvas Grades, contact using your email address and include your name and student ID.

Are there different readiness tests to qualify for different calculus classes?

There is a single test which will produce one of three possible placements: Calculus, Precalculus, or Not Calculus/Precalculus. Students planning to enroll in Calculus 1 must complete all 40 multiple choice questions. Students planning to enroll in Precalculus may submit the test after answering the first 20 questions, if they so choose. It's important that you review the prep materials prior to taking the readiness test!

What topics are covered?

The test includes questions on algebra, analytic geometry, trigonometry, exponentials, logarithms, and other topics. For students planning to enroll in Precalculus, the first half of the Math Readiness Test includes questions on algebra and analytic geometry. We recommend working through practice problems in the study materials before taking these tests.

What does it mean if my placement is “not calc/precalc eligible"?

If you did not achieve the score you need for precalculus or calculus, you can take a proctored math placement test. It is vital that you study and prepare for this last attempt to improve your placement!

As a last resort, we recommend contacting your advisor to discuss your options.


Can my placement ever change?

For subsequent semester math enrollment, students can attempt the proctored placement test offered during the semester. 

If you have completed the Math Readiness Test and would like to improve your math placement, you can take the proctored math placement test. Please remember to review the study materials carefully prior to attempting this proctored retake. Please see our section on how to prepare

As a last resort, we recommend contacting your advisor to discuss your options.

What if my math placement score is low but I believe I have the math skills necessary for calculus or pre-calculus?

You must show your proficiency through the Math Readiness Test or the proctored placement test.

What if I think I'm prepared for Calculus 2 or 3?

The placement test is used to determine placement into precalculus or calculus 1 only. Qualified students interested in registering for a higher level math course should consult their academic advisors.

When should I take the placement test?

Incoming and continuing students should take the Math Readiness Test as soon as possible; delays can narrow your options for improving your score and registering for the classes you need. We recommend reviewing the study materials before taking the test.

For how long are my math placement exam scores valid?

Results remain valid for one year.

How can I prepare for the placement test?

Please see our section on how to prepare

Whom should I contact if I have a disability or impairment that prevents or impairs me taking the test?

If you need disability accommodations please contact, call 303-492-8671, or visit Disability Services in the Center for Community, N200. After receiving your accommodation letter, contact if you need extended time to take either test.

Are the tests timed?

Yes. Students have 60 minutes to complete the test. Students needing to document a disability and receive extra time should contact or call 303-492-8671 or visit Disability Services in the Center for Community, N200 prior to requesting extra time. After receiving your accommodation letter, contact if you need extended time for either test.

May I use a calculator when I take the test?

No calculators, computers, cell phones or other electronic devices are permitted. No other aids will be permitted.

May I ask for help understanding the questions during the exam?


What if my placement score placed me into the class I wanted?

If the math placement qualifies you for the class you wanted, the registration system will automatically allow you to register for the course as soon as your results are posted.


I did not place into the class I wanted; can I take it anyway?

No. A strong math foundation is crucial for your success in calculus courses. Our research has found that students placed into a class for which they are not adequately prepared are not likely to do well, a scenario which could delay satisfactory progression and graduation.

I did not place into the class I wanted; what do I do now?

If you did not achieve the desired placement, you may take the Proctored Math Placement Test to try and improve your placement. This test will be available shortly before the start of each semester. As a last resort, we recommend contacting your advisor to discuss your options.


I can't take the proctored retake; what now?

If you can't take the proctored retake, email to discuss your options.

What do I do if I'm having technical difficulties?

For any technical difficulties, email

I did not pass my CU Precalculus course. May I take the math placement test to qualify for Calculus 1?

No. Students who take a CU precalculus course and earn a grade below C- must retake the course in order to qualify for Calculus 1; they are not eligible to qualify by taking a math placement test.  Students who have not completed a precalculus course at CU (including those who withdraw from Precalculus) may attempt to qualify for Calculus by taking the Math Readiness Test.

I missed the test deadline! What now?

You may still be able to take the proctored placement test, offered shortly before the start of each semester. However, there will be limited seat availability in many of the Calculus sections, and some sections will no longer be available. Don't delay!

I took the ALEKS placement. Is that still valid?

As of February 15, 2017 CU Boulder discontinued using the ALEKS score for math placement. Those scores are no longer valid. It is highly recommended that you take the proctored math placement exam to measure your current math skills and readiness for calculus.

Help! I still have questions!

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