Calculus Placement Test

Purpose

The Calculus Placement Test is designed to help students who want or need to take an introductory calculus class determine the most appropriate course to take. The Mathematics Department strives to provide the best possible advice to students about course selection. Choosing an appropriate calculus course will lead to a more successful and less stressful start to the semester. The Calculus Placement Test is designed to provide you, your advisor(s), and the Mathematics faculty with important information about your preparation for introductory calculus at Saint Michael's. We offer two options for introductory calculus:

  • Elements of Calculus (MA 130) - a course intended primarily as a terminal calculus course providing a one semester overview of some key single variable calculus concepts and applications.
  • Calculus I (MA 150) - the first course in our calculus sequence, required by a variety of majors including mathematics, most sciences, engineering, and more.

Credit cannot be given for both MA 130 and MA 150, so it is important to select the correct introductory calculus course based on your major, your results on the Calculus Placement Test, your mathematics background, and your interests.

Who should take the Calculus Placement Test?

In short, anyone who may want or need to take an introductory calculus course at Saint Michael's must take the test.  This includes anyone majoring in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, or Pre-Pharmacy.  Exploratory majors with an interest in the natural and mathematical sciences also need to take the test.  In addition, anyone preparing for medical, veterinary, dental, or pharmaceutical school needs to take the test. If you are unsure whether you should take the test, please contact Krisan Geary at kgeary3@smcvt.edu or 802.654.2773 for more information.

When should I take the test?

You should take the test as soon as possible so you can use the feedback from the Mathematics Department to select an appropriate class. The test should be taken before you register for a calculus class.

If you do not take the test before registering for a calculus class, you will be required to do so prior to the first day of classes. If the test indicates that you have selected a class that is not appropriate for you, it may be necessary to modify your schedule, sometimes drastically, to accommodate a different mathematics class. This can be avoided if you simply take the test prior to registration!

To Take the Test:

How do I take the test? (You need to read this first!)

The test will be administered using WebAssign, an online homework system used in some of our calculus courses at Saint Michael's.

  1. Open the link http://www.webassign.net in a new tab or in a new window so that you can refer to these instructions.
  2. At the top of the WebAssign home page click ENTER CLASS KEY.
  3. Enter the Class Key smcvt 8193 6681. Students needing extended time on tests should contact Krisan Geary at kgeary3@smcvt.edu or 802.654.2773 for a Class Key.
  4. After you have entered the Class Key, you will be prompted to set up a username and password. Enter your Saint Michael's email address where it asks for your email address, and use the last seven digits of your Saint Michael's ID Number (ignoring the 80 or any letters) for the Student ID.
  5. Once you log in to the testing site, you will be prompted to either continue your trial period (which is free), to purchase an access code, or to enter an online access code. You should not purchase anything - there is no fee associated with taking the Calculus Placement Test. Please select "continue my trial period" and then click "Continue".
  6. WebAssign will automatically run a check of your computer system to verify that you have all of the necessary plug-ins to support the Calculus Placement Test. If you are missing any pieces of software, WebAssign will alert you to this, and will provide a link to the necessary downloads. For more information about the system requirements, please visit http://www.webassign.net/user_support/student/system_requirements.html.
  7. Please spend some time working on the untimed Practice Test before you take the actual Calculus Placement Test. Both the Practice Test and the Calculus Placement Test are comprised primarily of free response questions so you should, at the very least, use the practice test to get comfortable entering answers in WebAssign. You should try your absolute best so that your end results are an accurate reflection of your mathematical abilities. There are lots of supports available in the Practice Test including opportunities to read about the concepts, watch a video in which a similar problem is worked out step by step (available on some problems), and/or practice a similar version of the problem. In addition, you will have several tries on each problem on the Practice Test. These supports will not be available on the actual test, and you will have only two tries on each question.
  8. And finally…when you are ready to take the test, be sure that you have an hour of uninterrupted time because once the test is opened, it is NOT possible to pause or logout and come back to it later. Make sure that you have plenty of paper and a pen or pencil available. You should not use, and will not need, a calculator on the test. Since the test is meant to measure your preparation for calculus, you should take the test independently with no help from outside resources, such as books, notes, people, etc. You can only take the actual Placement Test once, so please make sure that you have done everything you can to prepare for it. Good luck!!!

If you have any problems accessing the test, try another browser. If you are using Internet Explorer, try Firefox, and vice versa. If you are still having difficulty accessing the test, please contact Krisan Geary at kgeary3@smcvt.edu or by phone at 802.654.2773.

After you've taken the test:

What happens with my results?

After completing the test, you will be able to able to view your results. These results will help you identify any concepts that you may wish to review before taking introductory calculus. Your results will be evaluated by the Mathematics Department and we will send feedback to you at your Saint Michael's email address.

What course(s) might be recommended based on my results on the Placement Test?

Math 104-Precalculus (full class)/Math 105-Precalculus (half class): One of these courses may be recommended if you need or want to take one of our introductory calculus courses but the test indicates that you do not have a sufficiently strong mathematical foundation to be successful in introductory calculus.  These courses provide individually customized reviews of high school mathematics topics and foundational concepts needed for introductory calculus. MA 104 is a full course that covers more topics in greater depth than MA 105, which is a half course. Registration for these courses requires the permission of the instructor.  To discuss the possibility of taking either the full course MA 104 or the half course MA 105 contact the instructor, Krisan Geary (802.654.2773 or kgeary3@smcvt.edu).  These courses do NOT fulfill the LSC Quantitative Reasoning Requirement and should only be taken by students that will subsequently take a calculus course.

Math 130-Elements of Calculus: A stand-alone one-semester introductory course, MA 130 is designed for students who do not want to take more advanced mathematics courses and who do not plan mathematically-intensive majors but require some basic knowledge about the concepts and applications of calculus.  The course covers the derivative and integral, along with a variety of applications such as exponential growth, straight-line motion (velocity-acceleration), marginal cost/profit, and optimization. Students should generally have completed a pre-calculus course or have the equivalent mathematical experience.  It is appropriate for many students with majors in Biology and Economics as well as students seeking to satisfy the LSC Quantitative Reasoning Requirement.  Credit will not be given for both MA 130 Elements of Calculus and MA 150 Calculus I. Math 130 Elements of Calculus does not lead into Calculus I, II, or III, so it should not be taken by students who plan to take higher-level mathematics courses.

Math 150-Calculus I: The first course of the "scientific" calculus sequence, MA 150 covers theory and applications of the derivative and the integral, including the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, area and volume problems. MA 150 assumes a strong preparation in pre-calculus. Specifically, students should be comfortable with the concept of a function, limits, and continuity, as the course begins with derivatives. A basic acquaintance with the derivative is helpful, but not necessary.  It is appropriate for students majoring in Mathematics, Physics, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Engineering; mathematically inclined students majoring in Biology or Economics; students who may wish to pursue a minor in mathematics, and other students seeking to satisfy the LSC Quantitative Reasoning Requirement.  Credit will not be given for both MA 130 Elements of Calculus and MA 150 Calculus I.

Previous Calculus Experience

If you scored high enough on the AP Calculus exam, you will receive credit for one or more of our introductory calculus courses (typically, MA 130 or MA 150 depending on your score), and are strongly encouraged to register for a higher level calculus course, generally MA 160 Calculus II.  If you do not know your AP score, or if your score was not high enough to receive credit for an introductory calculus class, you should still take the Calculus Placement Test.

If you have taken a rigorous Calculus course that covered both differentiation and integration but did not earn AP or college credit, you should take the Calculus Placement Test and may wish to consider registering for MA 160 Calculus II. Discuss this with your advisor at registration.

Questions or Concerns?

If you have any questions about accessing the Calculus Placement Test or about which introductory mathematics course you should take at Saint Michael's, please contact Mathematics Instructor/Quantitative Skills Coordinator Krisan Geary at kgeary3@smcvt.edu  or at 802.654.2773.

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