UC Davis Mathematics

Math Placement Requirement (MPR)

The Mathematics Placement Exam determines your level of preparation for college-level math courses offered at UC Davis. All students who register in MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M are required to take the Mathematics Placement Exam. Students enrolled in Mathematics 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M without satisfying the required minimum scores will be administratively dropped from the course by the mathematics department after the end of the last testing session for that particular quarter. There are no exemptions for SAT, AP, or IB scores, as well as math coursework taken at another institution. 

Please note that if you take MAT 12, you still need to take the Math Placement again after passing MAT 12 before you can continue on to MAT 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M.

Math Placement Examination

The Math Placement Examination is only available online. There will be two testing sessions per quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring), and a student may only take it once per testing session. As with any exam, if you need special accommodations due to a disability, please contact the UC Davis Student Disabilities Center.

Students enrolled in MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, and 21M  who do not meet the Math Placement Requirement (MPR) before the testing periods will be notified via email regarding when they will be able to take the exam.

Spring Quarter 2020

Math Placement Exam sessions for Spring Quarter are open to all students. If you are registered in MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M and have not taken the placement exam, or did not received a qualifying score for the course you are registered in, you will be automatically registered in the testing session listed below:

Spring Quarter Testing Session 1 - March 10 - March 17
Begins at 11 AM on March 10 and ends at 11 AM on March 17
Spring Quarter Testing Session 2 - March 30 - April 7
Begins at 11 AM on March 30 and ends at 11 AM on April 7

If you are not currently enrolled in one of these courses but would like to register to take this exam, fill out our manual registration form.

Spring Quarter Testing Session 1 Submit manual registration request from March 10 at 11 AM until March 16 at 11 AM
Spring Quarter Testing Session 2 Submit manual registration request from March 30 at 11 AM until April 6 at 11 AM

For more information about the online math placement exam, please refer to our Math Placement Exam FAQ webpage.

Staff assistance during the testing sessions is only available during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 9:00a-4:00p. Should you require help, please contact us at placementhelp@math.ucdavis.edu.

Current Requirements

You must satisfy the MPR if you wish to enroll in MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A or 21M as outlined in the following table:

Math Placement Exam
Total Score
MAT 12
25 or more   -------------
30 or more with 2 or more
30 or more with 2 or more
35 or more with 3 or more
MAT 21M *
40 or more with 3 or more

* MAT 21M: You should only consider taking MAT 21M if you received a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam (or a 6 or 7 in IB Mathematics), have a qualifying placement exam score, and are interested in a class that is more abstract and rigorous. Check with your major adviser before registering.

Students enrolled in one of the above classes without satisfying the MPR will be administratively dropped from the course no matter what anyone else, including an adviser or an instructor, may have told them. No exceptions to this policy are permitted.

Note that the above cut-off points are MINIMUM TOTAL SCORES. If you fail to earn a score that places you into MAT 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M , you should seriously consider enrolling in MAT 12 to strengthen your algebraic and trigonometric skills prior to taking calculus. This is particularly important if you feel that you are weak in these areas and not merely "a bit rusty" with your basic math skills.

The effects of improper placement in a mathematics class can be difficult to reverse. If you score below 25, you should consult with your major adviser to discuss your options, including the possibility of registering in a Workload course (WLD 055M) or other college-level mathematics course such as MAT B (Elementary Algebra) or MAT C (Trigonometry).

What if my score does not qualify me for my course?

Please refer to our FAQ item if you did not obtain a qualifying score for your course. https://www.math.ucdavis.edu/undergrad/math_placement/exam_faq/#next_steps

Preparation Tips

Study guides are provided by the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Center and can be viewed here:

Also, the following contains explanations and practice exercises that cover most of the topics that you will be tested on, including Rational Expressions, Polynomials, Functions, Word Problems, Trigonometry, and Linear Equations and Inequalities:

Lastly, the Math Department in cooperation with the Center for Educational Effectiveness at UCD is running a program for incoming students in summer 2019. We invite students to use online adaptive learning software - called ALEKS - to help prepare for precalculus and calculus courses at UC Davis, as well as the Math Placement Exam. Studies from our last year’s study showed that the usage of ALEKS has a positive impact on students’ enrollment in math courses. Also, studies at other institution have shown that ALEKS can help students perform significantly better. As part of the program, we will record and analyze students' performance to continue to assess the effectiveness of ALEKS.

Students will not receive credit, and participation will not waive the MPE requirements. ALEKS will cost students $20. However, students with financial need can and should request a fee waiver.

Email mathaleks@ucdavis.edu to sign up to participate in the program or for general inquiries. Please sign up only following instructions provided from this email address and not directly at the ALEKS site.