Math Placement & FAQ

Mathematics & Statistics Department


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1. How do I know my math placement at UMD?

Placement is done primarily through students' mathematics scores on the ACT test. The mathematics department has researched UMD student success in mathematics courses based on many factors and the mathematics ACT score was found to be the most significant predictor. Our placement is based on the findings of this study. Students who can provide evidence that they are incorrectly placed may contact the SCSE student advising staff at scsesa@d.umn.edu, or 218-726-7585

2. How do I get into a course that is full by the time I register?

Once a class fills the only means of getting the permission number needed for the registration process is to add your name to the online wait list. Individual instructors do not have permission numbers.

3. What are the materials needed for my class?

This may vary from instructor to instructor. Some instructors choose to use online homework systems or personal response systems (clickers). It would be best to contact your instructor or wait for the first day of class to receive a course syllabus. Some instructors have course web pages and you can find a copy of the syllabus there, perhaps even ahead of time.

4. Will I need a graphing calculator for my math or statistics class?

There is no graphing calculator requirement for mathematics or statistics courses at UMD. Some instructors allow the use of calculators on exams and other instructors do not. You can certainly get through math courses without a graphing calculator, but most students have one. We recommend the TI-83 (or another brand with equivalent features). If you are a physics, math, chemistry, engineering, or computer science major, you might want to consider the TI-84 plus. You can compare all of TI's calculators on their web site. Remember, there are some calculators that are not allowed in some classes.

5. Where can I purchase the required materials?

All books can be purchased at the UMD bookstore. The UMD bookstore also sells calculators. You can, however, make purchases elsewhere. If you choose to purchase your books elsewhere, be sure to pay attention to the ISBN number used for the course. You may want to check the price of packaged material at the bookstore (e.g., textbooks with bundled solutions manuals or online homework) since these may be a savings for your specific course needs.

6. How can I be successful at a mathematics course?

There are a few key things required to be successful. Students must have a study plan and follow it. This plan may depend on the student. Some may benefit from studying with others, while some may learn more studying alone. Regardless, there are some common elements to successful study plans. Attend every session, don't fall behind, and work lots of problems. A sample study plan might look like this:

  • Attend class.
  • Later that day, re-read class notes.
  • Read the section in the textbook (and work examples as you are reading).
  • Try the odd numbered problems. Try the even numbered problems.
  • Memorize any formulas that need to be memorized.
  • Try to summarize the concepts (the point of the section, the how to do things, the why you do things that way, what things mean). Then, go back and review previous sections. Do this between every lecture.

Not everyone will need to do all of the above, but for those that find mathematics difficult, following the above steps will go a long way in helping you succeed.

7. What if I need help?

There is an excellent tutoring center on campus. If your course is a large lecture, you should be attending recitation and asking questions. In addition, your recitation leader holds office hours. You can go to his/her office and ask questions. Also, your professor holds office hours. Be aware that you will get much further with office hour help if you have tried to help yourself first. Asking, "I see how to get from here to here, but why does this next step follow?" rather than saying "I don't understand any of this," makes a world of difference in getting effective help.

8. What can I do if my algebra is weak?

We offer a college algebra course, Math 1005, at UMD. If you place into it, you are required to take it. If you place above it, but feel your algebra is weak, you might want to take it. Also, we offer another choice for you. We offer a 1-credit algebra review course, Math 1007, which is taught online. This course will cover: set/interval/inequality notation; exponents, radicals and rational exponents; factoring; rational expressions; rationalizing denominators; solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities; and absolute value equations and inequalities. You may register for this course online. Please contact Kate Niedzielski at jedli008@d.umn.edu or (218) 726-7852 for more information.

9. How do I test out of a mathematics course?

It is possible to test out of a mathematics course. Basically, one takes the final in that course, and if you pass it with a C or above, you have tested out. You will have to pay a $50 per credit fee in advance in order to take the test. It is best to go to the Math Department Office (SCC 140) and ask about the possibility of taking a test for credit before doing anything else. If you are told that it is possible, then fill out the paperwork at the Student Assistance Center, SCC 23.

10. What should I be doing in high school to prepare for college mathematics?

The biggest thing you can do to help yourself is take mathematics courses every semester of every year you are in high school. Traditional mathematics courses, like algebra, trig, precalculus, and geometry, are especially important. It is not so important to take calculus in high school. It is more important to make sure you have solid algebraic skills.