Math Placement Exam FAQs

Q: I am really excited about coming to UMaine, but I’m confused about the math placement exam. What is it, anyway?

A: Like most universities, UMaine uses a math placement exam to determine which of UMaine’s math courses line up best with your math skills. It is an online exam in three parts. We have prepared a video to help explain what it is, and what you should do to take it, so if you haven’t watched it already, please do. You can find it here (add link).


Q: I’m not sure whether I have to do the math placement exam. Do I?

A: Many majors at UMaine have specific math requirements, and usually this means you have to do the placement exam. Have you watched our video about the exam yet? If not, then please do so. If you have, and you still have questions then keep reading…


Q: I passed part two of the exam, but I’m really not comfortable with math, and I don’t really want to take MAT 122. Do I have to, because I passed part 2?

A: No. You can take any math course that requires part one or part two, but you you aren’t required to take a class just because you passed that part of the exam (although your major may require specific math class). Similarly, although you can’t take MAT 126 – Calculus I classes unless you pass part three, just because you *do* pass it doesn’t mean you can’t choose to take MAT 122 – Precalculus first, if you prefer.


Q: I already took a math placement exam for another school. Can I use that instead of doing the UMaine one?

A: No, sorry. Different schools have slightly different classes, and different placement requirements, and therefore use different placement exams. Our exam is the best one we have found for placing our students most effectively.


Q: I am really interested in math, science and engineering. Do I need to do the exam?

A: Most STEM majors require several semesters of math, usually starting with our calculus sequence. If you are coming to UMaine straight from high school and you are interested in STEM then you probably want to take MAT 126 – Calculus I as an incoming student. To do so you will need to pass part three of the placement exam. If you do not pass part three then you will take either MAT 122 – Precalculus (if you pass part two) or MAT 111- Algebra for College Math (if you pass part one but not part 2). Taking one of these other classes first is fine, it just means you’ll take a little longer to complete your math requirements, and it is much better to get into the right class for you than to get into a class that you are not prepared for and do poorly in it.


Q: I really don’t want to take all the calculus sequence, and I am in some doubt about what major I might choose. I am uncomfortable with math, although I think I may need to take some of the classes you’re talking about. What should I do about the exam?

A: You should take it. This way when you arrive on campus you and your advisor will have more information about what math classes are an option for you, and registration will be easier. Also, there is no downside to taking it, and finding out more about your preparation for math classes may help you choose a major.


Q: I don’t know what my major will be, and I don’t think I want to take all that math. What other options are there?

A: Many majors in business or social or life sciences require MAT 115 – Applied Math for Business and Economics or 116 – Introduction to Calculus, which require part two of the placement exam but not part three. Other majors, such as English or Philosophy, have no specific math requirements beyond the Quantitative Literacy General Education requirement. Taking the exam can’t hurt you, so why not take it and see how you do?


Q: Oh! There’s a version of calculus that only requires part 2, not part 3? Can I take it instead of MAT 126 – Calculus 1?

A: We offer both MAT 126 – Calculus I and MAT 116 – Introduction to Calculus. Which one you should take depends on your major, so you should ask in the department (or college) that offers it. Generally, if you intend to study a STEM field you probably need MAT 126.


Q: NO! NO! I *really* don’t want to do any math. Do I *really* have to do the exam?

A: All students have to take six credits of Quantitative Literacy General Education to graduate from UMaine. We offer:

  • MAT 101 – Nature and Language of Mathematics;
  • MAT 103 – Algebraic Models in our World;
  • STS 232 – Principles of Statistical Inference,

any of which can be taken without taking the placement exam, and many students in the liberal arts take two of these. However, taking the exam can’t hurt you, so why not give it a go? You may surprise yourself, and be able to take something different that fits your interests better.


Q: I have already been studying at another college/university, and I have already taken math there. Do I need to take the exam?

A: The short answer is that this depends on how the math classes you have taken elsewhere will transfer here.


Q: So what’s the long answer?

A: Credits from other institutions sometimes transfer to UMaine as equivalent to one of our classes, and sometimes transfer in as elective credit. If you have already passed a class that transfers to UMaine as equivalent to one of our classes then you do not need to take the corresponding part of our placement exam. For example, if you had a class that transfers to UMaine as MAT 111 with a grade of C or better then you can take MAT 122 and do not need to take part 2 of the placement exam to do so.


Q: That sounds really confusing… How can I tell if it applies to me?

A: It *is* confusing, because students transfer to UMaine with so many different transcripts, from so many different colleges and universities, that it is impossible to give a simple answer that explains all cases. To know more about your personal transfer credit situation please contact Student Records.


Q: Will this all get done in time for me to register in the classes I want?

A: We do our best to get transfer credits processed as quickly as we can, but it can sometimes take a while. So it is best to start early with your request. And remember that taking the placement exam has no downside, so it may be best to do it anyway, to leave you with options if your transfer credit is delayed, or if you do not get the equivalence you were hoping for.


Q: I’m taking AP calculus. Do I still have to do the exam?

A: A score of 3 or more on AP calculus will give credit for MAT 126, which makes the exam irrelevant. So you don’t *have* to take the exam. However many students who are not confident about their understanding of calculus choose to take MAT 126 anyway, and if you want to register before the AP scores are in then you will need to take the exam. Of course, if you are taking AP calculus then the exam will probably not be too challenging for you, so why not take it?


Q: I’ve taken the exam online, and it said I passed, but it still appears on my “to do” list and I can’t register for classes. Why? What do I do?

A: It can take up to 48 hours for scores to get completely processed by the system, so please be patient. If more time than that has passed and the problem still hasn’t been solved, please contact admissions.


Q: OK, I’ve read this whole FAQ, and I still haven’t found the answer to my question. Who should I contact?

A: For all technical queries about how to take the exam online please contact IT Help at 207.581.2506. If your question is about which class you should take please contact the department office that offers your intended major. If your question is about the mathematical content of the exam, please contact the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at 207.581.3901.