Placement Exam Information



All students at Saint Mary’s College of California are required to take an appropriate mathematics course as part of their Core requirements and/or for their major. In order for you to be successful in your mathematics and science classes you need to be in a college level mathematics class for which you are prepared.

All incoming freshmen are required to take the Mathematics Placement Exam. Transfer students should also take the placement exam if they have yet to complete their mathematics requirements. The results of your exam as well as your high school background and your SAT mathematics score will determine your mathematics placement.You must take your mathematics placement exam by May 31st or off campus before May 21st at one of the testing centered listed below. If you take it at an approved off campus testing site there will be a fee, you must register 2 weeks before the exam. There is no fee for taking the placement exam at Saint Mary’s College campus at a date listed below. If you have a disability, please contact Jennifer Billeci, Director of Student Disability Services (SDS) at to discuss taking the exam in SDS.

Regardless of whether you are an incoming or returning student, if your initial placement does not qualify you for the math course you need to take, you may retake the placement exam only after taking a preparatory math course such as Math 2 or Math 12 at Saint Mary’s College.

  • Math 2: Math Readiness, is a preparatory course for Math 1, 3, or 4.
  • Math 12: Math Readiness for Calculus, is a preparatory course for Math 13.

Students may take an Intermediate algebra class instead of Math 2 or a Collge Algebra class instead of Math 12; these classes may not be online or hybrid classes. Any course taken at another institution must be approved by the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and it must be passed with a grade of C- or better. Students enrolled in Math 2 and Math 12 retake the Readiness Exam as part of the course.

Placement Levels and Registration Permission

Your placement level indicates the mathematics course in which you are prepared to succeed and therefore eligible to enroll.

  • Level 1: You may enroll in Math 2, 12, and 10 (subject to prerequisites)
  • Level 2: You may enroll in Math 1, 3, and 4 (as well as courses for Level 1)
  • Level 3: You may enroll in Math 13 (as well as courses for Level 1 and 2)
  • Level 4: You may enroll in Math 27 and CS 21 (as well as courses for Level 1, 2 and 3)

Returning Saint Mary’s students must obtain permission to register for courses in the Level 2, 3 and 4 placement. (Incoming students are placed in appropriate courses as part of the advising/orientation process).

Preparing for the Placement Exam

The Mathematics Placement exam is a 50-question multiple-choice exam. The exam is a paper and pencil, no calculator exam. You have 60 minutes to complete the exam. The exam covers Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Precalculus (including Trigonometry). If you wish to prepare for the Placement Exam, there are various self-help books available. Any SAT subject preparation book covers most of the topics on which you will be tested. These type books contain explanations and practice exams to help you. The following is a sample of typical questions that appear on the Placement exam. These questions should be done without the use of a calculator. The answers appear at the end of the set of questions.

The exam is given on campus in Galileo Hall. Bring a photo ID, your student ID number and a #2 pencil. Again, calculators are not allowed. Please arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled test time for instructions and distribution of testing materials.

On Campus Testing Dates:

Students may take the Placement Exam on Saint Mary’s Campus in Galileo Hall Room 201 on the following dates:

  • Saturday April 26, 2014, at 11:00-12:00 noon, 1:00-2:00 pm or 3:00-4:00 pm
  • Thursday May 1, 2014, at 1:00-2:00 pm or 4:30-5:30 pm
  • Saturday May 3, 2014, at 11:00-12:00 noon, 1:00-2:00 pm, or 3:00-4:00 pm
  • Saturday May 10, 2014, at 11:00-12:00 noon, 1:00-2:00 pm or 3:00-4:00 pm
  • Saturday May 17, 2014, at 9:00-10:00 am, 11:00-12:00 noon or 2:00-3:00 pm
  • Tuesday May 27, 2014, at 7:00-8:00 pm
  • Thursday May 29, 2014, at 5:00-6:00 pm
  • Saturday May 31, 2014, at 11:00-12:00 noon, 1:00-2:00pm or 3:00-4:00 pm

Off-Campus Testing

Please note that only entering students (freshmen and transfers) who have not yet taken any classes at Saint Mary’s College can take the Math Placement Exam at an offsite testing center.

To take the math placement exam at an off campus site please do the following:

  1. Look at the list off offsite testing centers below. If you live
    • in California, Oregon, or Washington, choose one of the listed sites and email your choice to Charlie Hamaker at
    • outside of California, Oregon, and Washington, email Charlie Hamaker at to request the closest approved testing center to your home. Once you get a reply from Prof. Hamaker you may contact the testing site to set up a time and date for your Mathematics Placement Exam.
  2. Contact the testing center, identify yourself as an incoming student to Saint Mary’s College and set up your date and time to take the Saint Mary’s College of CA Math Placement Exam. (Please note: this is not the ELM exam that students take who are going to a CSU.)
  3. You must set up you exam at least 2 weeks before your testing time and you must take the exam before May 21st. You are responsible for paying the testing/proctoring fee to the testing center.




For more information, contact Charles Hamaker at