Mathematics Placement

General Information on Math Placement

The information on the page is primarily for students entering the college in Fall 2020. It provides information on ‘math placement’. No action is required of incoming students. We will contact you when/if necessary. 

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 these, you must enroll in a mathematics course for which you are prepared.

Your high school record, college record (if any), and your SAT/ACT mathematics score, when available, will be used to determine your mathematics placement. You do not need to do anything!

Below is information about placement for those who wish to understand the details.

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 3, 4 and 5 (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 (as well as courses for Level 1, 2 and 3)

To determine whether your math placement is sufficient for your intended major, please consult this Guide to Majors showing the correspondence between majors and required placement levels.

Incoming first-year students are placed in appropriate courses as part of the advising/orientation process.

Math Readiness Courses

Regardless of whether you are an incoming or returning student, if your initial placement does not qualify you for the math course that you need to take, the best way to improve your placement is by completing a preparatory math course (Math 2 or Math 12) at Saint Mary’s College.

  • Math 2 (Math Readiness) is a preparatory course for Math 3, 4, or 5.
  • Math 12 (Math Readiness for Calculus) is a preparatory course for Math 13.

Note that neither Math 2 or Math 12 fulfills the Mathematical Understanding requirement for the SMC Core.

Students may also a preparatory course elsewhere. This course would likely be Intermediate Algebra (to reach Level 2) or College Algebra (to reach Level 3). Students planning on improving their placement through coursework outside of SMC are strongly advised to first consult with the Coordinator of Mathematics Placement (mathplacement@stmarys-ca.edu).

AP Credits:

A student who takes an AP exam will be awarded credit according to Saint Mary’s policy. To receive credit for a satisfactory AP score, the score must be officially reported to Saint Mary’s by the College Board. More information about how SMC uses AP scores can be found here.  Note: Since AP scores are not reported until July, it is advisable to take the placement test in May or June just in case you need it. 

AP Calculus: Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB exam or a 3 on the Calculus BC exam are awarded credit for Math 27 (Calculus 1). Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC exam are awarded credit for Math 27 and Math 38 (Calculus 1 & 2). All students who earn a 3 or better on either exam are awarded Level 4 math placement.

AP Statistics: Students who earn a 3 or better on the AP statistics exam are awarded credit for Math 4 (Introduction to Probability and Statistics) as well as Level 2 math placement.

If you have other questions or problems concerning the mathematics placement process Contact the Coordinator of Mathematics Placement, Professor Jim Sauerberg (mathplacement@stmarys-ca.edu). Other resources for placement issues include the Registrar’s Office (regoff@stmarys-ca.edu, 925-631-4214) and the Office of New Student and Family Programs (orientation@stmarys-ca.edu, 925-631-4647).