Math Placement

The College of Arts and Sciences provides students of the University of San Diego the opportunity to satisfy their math general education requirement by examination.

Current students are required to take the math placement exam in the computer lab in Serra 205. When you arrive, ask the lab assistant for a password. See Lab Hours and more information at Math Placement Exams.

Before you take your first mathematics course at USD, you will be given a Mathematics Placement Exam to place you in the correct course. Below is an explanation of our mathematics requirement and placement exams.

USD Math Requirements

USD's requirement that all graduating students demonstrate basic mathematical competence may be fulfilled by passing Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112), College Algebra (Math 115), or a more advanced course such as Calculus (Math 130 or 150). A student may also fulfill the requirement by passing a competency exam (not to be confused with the placement exams). The vast majority of our students satisfy the requirement by taking one of the above courses.

We use placement exams, in conjunction with the previous academic record, to place students in the appropriate course. You will need to choose whether to take the Level 1 or Level 2 placement exam. This choice will be based on the level of mathematics course which seems appropriate for your start. (If you guess wrong don't worry—we'll just retest you).

Do I need to take the Placement Exam to place into Math 115, Math 130, Math 150 or Math 151?
Not necessarily. Your math score on your SAT or ACT exam, or your score on an AP Calculus Exam (if any), may allow you
to enroll into a class without taking the placement exam. Review the grid below. The highest level class that your AP Calc / SAT / ACT score will qualify you for is given in the table below:

Scores: Level of Math Qualified for (Lower levels may be taken):
3, 4, or 5 on AP Calculus BC Exam

Calculus III (Math 250) (Course credit will be given for Math 150 & Math 151)

3, 4, or 5 on AP Calculus AB Exam

Calculus II (Math 151) (Course credit will be given for Math 150) 

Math SAT score ≥ 600 or Math ACT score ≥ 26

Calculus I (Math 150)

Math SAT score ≥ 570 or Math ACT score ≥ 25

Survey of Calculus (Math 130)

Math SAT score ≥ 530 or Math ACT score ≥ 22

College Algebra (Math 115) or Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112)

Math SAT score < 530 and Math ACT score < 22

Intermediate Algebra (Math 90)

Your SAT / ACT score may be used for placement into math courses through the Spring term of your first year on campus only; for every term after that, you will be required to take the placement exam to satisfy the prerequisite to take your first math course. Incoming students may be placed in a math course by their SAT / ACT scores before their AP exam score arrives to USD. If your AP exam score indicates you should be in a more advanced math course that you have been enrolled in by our summer advisors based on your SAT score, you should go to the registrar's office on campus to change your math course to a more appropriate course. 
If you feel you should be placed in a more advanced math course than the one you were assigned, you may take our Math Placement Exam from home or once you arrive to campus to attempt to place into a different class.

How to Decide Which Placement Exam to Take


If you would like to start with Investigations in Modern Mathematics (Math 112) or College Algebra (Math 115), you will need to pass the Level 1 Placement Exam. The Level 1 exam covers the material in an intermediate algebra course (usually the second year of high school algebra). The exam takes approximately 45 minutes.

If you do not do well enough on the exam to place into Math 112 or Math 115, we offer Intermediate Algebra (Math 90) as a review course, or you could take a similar course at a community college and then retake the placement exam. To take Math 112 or Math 115 at USD you must either pass the Level 1 Placement Exam or pass Math 90 at USD with a C- or better. We do not accept any kind of transfer credit at the Math 90 Level.


If you feel that you are ready to start with Survey of Calculus (Math130) or Calculus I (Math 150), take the Level 2 exam. This exam covers the material normally found in a precalculus course. The Level 2 exam takes approximately 60 minutes.

Students taking this exam will be given two different results: preparation for Math 150 based on the entire exam, and preparation for Math 130 for which the trigonometry questions are not counted. If you do not do well enough on the exam to place into Math 130 or Math 150, you should take the Level 1 Placement Exam to see if you are prepared to take College Algebra (Math 115) as a review course before you take Calculus.

Exam Preparation


We have Sample Level 1 exam questions on-line so that you can know what types of questions to expect for this exam. In addition, useful online mathematics review materials can be found below:


We have Sample Level 2 exam questions on-line so that you can know what types of questions to expect for this exam. In addition, useful online mathematics review materials can be found below:

Log In / Take the Placement Exam