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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Mathematics


Information for all newly admitted freshmen and transfer students

How do I know which version of the Mathematics Placement Test I should take?

If your program of study enforces enrollment in MATH 141 (Calculus I) then you need to take the PreCalculus version of the MPT. This test will decide if you should start your college mathematics with PreCalculus (MATH 115) or Calculus I (MATH 141).  See the Guide to the MPT for further information on required scores.

If your program of study enforces enrollment in MATH 122 (Applied Calculus) then you need to take the Algebra version of the MPT. This test will decide if you should start your college mathematics with MATH 111, MATH 111i, or Applied Calculus (MATH 122).  See the Guide to the MPT for further information on required scores.

There are programs that allow students to choose between those two possibilities.  If that is your case, choose your sequence of MATH classes first (the sequence with MATH 141, or the sequence with MATH 122), and then take the relevant version of the Math Placement Exam. 

Why does UofSC have a Mathematics Placement Test?

Every student at UofSC is required to complete a Analytical Reasoning and Problem Solving (ARP) requirement for their general education. Depending upon the student’s major, there may or may not be a way to fulfill this requirement without taking a mathematics course, but the vast majority of all UofSC students do take at least some mathematics before completing their undergraduate degree. These students are faced with a very important decision: Which MATH course should you take first? The Mathematics Placement Tests are designed to help answer this question.

Math is my best subject in high school, and I even took an AP calculus course. Why might I need to take a pre-calculus course?

Many factors influence a student's success in a college-level calculus course, either MATH 122 or MATH 141 at UofSC. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel recently found that algebraic manipulation, fractions, and problem solving are the three most important mathematical skills needed to develop the mathematical and technological understandings needed for the 21st century.

Another important factor for success in college-level mathematics is the amount of time between your last mathematics course in high school and your first mathematics course at a college or university. These factors, together with less mathematical factors such as personal motivation and the ability to learn independently, all influence a student's likelihood of success in a college-level mathematics course. The results of the Mathematics Placement Test are our best estimate of the student's current mathematical readiness for college-level mathematics.

I passed the MPT at one of the other UofSC campuses before coming to UofSC-Columbia. Do I need to take the MPT again?

Yes, unless you do satisfy the pre-requisites based on your course work. The MPT at other campuses does not transfer to UofSC-Columbia.

If I take MATH 111, MATH 111i, or MATH 115 the first semester, can I still graduate on time?

Students whose programs of study start with MATH 141 but who start in MATH 115 will take only one extra mathematics course; the other courses will be required courses. This will make you at most one course behind but should not delay your graduation. On the other hand, taking a course for which you are not ready can lead to lower, or even failing grades, and is likely to delay your graduation.

However, students also need to be aware that several courses in their programs of study may have MATH 141 as a pre or co-requisite.  If these courses are not completed until later, graduation in four years becomes more difficult.

Students whose academic program depends critically upon taking MATH 141 in their first semester but place into MATH 115 are strongly encouraged to take a Pre-Calculus course at USC, or a local technical college, and enter USC prepared to be successful in MATH 141.

I already have AP credit (or dual credit) for Calculus I and/or Calculus II. Can I be exempted from the Mathematics Placement Test?

The results of the Mathematics Placement Test will not have any impact on the credits you have previously earned through the AP program. Practically, you will attend Orientation before you know the results of the AP exams, so taking the Mathematics Placement Test is a back-up in case you do not score a 3 or higher on the AP Calculus exam.

I have a documented disability that allows me to have more time to complete tests. Can I have more than 90 minutes to take the Mathematics Placement Test?

Students with documented disabilities should contact the Office of Student Disability Services. They can work with you to determine what accommodations are appropriate for your situation.

Can I take the mathematics placement test during Orientation?

Students must take the MPT before their scheduled Orientation date.

Students who must come to campus to take the Foreign Language Placement Test may use a USC computer lab on their own after those tests, but there is no time during the actual Orientation day itself for the Math Placement Test. Students cannot skip ANY part of the Orientation program to take this test, and students who have not completed the Math Placement Test before Orientation must still take the test after Orientation but before registering for any Mathematics coursework.

Can I re-take the Mathematics Placement Test?

Yes. You have to wait at least 7 days before retaking the same Mathematics Placement Test (Algebra or Precalculus). In fact, you can take the same version of the Mathematics Placement Test, with different questions, up to three (3) times. The most recent score is the one that will be reported on VIP and available to your advisor.

You can take the other version of the Mathematics Placement Test at any time. In these cases, the table provided in the next FAQ (What should I do if I take the wrong Mathematics Placement Test?) is used to determine which placement code is reported to the University.

What should I do if I take the wrong Mathematics Placement Test?

Re-take the MPT, this time selecting the other version of the MPT.

Note that you do not have to wait 7 days to take the other version of the MPT for the first time. Once you take an MPT you have to wait one week (7 days) before you can retake that version of the MPT.

Your most recent MPT score is the one that will be used for determining eligibility for 100-level MATH courses.

How do I get a UofSC Network Username and Password? How do I find them?

If you have been admitted to USC, then you do have a USC Network Username and Password.

To find them, go to Then, click the "Set your USC Network Username/Email Password". You will use your VIP ID to log on. This page will show your USC Network Username and allow you to change your password. Your username and password will be used to log into the Mathematics Placement test and also to check your university email.