Placement

Placement Information for Calculus and Statistics

Looking for the Math Placement Exam? Go to the Aleks Placement Assessment section below!

Contents

 

Calculus Placement

Students wishing to enroll in a Calculus course will need to either complete the online ALEKS Placement Assessment or submit a qualifying AP or IB exam score. New students who do not have a qualifying AP or IB score should take the ALEKS Placement Assessment early in the summer prior to starting at Oxy. This will allow time to review material and retake the assessment again if desired. 

Continuing students can take the ALEKS Placement Assessment at any time, but we recommend taking it at least several weeks prior to the next advising and registration period to allow time for you to take advantage of the Prep and Learning Module. 

Should I take the Calculus Placement Assessment?

Calculus 1 is required for several majors, including Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Geology, Kinesiology, Mathematics, and Physics. In addition, some majors may require Calculus 2, a statistics course, or other additional math coursework. (For more information about course requirements for a given major, visit the relevant department web page or refer to the College Catalog.)

If you are interested in any of the majors listed above and have not received a qualifying score on an AP or IB exam (see below), you should take the Calculus Placement Assessment during the summer prior to your first semester at Occidental.

 

Using an AP or IB score for Placement

Students who have taken the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in calculus should refer to the charts below for placement.

Note: If you have received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam, or a 4 or above on the IB Calculus HL exam you should not take the online Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS) as it will not place you in the appropriate course.



Calculus AP Exam Score

Placement

Calc AB: 4 or 5

MATH 120 or MATH 128

Calc AB: 3 or less

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment

Calc BC: 4 or 5

MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214

Calc BC: 3 or Less 

AB subscore of 4 or 5: MATH 120 or MATH 128

AB subscore of 3 or less: Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment



Calculus IB Exam Score

Placement

IB HL: 6 or 7

MATH 150, MATH 210, MATH 212, or MATH 214

IB HL: 5

MATH 114, MATH, 120, or MATH 128

(Contact the Math Department for guidance if you are unsure of whether to take a Calculus I or Calculus II course)

IB HL: 4

MATH 110 or MATH 114

IB HL: 3 or less

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment

IB SL: any score

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment

 

 

Information for Transfer Students

Transfer students who have not previously taken a calculus course at another college or university should use either an AP or IB score for placement (if available) or take the ALEKS Placement Assessment. 

Transfer students who have taken courses beyond calculus should confer with the chair of the Math Department for advice on placement in an appropriate mathematics course.

 

Calculus Courses

The following are brief descriptions of Occidental's calculus courses. For a more detailed description of each individual course, please refer to the online course catalog.

MATH 108-109: Unified Precalculus and Calculus
MATH 108-109 is a two-semester sequence that covers the material in Calculus 1 with additional study of elementary functions, algebra, trigonometry, graphing, and mathematical expression. Typically MATH 108 is offered only during the fall semester, with MATH 109 being taken in the spring. (Students must take MATH 108 in order to take MATH 109.) This two course sequence is designed for students who have studied only three years of high school mathematics or who are unready for the pace of calculus.

Successful completion of both MATH 108 and 109 will fulfill the Calculus 1 requirement for any major or minor; it will also allow students to register for any course that has Calculus 1 as a prerequisite.   

MATH 110: Calculus 1
This course is intended for students with no prior experience in calculus, but who have studied algebra 1 and 2, geometry, and a fourth year of high school mathematics (such as Mathematical Analysis, Elementary Functions, or pre-calculus).

Successful completion of MATH 110 will fulfill the Calculus 1 requirement for any major or minor; it will also allow students to register for any course that has Calculus 1 as a prerequisite.   

MATH 114: Calculus 1 (Advanced)
This Calculus 1 course is similar to MATH 110, but is Intended for students interested in more mathematical rigor. It is recommended for students who expect to take mathematics courses beyond calculus. 

Successful completion of MATH 114 will fulfill the Calculus 1 requirement for any major or minor; it will also allow students to register for any course that has Calculus 1 as a prerequisite.   

MATH 120: Calculus 2
This Calculus 2 course is commonly taken by students who have completed MATH 109, 110, or 114. It is also open to students who received an AP Calc AB score of 4 or 5, or an IB Calc HL score of 5, though students with qualifying AP or IB scores may wish to take MATH 128 instead.

Successful completion of MATH 120 will fulfill the Calculus 2 requirement for any major or minor; it will also allow students to register for any course that has Calculus 2 as a prerequisite. 

MATH 128: Calculus 2 (Advanced Placement)
This course is similar to Math 120, but is intended primarily for students who have Advanced Placement calculus in high school and received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calc AB exam. MATH 128 assumes mastery of the basic skills, including integration techniques and differentiation rules. 

Successful completion of MATH 128 will fulfill the Calculus 2 requirement for any major or minor; it will also allow students to register for any course that has Calculus 2 as a prerequisite. 

 

Online Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS)

Important Note: Please read all of the information in this section prior to starting the online Calculus Placement Assessment using the link below. You should not take this assessment if you have received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam, or a 4 or above on the IB Calculus HL exam.

For placement in Calculus 1 courses (MATH 108, MATH 110, and MATH 114), Occidental College makes use of the ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) system. ALEKS PPL is a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The Placement Assessment is up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete.

After the Placement Assessment, an individualized Prep and Learning Module is available for students to refresh their knowledge on forgotten topics. Students then have the opportunity to reassess and improve their placement.

ALEKS consists of three parts:

  • The initial Placement Assessment
  • The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review
  • The option of taking the Placement Assessment up to 4 additional times to see if you have placed into a more advanced course after using the Prep and Learning Module. Note: You must spend at least 3 hours using the Prep and Learning Module following each Placement Assessment before you can take the Placement Assessment again.

We strongly encourage students to spend time in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module, even if the desired score is achieved, because time spent reviewing material will ultimately lead to better preparation and improved grades.

ALEKS Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I take the ALEKS Calculus Placement Assessment?

You should take the online Calculus Placement Assessment if you intend on taking Calculus 1 and have not taken an AP or IB calculus course and received a qualifying score. Calculus 1 is required for students who intend on majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Geology, Kinesiology, Mathematics, and Physics.

2. When should I take the ALEKS Calculus Placement Assessment?

New students who intend on registering for a calculus course should take the ALEKS Placement Assessment during the summer prior to their first-year. We recommend taking the initial Placement Assessment in June or early July so that you will have time to use the Prep and Learning Module to review material and take the Placement Assessment again if desired.

Continuing students can take the Placement Assessment at any time, but we recommend taking it several weeks prior to advising and registration to allow time to take advantage of the Prep and Learning Module.

3. Can I take the Placement Assessment more than once?

Yes! You can take the Placement Assessment up to a total of 5 times. However, to make each attempt worthwhile, you are required to spend at least 3 hours using the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between Placement Assessments so that you can improve your skills. In addition, there is a minimum waiting period of 48 hours between assessment attempts.

4. Is there a fee for taking the ALEKS Calculus Placement Assessment?

You do not need to pay any to take the ALEKS Calculus Placement Assessment. Occidental College covers all costs associated with this service.

5. What topics are covered in the ALEKS Calculus Placement Assessment?

ALEKS is an online, adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. The length of the Placement Assessment will vary, but can be up to 30 questions. You will see some, but not all, of the math you have learned in high school. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take your first Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your placement.

Topics covered:

  • Real numbers (including fractions, integers, and percentages)

  • Equations and inequalities (including linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations),

  • Linear and quadratic functions (including graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas), exponents and polynomials (including integer exponents, polynomial arithmetic, factoring, and polynomial equations), rational expressions (including rational equations and rational functions

  • Radical expressions (including higher roots and rational exponents)

  • Exponentials and logarithms (including function compositions and inverse functions, properties of logarithms, and logarithmic equations)

  • Geometry and trigonometry (including perimeter, area, and volume, coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, and identities and equations).

6. Do I need to have a calculator when taking the Placement Assessment?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator.

7. What if I see questions I don’t know?

It is likely that you will be asked questions on material you have not yet learned. On such questions it is appropriate to answer “I don't know.” On any question that you have familiarity with, however, it is important to do your best. “I don't know” is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that you do not know how to solve the topic, and this will be reflected in the Placement Assessment results. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the Placement Assessment, it only helps ALEKS to determine the course that is the best fit for you.

8. How long does it take to finish the Placement Assessment? Is there a time limit?

On average, the ALEKS Placement Assessment takes 60-90 minutes, but you are free to complete the Placement Assessment at your own pace. The system will allow you to access your Placement Assessment for 48 hours after you begin. If you need to exit the Placement Assessment for any reason, you will be able to log back in and pick up where you left off.

9. What are the possible placement outcomes?

Students who take the ALEKS Placement Assessment will be placed into MATH 108, MATH 110, or MATH 114 based on the resulting score (see chart below). If you take the assessment more than once, your highest score will be used for placement.



ALEKS Score Range

Placement

0-75

MATH 108

76-89

MATH 110

90-100

MATH 110 or MATH 114

10. Where can I see my score?

You will receive your score immediately upon completion of your Placement Assessment and your score will remain accessible on ALEKS using the same link you used to take the Placement Assessment.

Scores are transferred from ALEKS into Occidental’s advising and registration system approximately once every 24 hours. Once the scores have been transferred you can view them by logging into myOxy, navigating to the Academic page, selecting Grades and Academic Records, and selecting “Placement Results.”

11. What if I’m not happy with my placement?

This is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Prep and Learning Modules offered within ALEKS. An individualized study plan will be created based on your performance on the Initial Placement Assessment. ALEKS will identify what you know and what you are ready to learn next so you can brush up on lost knowledge.

If you have additional concerns about whether a specific course is appropriate for you to take, please contact the Math Department for additional guidance.

12. How long do I have access to my Prep and Learning Module?

You will have six months of access to your Prep and Learning module. Access to the prep course will not begin until you select start on the top of your screen. Do not start the Prep and Learning Module until you are ready to start working.

13. Does progress in an ALEKS Prep and Learning Module count toward placement?

You progress in the Prep and Learning Module will not automatically change your placement. You must complete a new Placement Assessment to change your placement result. Select the placement tab in the upper right corner of the ALEKS page to start a new Placement Assessment.

Statistics Placement

Advanced placement is available to students with qualifying scores on the Advanced Placement Examinations in statistics. Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP exam may receive a prerequisite waiver for courses that have COMP 146 as a prerequisite.  

COMP 146: Statistics and Math 150: Statistical Data Analysis are similar courses; we advise students who are interested in taking an introductory statistics course and who have a Calculus I background (either coursework or AP placement) to enroll in Math 150: Data Analysis rather than COMP 146: Statistics.