Placement Information for Calculus and Statistics

Looking for information about Statistics

Calculus Placement Information

Do I need to 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 use the What-If feature on Degree Works.)

If you are interested in any of the majors listed above, you should take the ALEKS Placement Assessment.

Important exception:  If you have received a qualifying score on an AP or IB exam (see section below) or if you have already taken Calculus 1 or Calculus 2 at another college or university, you should not take the ALEKS assessment. Instead, you should request that an official copy of your score report or transcript be sent to Occidental's Registrar's Office as soon as possible. 

When should I take the ALEKS Placement Assessment? 

We strongly encourage new students who will be taking Calculus 1 to complete the assessment early in the summer prior to starting at Oxy. This will allow time to review material and retake the assessment again if desired. (Again, students who received a qualifying AP or IB score should not take the ALEKS assessment.) 

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. 

What do I do if I'm a transfer student? 

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 applicable) 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.

ALEKS Calculus Assessment

Wait! Before you take click on one of the links below, please read the "ALEKS Overview" below! 


If you will be starting at Oxy in Fall 2023, please use this link:

ALEKS for New Students

If you are an Oxy student who first used ALEKS prior to May 2023, please use this link:

ALEKS for Returning Students


ALEKS Overview

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 is a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses. On average, the ALEKS Placement Assessment takes 60-75 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.

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.


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.

Occidental College covers all costs associated with this service.

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 25 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).

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

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.

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



MATH 108


MATH 110


MATH 110 or MATH 114

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Calculus AP and IB Scores

Students who have taken the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in calculus should refer to the charts below for placement. If you've taken more one exam, use the highest level exam to determine your placement. 


Calculus AP Exam Score


AP Calc AB: 4 or 5

MATH 120 or MATH 128

AP Calc AB: 3 or below

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment

AP Calc BC: 4 or 5

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

AP Calc BC: 3 or below

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


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 below

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment

IB SL: any score

Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment


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. 

Statistics Placement Information

Occidental does not offer a placement exam for statistics. In most cases students interested in a statistics course can enroll in either COMP 146 or MATH 150. That said, if you received a score of 4 or 5 in AP Statistics, we will treat that as equivalent to having completed COMP 146 for the purpose of major and minor requirements, as well as prerequisites.

What's the difference between COMP 146 and MATH 150?  While these courses are similar, 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.

  • COMP 146: Statistics. Comprehensive study of measures of central tendency, variation, probability, the normal distribution, sampling, estimation, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. Introduction to use of technology in statistics. Real-life problems are used to illustrate methods. Weekly lab. Not open to students who have completed or are currently enrolled in Psychology 201, Biology 368, Mathematics 150, or any Mathematics course above 200.
  • MATH 150: Statistical Data Analysis. An introductory course in statistics emphasizing modern techniques of data analysis. Exploratory data analysis and graphical methods; random variables, statistical distributions, and linear models; classical, robust, and nonparametric methods for estimation and hypothesis testing; introduction to modern multivariate methods. Students will make significant use of a computer application specifically designed for data exploration. The course is strongly recommended for students who are going to use graphical techniques and statistics for research in their fields. Weekly lab. Prerequisite: a Calculus 1 course or permission of instructor.


Contact Mathematics
Fowler Hall 305