Scheduling General Education Quantification Courses

General Education quantification courses can be divided into two categories: (1) precalculus and calculus courses, which have a prerequisite of satisfactory performance on Penn State's mathematics placement test, and (2) other General Education quantification courses that have no prerequisites but may have suggested preparation.

Selection of an appropriate quantification course depends on the student's curricular goal(s), interests, and background in mathematics considered in conjunction with his/her Penn State mathematics placement test results. Use Flexibility in General Education to find out whether a major requires specific courses to meet General Education requirements.

ALEKS Placement Tests, Effective November 2013

ALEKS, an online adaptive program that provides placement testing and offers remediation, will replace the mathematics testing described below.

ALEKS is an adaptive program; no two students will take identical tests. The test identifies students' areas of strength and weakness. Test results will be immediate to provide students the opportunity to use ALEKS online learning modules and re-test after successfully mastering additional learning objectives as determined by the program. For example, students who place into MATH 022 but need MATH 110 will have the ability to learn MATH 022 content, re-test, and place directly into MATH 110 prior to their first semester.

Placement Tests Prior to November 2013

Understanding the Mathematics Placement Actions on the Academic Background and Placements Report

Placement actions indicate the calculus or precalculus courses that the student is prepared to take, based on the proficiency that he/she demonstrated in Penn State's placement test. The placement actions are not requirements unless the student is planning to schedule a calculus or precalculus course.

Placement test results are reported on an Academic Background and Placements report available to the student through New Student Orientation (NSO). Placement test results are also available to students and advisers on the eLion Placement Test application. Do not schedule mathematics courses without reviewing these test results.

The mathematics department wants to place each student in the most appropriate mathematics course. Students who are not sure about placement should consult with the Undergraduate Math Office.

When considering placement actions, view the first course as a starting point; continuation in the recommended sequence should depend on the student's performance in each course. A student may enroll in a course at a lower level than the placement action indicated. But the new course will supersede the placement action. If the lower-level course is part of a sequence (e.g., MATH 021, 022, 026), the student should follow the prerequisites of the sequence and should not proceed through it by skipping intermediate courses. Students are strongly discouraged from enrolling in a course that is at a higher level than the placement action indicated, as the probability of success in such instances is very low.

A student who questions his/her placement may refer to Mathematics Course Placement as a guide when selecting his/her first mathematics course.

Placement test results are not reliable after one year. Students planning to schedule a calculus or precalculus course a year or more after testing should discuss placement with an adviser in the Undergraduate Math Office.

Mathematics Placement Retesting

Preparation: To be successful on a mathematics retest, a student should assess the reason for his/her original placement and take appropriate action before the retest (e.g., algebra and/or trigonometry review).

Availability: Students who feel the placement test results do not accurately reflect their ability may take an online retest prior to taking a precalculus or calculus course at Penn State. The retest becomes automatically available by selecting Take The Tests! at http://orientation.psu.edu/testing three weeks after a student has completed NSO placement testing.

Format: Students taking the retest will not be offered a choice of calculator or noncalculator. The student is given the same version he/she took originally. The seventy-two-question test is individually timed for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Results: When a retest is submitted before 5:00 p.m., results are posted on the next business day. If the retest is taken over a weekend or on a holiday, the results will be posted in two business days.

When the test results have been posted, advisers and students can access updated mathematics placement actions on the eLion Placement Test application. The first sentence on the report will indicate the date the retest was scored. If the student's retest mathematics scores have changed, they will be reflected on the summary and in the placement actions. Retest scores are available to authorized advisers on ISIS screen AURV. Retest results on this screen have the code MA listed as the TESTING CAMP. The TEST DATE field is left blank and the SUMMARY DATE displays the date of the retest.

Basic Skills Mathematics

Basic Skills Notation on Academic Background and Placements: If a student demonstrated a weakness in basic skills, then the placement actions will begin with this statement: "Review of Basic Mathematics Suggested." Review is required for students planning to schedule algebra, trigonometry, or calculus. It is not required for other students; however, they may also benefit from review. See Advising Recommendations for Other General Education Quantification Courses.

Basic Skills Courses: MATH 001, 002, 003, 097C, and 004 offer basic skills remediation.

As an alternative to scheduling these courses, students who placed in MATH 001, 003, or 004 can use online, non-credit courses to self-remediate. Information about these courses is available on the Math Department website.

MATH 001 Developmental Mathematics (6 credits) is no longer offered at University Park; however, it is offered at some other Penn State campuses. This course combines instruction in basic arithmetic skills with a college-level introduction to algebra. Thus, MATH 001 allows the student to complete MATH 003 Basic Skills and MATH 004 Intermediate Algebra in one semester. This course may not be scheduled by students who have passed MATH 003. Students with a MATH 001 recommendation on their Academic Background and Placements are advised to schedule MATH 003 followed by MATH 004 if slower-paced remediation is desired or if MATH 001 is not available.

MATH 002 Elementary Geometry with Problem Solving (4 credits) is helpful for a student who has a weak geometry background and plans to enroll in MATH 026 Plane Trigonometry. The prerequisite for this course is either a demonstration of proficiency in intermediate algebra by placement in MATH 021 College Algebra I, as indicated on a student's Academic Background and Placements, or satisfactory completion of MATH 004 Intermediate Algebra or MATH 097C Intermediate Algebra with Problem Solving. This course is not included in any basic skills notation or any mathematics placement action. This course may be scheduled concurrently with MATH 021 College Algebra I.

MATH 003 Basic Skills (3 credits) provides instruction in basic arithmetic skills. At University Park, this course is only offered through Continuing Education. It is also available at many other Penn State campuses.

MATH 097C Intermediate Algebra with Problem Solving (4 credits) is a college-level introduction to algebra combined with individualized review of basic arithmetic skills as needed. The prerequisite for this course is satisfactory performance on the mathematics placement examination or satisfactory completion of MATH 003 Basic Skills. This course is not included in any basic skills notation or any mathematics placement action. Students who complete MATH 097C with satisfactory performance (grade of C or higher) are prepared for MATH 021 or a General Education alternative to algebra, precalculus, and calculus. If performance was unsatisfactory, a student should consult with his/her MATH 097C instructor about meeting General Education and/or major quantification requirements.

MATH 004 Intermediate Algebra (3 credits) is a college-level introduction to algebra. It has a prerequisite of MATH 003 or satisfactory performance on Penn State's mathematics placement test.

Basic Skills Credits and Grades: Credits earned in MATH 001, 002, 003, 097C, and 004 are included in the student's semester credits and total credits earned. Grades earned are included in the student's grade-point average. However, these courses cannot be used to satisfy the basic minimum requirements for graduation (including electives) in any baccalaureate degree program.

Placement Actions for Calculus

A student's Academic Background and Placements report provides placement actions for each of the two introductory calculus courses: MATH 110 Techniques of Calculus I and MATH 140 Calculus with Analytic Geometry I. If the student demonstrated proficiency in precalculus skills, then the placement actions will indicate that the student may schedule calculus.

Credit by Exam: If the student demonstrated outstanding skills in basic mathematics and precalculus, then the placement actions will state that he/she may schedule calculus and will indicate that the student may consult with an adviser about calculus credit by exam. The Mathematics Department has created a web questionnaire that provides talking points for a thoughtful advising discussion about whether it is appropriate for a student to take a test for credit in calculus (Math 110 or Math 140). Students who want to pursue credit by exam in calculus should contact the Undergraduate Math Office.

Advanced Placement for Calculus

A student may have earned credit for MATH 140 or MATH 140 and 141 through the advanced placement of the College Board. A student with AP calculus credits may take MATH 140 and/or 141 because he/she feels that more work is needed or wanted in this subject. A list of questions is provided by the Department of Mathematics to help students consider whether or not they should use earned AP credits to satisfy their MATH 140 or 141 requirements. If a student decides to take the courses(s), the course(s) will appear on the student's transcript twice, but credits for the course(s) will only be counted once as a graduation requirement.

Placement Actions for Calculus Preparation

If a student did not demonstrate proficiency in precalculus skills, then the placement actions will designate the course or courses that should be scheduled in preparation for MATH 110 and for MATH 140. For MATH 110, it is essential that the student has the prerequisite algebra skills; for MATH 140, it is essential that the student has the prerequisite algebra and trigonometry skills.

One or more of the following calculus and precalculus courses may be indicated on the summary: MATH 004, 021, 022, 026, 040, 041, and 140A.

Students who placed in MATH 021 or MATH 022 can use online, non-credit courses to self-remediate. Information about these courses is available on the Math Department website.

MATH 040 is no longer offered at University Park. However, it may be offered at some other Penn State campuses. For more information, consult the Schedule of Courses for the desired campus.

MATH 140A (6 credits) is available at University Park and some other Penn State campuses. For more information, consult the Schedule of Courses for the desired campus. The Department of Mathematics recommends that students schedule MATH 140A, rather than MATH 140, if their placement action states, "If you need or want to schedule MATH 140, you may schedule that course. MATH 140A is recommended where available." This recommendation is based on studies of the success rates of students. For additional information, please contact the Undergraduate Math Office.

Advising Recommendations for Students having Difficulty in PreCalculus and Calculus Courses

Assistance in quantification courses is available for all students at Penn State Learning.

Students are advised to make a careful assessment of their likelihood of success in a mathematics class during the drop/add period. The appropriateness of placement based on the mathematics placement test can be further assessed by going to the first few classes, reviewing the syllabus and the text.

For more information, contact the Undergraduate Math Office.

Advising Recommendations for Alternatives to Algebra, PreCalculus, and Calculus

General Education quantification courses are designated with the suffix "GQ." They may be selected from mathematics, statistics, computer science, and symbolic logic (offered in philosophy courses). As part of the 6-credit quantification requirement, a student may take no more than 3 credits in either computer science (CMPSC) or symbolic logic (PHIL). In choosing a GQ course, the student should keep in mind his/her goal(s), interests, mathematics placement test results, and the requirements of his/her major. Many Penn State majors include specific GQ courses. Flexibility in General Education can be used to identify courses that are required in majors.

Students who do not plan to schedule precalculus or calculus courses are not required to follow the placement actions on their Academic Background and Placements report. They may select from the courses listed below. (This list includes all General Education quantification courses that are currently offered, except calculus courses and those courses that require a Penn State mathematics course as a prerequisite.) Although the courses listed below do not have prerequisites, the following guide to suggested preparation has been provided by their departments. Students who received a basic skills recommendation for mathematics or a placement action recommending precalculus algebra should schedule accordingly.

Assistance in quantification courses is available for all students at Penn State Learning.

Advising recommendations for alternatives to Algebra, PreCalculus and Calculus.
General Education Quantification Suggested Minimum Level of Preparation
CMPSC 101 MATH 004 (or 001)
CMPSC 203 MATH 004 (or 001)
CRIMJ 260 (available at campuses offering the CRIMJ major) BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
EDPSY 101 BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
MATH 017* BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
MATH 018* BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
MATH 034* NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED
MATH 035* NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED
MATH 036* NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED
MATH 200 BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
PHIL 012 NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED**
STAT 100 BASIC ARITHMETIC SKILLS/MATH 003
STAT 200 MATH 004 (or 001)***

*The Department of Mathematics has provided details on GQ at Penn State Alternatives to Algebra, Precalculus, and Calculus to provide information on five mathematics courses students can choose from if their degree programs do not require specific algebra, precalculus, or calculus material.

**Although PHIL 010 (GH) Critical Thinking and Argument is not a quantification course, it has been suggested to help prepare for PHIL 012 (GQ) Symbolic Logic.

***STAT 100 (GQ) Statistical Concepts and Reasoning has been suggested to help students who have no background in statistics and express concern about their ability to handle college-level mathematics.

Questions regarding these suggestions should be directed to the appropriate department.


Last Update: May 2013