Common Questions about placement and placement/credit exams
What placement/credit exams are available to take?
- We offer seven placement/credit
exams, each of which may be taken only
once. Four of them cover calculus, the material in Math 1, 3, 8, 11 (see
the description of Dartmouth's core calculus courses and
variants). The other three cover more advanced subjects:
linear algebra, differential equations, and number theory.
- The Math 1 exam is really a diagonostic exam to see if you are
ready for Math 3. If you have seen any calculus already, you
probably should not be in Math 1, but in Math 3 and need not take
any placement exams. Anyone (who does not
already have credit for Math 3) can enroll in Math 3; no placement
exams are required.
- You should take the Math 3 placement/credit exam if you feel
you know the material in Math 3 (AB calculus), and want to take
a more advanced course. Passing the placement/credit exam for
Math 3 gives you credit for Math 3 and placement into Math 8.
- You should take the Math 8 placement/credit exam if you feel
you know the material in Math 8 (BC calculus), and
want to take a more advanced course. Passing the
placement/credit exam for Math 8 gives you credit for Math 8 and
placement into Math 9 or 11; see variations on the core calculus track.
- You should take the Multivariable calculus placement/credit
exam if you feel you know differential and integral
multivariable calculus (the material in Math 11
see variations on the core calculus track), and
want to be eligible to take a more advanced course. Passing the
placement/credit exam for Multivariable calculus gives you
credit for Math 13 and the opportunity to take any math course
which has Math 3, 8, or 13 as prerequisite.
If you have learned material from linear algebra, differential
equations or number theory, you should take the appropriate
I have taken both AB
and BC calculus, but have credit for neither. Which placement exams should I take?
- If your goal is to get credit for Math 3 and 8, you should
take the Math 8 exam. Passing it will give you credit for both
Math 3 and 8, and placement into Math 9 or 11.
- Should your score on the Math 8 exam be too low to get credit
for Math 8, it may still be high enough to get credit for Math
3. You will have to check with Professor van Erp via Canvas.
If you did really poorly on the Math 8 exam, you are still free
to attempt the Math 3 exam to see if you can get credit for Math
3 and placement into Math 8. If you are in this situation, some
further review is probably in order.
I have taken a math
course at another college or university. How can I get credit for
- The Math Department does not accept transfer credit from
students prior to matriculation, so the only way to obtain credit
for work done elsewhere is to take a local placement exam.
- For calculus you may take an online exam via Canvas; for
courses beyond, such as linear algebra, differential equations or
number theory, you can take a 90-minute written exam when you
arrive on campus. Set up an appointment with Professor van Erp via Canvas.
For courses beyond those mentioned above,
Where and when should
I take a math placement test?
- The placement/credit exams are hosted on Canvas (a Dartmouth
web resource), meaning all these exams may be taken online
before getting to campus.
- The Canvas placement testing site will open in early
August. You will receive an email over the summer on how to access
Preparation is key since you have only one chance to pass a
given placement/credit exam. Do not go to the Canvas site until you
ready to take the exam.
- Extensive review and preparation materials including textbook
references, video links and practice exams are available on the
Calculus web page.
Finally, in order to be of use to you for fall registration,
exams must be completed by noon on September 9, 2020.
How do I determine my
official placement in Mathematics?
- All of your official Dartmouth record is kept on
- If you have taken AP, IB, or British-based A-level exams,
be sure to have those scores reported to
Dartmouth as they impact your mathematics placement.
Your student record is updated throughout the summer (and indeed
may not be up-to-date until orientation), but you should get
familiar with it.
- On DartHub you can examine your placement record, a sample of
which is here, and which gives a good overview of your
placement. Be sure to go back to the
course page to help you recall the content of our
[click the image to magnify/shrink]
How can I determine
if I should take a math placement test, and if so, which
- The first question you need to answer is whether you are
content with your current math placement, and that may not be
completely obvious. Check your current placement by reading the
above information block.
- If you are content with your current
placement, you do not need to take any placement exam in
math. As a first pass, check out the flow chart below
to help with the process.
[click the image to magnify/shrink]
If you are still reading, you are not entirely content with your
current placement. We offer four calculus placement/credit exams
described above, and three
exams on post calculus material.
- There is often uncertainty about placements between courses at
boundaries: Math 1/3, 3/8, 8/MVC (MVC=Multivariable Calculus), and that is quite
natural. Let's make some general remarks.
- Math 1 versus Math 3: The
general rule is that if you have taken any calculus at all,
you should not enroll in Math 1, but if you are still uncertain,
you should do two things. The first is to review to syllabi
for these courses:
Sample Math 1 syllabus,
detailed Math 3 syllabus with video
Then after reviewing the syllabi, if you are still
uncertain, you can take the Math 1 diagnostic test, one of
the placement exams on Canvas. If you are comfortable with
the material on the Math 1 exam, you should definitely place
in Math 3. Please note that you may take each placement
test only once, so you should not visit the Canvas page
until you are ready to take the test.
- Math 3 versus Math 8: Most
people in this situation have credit for Math 3 typically
via an AB placement exam, and have seen significant
material covered in the Math 8 syllabus from BC calculus,
but not acquired Math 8 credit. You are strongly
encouraged to look over
the detailed Math 8 syllabus with video review
links and decide whether — with review —
you could be adequately prepared to pass the Math 8
placement exam on Canvas. The exam will open in early
August and you have until early September to take it in
time for fall registration.
You have absolutely nothing to lose, a great deal
to gain, and are safe no matter how things turn out. If you
fail, you take Math 8 and you have already done some review
— remember only half of Math 8 is BC calculus; the
other half starts multivariable calculus.
you pass, you have three options which even includes taking
Math 8 again anyway. See
Variations on the core calculus
sequence. Please note that you may take each
placement test only once, so you should not visit the
Canvas page until you are ready to take the test.
- Math 8 versus MVC: If you are at
this decision point, you have credit for Math 8 (by whatever
means including local placement test), and you have many
options. You can choose one of the Math 8/9/11 options
detailed in Variations on the core calculus sequence,
or if you have seen significant multivariable calculus
(see detailed Math 13 syllabus with video review
links), you should attempt the MVC placement exam.
Please note that you may take each placement test only once,
so you should not visit the Canvas page until you are ready
to take the test.
I have reported
AP/IB/A-level credit information to the Registrar's
office. Now what?
- Scores received from incoming students are processed by the
Registrar throughout the summer and are not guaranteed to entered
until early September. You can monitor what has been recorded by
checking on BannerStudent, see above.
- On the other hand, you know your scores, and can check your
expected placements, referring as needed to
If your expected placements are not exactly what you hoped for,
revisit your options to take a local placement exam.
I did poorly on my AP
exam. Do I have any options?
- You may always take one of our local placement tests to try to
better your placement and credit. See the information block
I took calculus
and/or statistics before coming to Dartmouth, but did not take
any AP exams. Can I get credit?
- You can acquire prematriculation credit for math courses only
by taking one of our local placement tests. See the information block
In particular, even if you took a math course at another
university, you cannot transfer that credit to Dartmouth. The
Math Department does not accept transfer credits from students
prior to matriculation. You must demonstrate your mastery of
the material by taking a local placement test.
Do these placement
credits count towards graduation?
- These credits will appear on your transcript (making outside
institutions like medical schools happy), but do not count towards
distributive requirements, nor do they reduce the number of
courses required for graduation.
- They do serve to allow you to take any course for which these
I took math courses
beyond calculus like linear algebra, differential
equations, or number theory. What can I do?
- We routinely give placement exams for linear algebra,
differential equations, and elementary number theory; they are
also on the Canvas web site.
- For those who have taken courses beyond these, please see
Professor van Erp and arrangements can be made
for an assessment.
For information (including syllabi) about all courses, see our
course information web page.