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Mathematics Placement Information


Before taking your first math course at UTK, you need to know the math requirements for your major and which math course is the best for you to begin to fulfill these requirements.  Since you’re here, we assume you know what your major requires. If you don’t know what math courses you need to take you should see an advisor or check out the catalog.

The purpose of this site is to help you determine the place to start that will give you the best chance to reach your goal.  This means that we want you in a class that you are ready for, but is not just a review of material that you already know well.   If you take the class that you are placed into, we’ve seen that students have a 75-80% of making a C or better.  If you take a class that you do not place into, the likelihood of success is below 50%.

You’ve probably heard about the challenges in the transition from high school to college and those challenges are especially true in mathematics.  You may find that you place into a course that seems at first like a course you took in high school.  However, at the college level, this course will be quite different.  You’ll have to adjust to the faster pace of a college class, to the emphasis on learning the concepts and processes and not just on the right answers, and to the switch of responsibility from the teacher keeping you on track in the classroom to your own responsibility for keeping on track both in and out of the classroom. Being in the right class can make the transition easier.

Placement Level

Your course options are determined by your placement level.  The first step is to use the table below with your Math ACT and/or Math SAT scores, to determine your placement level.

Math ACT
Math SAT taken
before 3/2016
Math SAT taken
after 3/2016
21 or lower 510 or lower 540 or lower
113, 115, 119
22 to 24 520 to 560 550 to 580
25 to 27 570 to 620 590 to 640
123, 125, 130
28 to 31 630 to 710 650 to 740
141*, 151*
32 or higher 720 or higher 750 or higher

* Math 141, 151, and 147 require knowledge of trignometry. Students without such should first take Math 130.

If your placement level is high enough for the course you need for your major, then you are ready to take that course and be successful. 

If your placement level is not high enough, then you’re qualified to take a pre-requisite course.  Math 119 is the pre-requisite for Level 3 courses and Math 130 is the pre-requisite for the Level 4 courses. 

Adjustments to Placement

Two things you may have done that would change your placement level:

Took (and passed) a college-level math course for credit.

    If you took a course for college credit called College Algebra and got a C or better, then your minimum level is 3; if the course is Precalculus, your minimum level is 4; if it is Calculus or higher, your minimum level is 4.  If you took some other course, you’ll need to check with your advisor to see which course at UTK it is equivalent to, and how that affects your level. Make sure to send an official transcript to UTK.

Took and made a passing score on a college credit exam (AP or CLEP).

    If you scored a 3 or higher on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam you are at least at level 4.  If you took and passed the CLEP College Algebra exam you are at least at level 3.  If you passed the CLEP Precalculus exam, you are at level 4.  Make sure to send your scores to UTK.

Three things you can do between now and the beginning of classes in August to boost your placement level:

Take and transfer to UTK, college credit in College Algebra or Precalculus.

    It is likely your local community college offers these courses during the summer.  They are also offered here at UTK, if you’re around this summer.  When you sign up to take these courses, make sure that they will transfer to UTK as the correct courses.  Also, other schools may have different placement and prerequisites for their courses, so you may have to take additional courses before you can take the course you need for UTK.

Take a CLEP test.

    CLEP tests are offered in many different places with a wide range of scheduled times.  You can check for nearby testing centers and their available dates online at their website.

Online Placement Exam

    If you’re close to the cutoff for the next higher placement level and you’ve had a course in high school that compares (by name) to the class you’ve placed into, then you should consider signing up for and taking our online placement test.  The system we use provides a 16 week subscription that lets you take the placement exam up to 3 times and also provides practice tests and a study plan to help you prepare for the exam. you'll need a score of 80% or higher to pass.

For information about registering for the math placement exam, download this guide and follow the instructions (updated for January 2016).

If you have questions or need more information, please email us at


Q: My ACT score puts me at the level I need for the class I want to take, do I need to take a placement test?
A: No. The placement test, and the other options, are only to increase your level, if you need it.

Q: I placed at level 4, but my major requires Math 125, do I have to take Math 141 instead?
A: No. If you're at level 4 you qualify for courses at levels 1-4 and you should take whichever is appropriate for your major.

last updated: June 2016

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