Mathematics Placement Exam

The Mathematics Placement Exam (MPE) is used to determine a student's proper placement in a precalculus course or an introductory calculus course.

Many, but not all, students need to take this exam. See student placement to see if you need to take the exam.

The MPE is:

  • Free of charge when proctored on-campus
  • 90-minutes long
  • 60-item multiple choice questions
  • Administered throughout the year

If your enrollment in a math course hinges on your test score, take the test as early as possible. This allows you time to review the suggested topics.


  • Exponents and Radicals
  • Functions and their Graphs
  • Geometry & Geometric Applications
  • Linear Equations and Inequalities, Absolute Values, and their Graphs
  • Logarithmic and Exponential Functions and their Graphs
  • Polynomials and Polynomial Equations and their Graphs
  • Rational Expressions and their Graphs
  • Trigonometry


We recommend taking an online readiness test to practice for the MPE.

Find an exam time that works for you. You are allowed to retake the exam but you must wait at least 60 days between test retakes.

Recommended refresher books

  • Just-In-Time Algebra and Trigonometry by Mueller & Brent. Addison-Wesley ISBN 0-201-41951-3 (for 4C/20A)
  • Schaum's Outline of College Algebra by Spiegel. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-060266-2 (for 3C/10A)
  • Schaum's Outline of Precalculus by Fred Safier. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-057261-5 (for 4C/20A)

Testing accommodation

Students who have been diagnosed as having a disability or who believe that they may have a disability, should contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). Students must obtain an OSD Authorization for Accommodation (AFA) to get accommodations for the Math Placement Exam. Contact, or 858-534-3373 to make arrangements for MPE testing at least three days prior to a desired exam date.

After taking the test

After the test scores are entered in the student registration system, you can register for a math class that you qualified for through WebReg.

Test results are valid for one calendar year. If you do not register for an appropriate math class in that time, you will need to take the MPE again.

You can view an individual report online that includes placement level and a list of topics that should be reviewed before the class begins.

If you are placed into a lower math course than desired, you are encouraged to engage in the topics where review is needed before attempting the MPE again. Examples include but are not limited to: reviewing the refresher books listed above, attending structured tutoring or SI Sessions, or taking a course in intermediate algebra at a community college. 

Students must wait at least 60 days before attempting to retake a Math Placement Exam.  MPE results from students who retake prior to the 60 day waiting period will not be processed.  Students are expected to enforce the retake policy when registering for and attending an exam session.