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Math Placement Exam

The Math Placement Exam (MPE) is used to determine a student's proper placement for enrollment to UC San Diego Entry-Level Math Pathways.

Students who do not meet a prerequisite for enrollment must take the MPE prior to course registration. See Need MPE? to determine if you need to take the MPE.

The Math Testing and Placement Office recommends for students to take the MPE as early as possible and to allow time to review the suggested topics:

MPE 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 students to take an online readiness test to practice for the MPE.  Students receive instant results around the topics of mathematics necessary for success in a first quarter calculus course.  

After receiving diagnostic results, students may engage in MDTP Learning Modules designed to support students’ independent practice in identified MDTP topics.

Additionally, the following books are recommended for reviewing these foundational topics to improve readiness for a first quarter calculus course.  

  • 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)

What you Need for Testing

The following items are needed or permitted for testing:

  • Your UCSD PID number.  Your results cannot be posted if you do not use your PID number.
  • A current photo ID.  Accepted IDs include: UC San Diego ID card, State ID or Passport, or High School ID (for first-year students)
  • (2) Sheets of blank scratch paper
  • #2 pencil and eraser.
  • Calculators are permitted, except for CAS calculators.

Testing Accommodation

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

Test Results

Placement results are entered in the student registration system, and students can register for their qualified math class through WebReg

MPE results are processed and posted every day (except during holidays or campus breaks) during regular office hours the first working day after the test was taken.

To review your results, go to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "GET MPE RESULTS".  You must use your TritonLink login with your PID as the username.

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

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

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

Retake Policy

The MPE is shown to be a valid and reliable measure to predict student achievement in their placed class. Therefore, we do not recommend for students to retake the MPE except when one year has lapsed. (Note: MPE results are only valid for one year.)

Additionally, students should enroll in the class that they are placed to without delay. 

In some cases, students may need to retake the MPE; therefore 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.