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Math Diagnostic


Getting started in the correct math course for you is important, so we have put together some resources to:

  • Help you understand the math courses at Morris
  • Explain our Math Diagnostic (which helps you determine which course is right for you)
  • Assist in your preparation for the Math Diagnostic Exam


Here are the courses in which a freshman typically enrolls:

Typical Freshman Math Course Path

The arrows indicate prerequisites, so if you needed Calculus I for your major you would need to have mastered:

  • Precalculus I: Functions
  • Precalculus II: Trigonometry

before taking Calculus I.

Excursions in Math
Excursions in Math has no prerequisites other than high school math—this course meets the M/SR General Education requirement, but relies only minimally on the algebra you learned in high school. It is typically taken by Elementary Education majors who are not pursuing the Math Sub-plan, or any student who wishes to meet a general education requirement but are not planning to take any further math courses (this course does not prepare you to take Calculus I, for example).
Survey of Calculus
Survey of Calculus is an introduction to calculus that does not involve any trigonometry. It is an option for students who major in Biology, or any student who wants to meet the M/SR General Education requirement by learning some more about what calculus is all about.
Calculus I
Calculus I is an introduction to calculus that will use trigonometry, and is required for students who plan to major in Chemistry, Economics, Environmental Science, Financial Management, Geology, Math, Physics, or Statistics. Computer Science majors typically take Calculus I, and Biology students may also take Calculus I for the Biology major.

The courses Basic Algebra, PreCalculus I: Functions, and PreCaluclus II: Trigonometry are also frequently taken by Freshmen who need to build their mathematical skills before preceding to Survey of Calculus or Calculus I.

Basic Algebra
Basic Algebra reviews the algebra you will use in PreCalculus I and PreCalculus II. It generally moves at a slower pace than the precalculus courses.
PreCalculus I
Functions reviews the concept of functions and properties of functions you will use in Survey of Calculus, Calculus I and beyond.
PreCalculus II
Trigonometry reviews the trigonometry you will use in Calculus I and beyond.

You can find more detailed descriptions of all our courses in the Morris Catalog.


Morris offers exemption from Calculus I and/or Calculus II to those who do well in AP calculus, according to the following scale of performance.

  • Automatic exemption from Calculus I and II for AP calculus B/C score of 4 or 5.
  • Automatic exemption from Calculus I for AP calculus B/C score of 3 or AP calculus A/B score of 5.
  • Exemption (subject to mathematics faulty approval) from Calculus I , for AP calculus A/B score of 4.
  • An AP calculus A/B score of 3 does not gain an exemption for Calculus I.
  • Automatic exemption from Survey of Calculus for AP calculus A/B score of 3 or 4.

For all other students intending to do a mathematics course in their first year, advice is given based on a combination of their performance in a diagnostic ‘placement’ test, their ACT math subscore and information on previous math courses they have done.


The Test

This computer-based, diagnostic test consists of 40 short multiple-choice questions. It tests the level of your command in three areas of precalculus mathematics - basic algebra (14 questions), functions (13 questions), and trigonometry (13 questions).

The purpose is to assess the level of your command of the material in each section. A preliminary recommendation is made, based on various combinations of scores. A table of these equivalencies is below. This preliminary recommendation is conveyed to your advisor, who considers it in conjunction with other relevant information before giving a further recommendation.

The levels at which the preliminary recommendations are made are based on correlation, made over several years, with student success rate in the subsequent course entered. They are chosen to anticipate a 90% success rate at the grade of 'C' or above in the course a student enters.


In order that your true level of mastery may be determined it is recommended that you review material before doing the test. This advice is especially true for those who may not have taken any mathematics for several months or even a year.

Practice material for the test is available for download:

Students may take a practice exam online.

Most students will take the placement exam before they come to Morris to register for classes and current students can retake it at no charge. You will have up to 60 minutes to complete the exam. The placement exam is eight pages with five questions on each page. You may not use a calculator. 

When you are ready to take the Math placement exam, login using your username and password. Be sure to "Grade Test" when you finish, then contact the Morris Test Center who will retrieve the result for you.

If you are a current student or have taken the placement exam earlier, you may need your access to be reset. Please contact the Morris Test Center for assistance.

Repeat testing

If you are dissatisfied with your initial performance, you have the opportunity to complete a repeat test. This may be done before classes begin in the fall or remotely, as above.

A difficult choice

Students who are recommended to start in Basic Algebra have a difficult choice as the credits for this course do not count towards graduation, though they do count for financial aid and athletic activity requirements. Some students given this recommendation attempt to start at the next level, Precalculus I. The success rate for these students at the grade of 'C' or above is historically at the 50% level, with very, very few students gaining a grade higher than the 'C' level in precalculus. The Mathematics Discipline's strong recommendation is that you should build a firm foundation in your mathematics skills before proceeding!


The introductory mathematics courses and their prerequisites are:

Course Prerequisite
Calculus I
  • Precalculus I
  • Precalculus II
Survey of Calculus
  • Precalculus I
Precalculus II
  • Basic Algebra
Precalculus I
  • Basic Algebra

Based on the score in each section of the math diagnostic test (Trigonometry, Functions, Algebra) each row of the table below indicates which prerequisite a student is deemed to have satisfied. When you take the math placement test you and your advisor will receive notification of your recommended math course. What follows explains how that recommendation was determined.

Prerequisite satisfied Placement Test Score Points (max 7)
Precalculus II: Trig (Math 1013) 7-13 on Trigonometry portion If yes, 4pts; If no, 0 pts
Precalculus I: Functions (Math 1012) 9-13 on Functions portion If yes, add 2 pts
Basic Algebra (Math 901)

8-14 on Algebra portion


9-13 on Functions portion


7-13 on Trigonometry portion

If yes to any, add 1 pt max


Based on your score calculated from your total math placement points, the following is recommended:

Total Points Recommended Course Therefore, exempt from: Math Student Group
Calculus I (Math 1101) - OR - Survey of Calculus (Math 1021; biology, environmental science, geology, and financial management majors) Precalculus I and II MAT5
Precaculus I: Functions (Math 1012; coreq for Chem 1101) Precalculus II


3 Precalculus II: Trig (Math 1013) - OR - Survey of Calculus (Math 1021) Precalculus I MAT3
1 Precalculus I: Functions (Math 1012; coreq for Chem 1101) - AND/OR - Precalculus II: Trig (Math 1013) Basic Algebra MAT2
0 Basic Algebra (Math 0901) MAT1