Placement Testing

The Academic Success Center, in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation, the Office of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising, the English Department and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, coordinates Placement Testing for all UMBC undergraduate students.

Placement Testing FAQs

General Testing Questions

Placement testing is offered online from March through August and from November through January. Testing is available 24 hours a day. Students will need testing instructions to enroll in testing.

New, incoming students automatically receive testing instructions in their Orientation Confirmation Emails. Please email placement@umbc.edu if you cannot find this email.

Currently enrolled students who need to take the Math Placement Test can sign up through our online form.

Visiting students interested in taking a summer or winter math course must email placement@umbc.edu. Your email should include your full name and your UMBC Campus ID.

Students with a documented disability may request reasonable accommodations for UMBC placement testing. Students with disabilities seeking accommodations must register with the Office of Student Disability Services and submit appropriate documentation to determine accommodation eligibility. Students are encouraged to complete the SDS registration process with a minimum of two weeks advance notice of the assigned placement testing date.

Directed Self-Placement for English Composition

Beginning in 2021, UMBC students no longer need to take the English Placement Test to enroll in an English Composition course. Students will work with their academic advisors to determine which English composition course is appropriate and then register for that course.

English Department Course Descriptions

Contact:  Carol Fitzpatrick, cfitzpat@umbc.edu

ENGL 100 and ENGL 110 both fulfill the English Composition general education requirement.

ENGL 100

ENGL 100 is a course in critical thinking, reading, and composing, with an emphasis on integrating academic research and documentation. Students read and produce work for a variety of purposes and audiences, focusing on strategies for researching, organizing, drafting, sharing, and revising.

ENGL 110

ENGL 110 is a composition course for students whose first language is other than English or who speak a language other than English at home. Similar to English 100, English 110 is a course in critical thinking, reading, and composing, with an emphasis on integrating academic research and documentation. Students read and produce work for a variety of purposes and audiences, focusing on strategies for researching, organizing, drafting, sharing, and revising. Course work will emphasize academic essay patterns and writing techniques. Students may be assigned additional grammar work if necessary.

Who should take ENGL 110? Watch this video for more information.

English Language Institute (ELI) Course Descriptions

Contact: Ryan Sheldon, sheldo1@umbc.edu

ELI courses do NOT fulfill the English Composition requirement but prepare students to take ENGL 110.

The ELI is an Intensive English Program that offers classes to language learners of all levels.  Our Academic English Program (AEP) is designed for current or future degree seeking students who are in need of additional practice with their reading and writing skills.  More information on these classes can be found at http://eli.umbc.edu/aep.php.

ELC 41/51
These courses are designed to prepare advanced English Language students to develop academic writing skills to write in English with university-level competence and accuracy. Students develop their skills with the writing process, academic vocabulary, advanced grammatical structures, presentation and analysis of research topics, and narrative and persuasive writing. Students learn to write for specific audiences and purposes and to produce a research paper.

ELC 42/52
These courses are designed to work in tandem with ELC 41/51 to help advanced English learners develop critical reading skills using a variety of source materials. Readings may include articles, non-fiction writing gathered from a wide range of genres, and data presentations. Students will develop advanced comprehension skills and be able to identify major points and types of support, separate fact from opinion, and analyze vocabulary used in the text.

College credit for the English Composition General Education Requirement can be achieved in four ways:

  1. Successful completion of English 100 or English 110 with a grade of “C” or better within the first 30 credits of enrollment at UMBC. 
  2. Advanced Placement (AP) Exams 
    • English Language and Composition (4 or higher)
    • English Literature and Composition (4 or higher)
  3. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Testing
    • College Composition (67 or higher)
    • The following exams are also equivalent to ENGL100: English Comp with Essay, Freshman Comp with Essay, or College Comp Modular with essay.
  4. Transfer credit
    • Any course that transfers in exactly as ENGL 100 or ENGL 110, and not a “100-level Elective”—this credit MUST be on file with the Office of the Registrar by Orientation or before you register for courses.

If you are transferring from any community college in Maryland, you can use the ARTSYS website as a guide for transferring courses. Please note that UMBC’s transfer policies may change without being reflected on the ARTSYS website. The Academic Success Center does NOT handle any external testing scores. Please visit the Office of the Registrar’s website for more information about transfer credit and transfer policies.

Testing scores do NOT transfer from one institution to another. Scores must be sent from the testing institution to UMBC. UMBC’s CEEB code is 5835.

Math Placement Test

The Math Placement Test determines your placement into Math courses at UMBC. Your Math placement also affects which Science courses you can take at UMBC. The Math Placement Test is administered through ALEKS and uses their ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment. All students are required to take the Math Placement Test unless they have any course credit or exam scores that would exempt them from testing.

The ALEKS PPL Math Placement Test covers topics in numerical operations, algebraic operations, geometry, and trigonometry.  It is a 30 question adaptive test designed to accurately assess your current Math ability and to determine which Math course should be your first Math course at UMBC. You will have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the ALEKS PPL Math Placement Test. Calculators and outside resources are not allowed on the exam. After you complete the test, you will see your score and Math Placement.

The ALEKS PPL Math Placement Test has a brief tutorial which shows you how to input responses; however there is no practice test before the actual test. If you would like to prepare for the test, we recommend you use a website like Khan Academy to review. Please be advised that the test is meant to assess your current Math ability and the goal of the assessment is for you to be placed into an appropriate course where you will be successful. Attempting to cram information right before the test or teach yourself topics that you have never learned in order to get a higher score may result in you taking a course that you are not prepared to take.

Specific topics that may be covered on the test include:

  • Real numbers (including fractions, integers, and percentages)
  • Equations and inequalities (including linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations)
  • Linear and quadratic functions (including graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas)
  • Exponents and polynomials (including integer exponents, polynomial arithmetic, factoring, and polynomial equations)
  • Rational expressions (including rational equations and rational functions
  • Radical expressions (including higher roots and rational exponents)
  • Exponentials and logarithms (including function compositions and inverse functions, properties of logarithms, and logarithmic equations)
  • Geometry and trigonometry (including perimeter, area, and volume, coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, and identities and equations).

All Math Placement Test scores are tied to a specific milestone that allows you to register for classes. Some UMBC majors require you to take Calculus, but others do not.

If you are in a major which requires Calculus, you are on the Calculus Path. If your major does not require Calculus, you are on the Non-Calculus Path

Non-Calculus Path Math PLC Milestone Level and Placement Score Calculus Path
MATH 104 Milestone Level 1
0-29%
Retake Math Placement Test
MATH 104 Milestone Level 2
30-49%
MATH 106 
MATH 120 or STAT 121 Milestone Level 3
50-60%
MATH 106 
MATH 120, MATH 131, MATH 132, or STAT 121 Milestone Level 4
61-75%
MATH 150, MATH 155 
MATH 120, MATH 131, MATH 132, or STAT 121 Milestone Level 5
76-100%
MATH 151,  MATH 155, MATH 215 

All students who have not yet taken a Math course at UMBC are allowed to retake their Math Placement Test if they are unsatisfied with their scores. If you feel that you did not meet your placement goal, you can retest up to two more times. The retest does not have to happen during your current testing window—you have one year or until you start your first Math course at UMBC (whichever comes first) to retake the Math Placement Test.

Before you decide to take the Math Placement Test again, please consider the following information:

  • If you have already taken a MATH course at UMBC (even if you withdrew), you CANNOT take the Math Placement Test again to skip a course.
  • You can retake the Math Placement Test up to two times by accessing the ALEKS system within one year of your first test attempt. After one year, you cannot retest until your current Math Placement expires.
  • There is a mandatory 72 hour “cooling off” period after you first complete the Math Placement Test. In order to take the Math Placement Test again, you MUST wait at least 72 hours AND spend 5 hours working in the Prep and Learning Module for your target course. To have the best chance of being successful, you should aim to master 80% of the topics in the Prep and Learning Module.
  • If you are attempting to test for the third and final time, you MUST wait an additional 72 hours and AND spend 8 hours working in the Prep and Learning Module for your target course.
  • If you retake the Math Placement Test, only the highest score is kept.

After considering all of these things, if you would still like to retake the Math Placement test, please email placement@umbc.edu. You will be asked to confirm that you understand the above information. Once you have confirmed that you understand the information, arrangements will be made for you to return to the Prep and Learning Module and eventually retest.

Please be advised that it will take 24-48 hours for your Math Placement Test score to update. This process is automated and cannot be rushed.