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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Assessment and placement
    • Do I have to take the assessment test in math?
      • If your SAT math score is 550 or higher, you may enroll in MA 110, MA 113, MA 115, MA 116, MA 130, or MA 160 without taking the  assessment test.

        Students who have a 600 on the SAT math test can enroll in MA180 as well.

        Students who have a 650 and have had precaclulus in high school should see the math department if they wish to take MA181.

        All students whose SAT score is not high enough for the class they desire should take the  assessment test.

        The assessment test is only used to place students in courses up to and including Calculus I [MA 181]. If you believe you qualify for a mathematics course above the level of MA 181, please see an advisor in the Mathematics Department.

        Other exemptions from assessment testing include:

        • Students with an associate's degree or higher from a U.S. accredited college or university.
        • Students who have been out of college for at least three years and who intend to take a math course are advised to take the Accuplacer test.
        • Students enrolling with a letter of permission from another college or university.

        With certain exceptions, the following students must participate in assessment testing:

        • New, degree-seeking students.
        • Students planning to transfer.
        • Students taking their first math course.
        • Students on restriction who have not taken the Accuplacer or LOEP test.
        • Students enrolled in a course with a required skill level or prerequisite, who do not meet any of the exemptions above.
    • Should I prepare for the assessment test?
      • Yes! Your score on the assessment test is the main criteria used to place you in the most appropriate mathematics class at Montgomery College. Please take some time to review the practice tests before you take the assessment test. This should give you a score that most accurately reflects what you know.

    • How do I prepare for taking the test?
      • Take the sample math tests:  Prealgebra Practice TestAlgebra PracticeTest, and  College Math Practice Test, online to determine your areas of weakness.

        Study using the Math Study Web Sites, or find a copy of a high school or college-level algebra text (try the public library or MC Library if you're currently a student).

        Take Montgomery College's On-Line Accuplacer Math Sample test(Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, College Level Mathematics) & continue to study...

        Check the schedule for assessment/placement testing by calling or visiting the Assessment Center on the campus where you plan to take most of your classes. Take your test as soon as you can in advance of the registration period.

    • Can I retake the assessment test if I don’t place as high as I think I should?
      • If you wish to retake an assessment test, talk with a counselor or advisor on your campus to obtain a signed Student Referral for Retesting Form. Present the form at the Assessment Center on the campus where you wish to enroll and request an appointment to retake the test.

        Fast Track Arithmetic and Algebra Review course is offered each August and January. You are eligible if you place into MA 090 or MA 091 AND you have passed Algebra I or above in high school. After completing this two-week course, you may retake the assessment test.

        Advanced FAST TRACK is a twenty-hour intensive review of elementary algebra and intermediate algebra. Students who successfully complete Advanced FAST TRACK will be eligible to take a college level math course. For information, call the Rockville Campus Math/Science Center at (240) 567-5200 or Continuing Education at (240) 567-2599.

    • Can I use my SAT score in math for placement purposes?
      • If your SAT math score is 550 or higher, you may enroll in MA 110, MA 113, MA 115, MA 116, MA 130, or MA 160 without taking the assessment test. Students with an SAT math score of 600 or higher may enroll in MA 180. It is recommended that all students wishing to enroll in MA 180 or MA 181 take the assessment test. The assessment test is only used to place students in courses up to and including Calculus I (MA 181). If you believe you qualify for a mathematics course above the level of MA 181, please see an advisor in the Mathematics Department.

  • Credit for previous learning  
  • Degrees and Majors  
  • Questions about courses
    • What is the difference between MA 160 and MA 181?
      • MA 160 is a general calculus course primarily for business, social science, and certain life science students. Topics include algebraic, exponential, and logarithmic functions and their graphs; an intuitive approach to limits, differentiation, integration, and functions of several variables. Major emphasis is on applications in business, economics, and the life sciences. Trigonometry is not included, and Precalculus, MA180, is not a prerequisite.

        MA 181 and MA 182 are intended primarily for students of the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics. MA 181 and MA 182 encompass an introduction to the major ideas of single variable calculus including limits, derivatives, and integrals of algebraic and transcendental functions and their applications. A solid foundation in college algebra and trigonometry (Precalculus) is necessary for the MA 181/182 sequence. MA 160 is not open for credit to students who have a grade of C or better in MA 181 or its equivalent.

    • My placement score is high enough to take MA 110, but my counselor told me to take MA 103. Which one is right?
      • Your counselor is probably correct. MA 110 is a terminal college level mathematics course. MA 103 prepares you for a sequence of college-level math courses your course of study may require (especially if you have a weak algebra background or have not taken a math course in over a year). Discuss with your counselor the pros and cons of taking either course, and, if necessary, speak with an advisor in the mathematics department.

    • Do I have to take MA 180 before MA 160?
      • No. MA 180 is a prerequisite for MA 181, not MA 160.

    • Do I have to take MA 105 before MA 180?
      • Yes. MA 105 covers the trigonometry you will need to know for MA 180. A grade of C or better in MA 103 and MA 105, an appropriate score on the mathematics assessment test, or consent of the department is required for you to take MA 180. You can take MA 105 during the first part of the semester you are taking MA 180 with special permission from the department.

    • Do I have to take MA 103 before MA180?
      • No. Students can take MA 103 and MA 105 concurrently, however it is recommended that the student take MA 105 the second half of the semester.

    • I've taken MA103, now what are my options?  
  • Miscellaneous Questions
    • Is it a good idea to take math courses in the summer?
      • Your success in a math course taken over the summer will depend greatly on your ability to process a lot of information in a short timeframe and the amount of time you are able to dedicate to homework and studying outside of class. Summer courses move at an accelerated pace. Students should generally prepare to spend at least two hours outside of class for each hour the class meets. Students who prefer shorter class meeting times (i.e. 50-minute classes) or who have time constraints should consider taking their math courses during the fall and spring semesters instead of over the summer.

    • I’m just not “good at math” – what can I do?
      • Enroll in DS 112, Building Math Confidence. This course is designed for students who want to improve their attitude toward mathematics, and explores feelings and develops strategies to overcome math anxiety.

    • If I failed my first two tests in my math courses, is there any hope? What should I do?
      • Set up a meeting with your professor to discuss your progress in the course. Take your tests so the two of you can go over the mistakes you have been making. From this discussion you should be able to determine if the mistakes you have been making warrant more studying on your part, getting a tutor, remediation in a particular area where you lack the prerequisite skills, or withdrawing from the class. Whatever you decide to do – act fast! If you have failed two tests, then you are already in an “up-hill” struggle to pass the course.

    • Who is the best teacher for MA XXX?
      • Teaching styles vary, and some may be better suited for your particular learning style than others. First, determine what kind of learner you are. Do you excel in classes where there is more interaction and group activity, a more traditional lecture format, or something in between? Get a list of the instructors teaching the course, and go by and talk with them or just pick up a course syllabus to get an idea of the instructor’s course policy and expectations.

    • I tried to register online for math, and I have the correct math score/prerequisite course—it still doesn’t work. What is wrong?
      • Many students may need to talk with a counselor or advisor before they attempt to register via the Web. Counselors can check the student’s record to determine if the student has completed the required prerequisite, then set an electronic approval code. Counselors are available on a walk-in basis. For counseling times and telephone numbers, please go to  Advising and Counseling.


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