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Math Placement at SVSU

Your first math placement is very important to your success in college. It should be neither below nor beyond your preparation level, and it should move you toward the completion of your degree program. We want to make sure your math placement fits you and your needs as closely as possible.

Your initial math placement at SVSU will be based on your ACT Math sub-score*. For information about how the initial mathematics placement is determined, Click Here (75kB)‌. Students may try to improve their initial placement by taking a mathematics placement test. Students may take this placement test no more than 2 times. (Students who entered before Fall 2010 will still abide by the placement policies in place at the time of entrance.) 

NOTE:  Tests will NOT be administered in the time period between the second day of classes and the end of the second week of classes in the Fall and Winter Semesters. This means that a student will not be able to register for a mathematics class unless the appropriate placement has been achieved by the second day of classes. This rule will be strictly enforced, so please plan accordingly.

Students without ACT Math sub-scores must take the mathematics placement test. These students may take the placement test no more than 2 times. Transfer students who do not transfer appropriate coursework to SVSU, but do submit ACT Math sub-scores, will follow the usual procedure for students with ACT scores.

The Math Placement Test

Those students who do not have an ACT Math sub-score, or who wish to exercise the re-test option, will take the math placement test. The math placement test is a COMPASS (Computer-adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System) test, developed by ACT (America College Testing Program). The test is multiple-choice, computer-based, and designed to evaluate students' ability levels in Pre-algebra, Algebra, College Algebra, and Trigonometry. As a computer-adaptive test, the number of and type of questions you are given will be determined by your responses to previous questions. For more information on the COMPASS test, click here (35kB) or visit*

If you are planning to take the placement test, you should know several things:

1. You have only two opportunities to do so.

2. You must schedule in advance to take the placement test. Tests are available limited hours during the week.

Call the Cardinal Testing Center at (989) 964-2820, email, or visit Science East 201 to schedule a test.

(Transfer students who are attending a Transfer Orientation Program (TOP) will have an opportunity to test during their orientation program. You do not need to register to take the test during a TOP.)

3. The test is untimed, but you should allow at least an hour to take the test.

4.You will be asked to show a picture ID before you take the placement re-test.

5. You will be provided with a calculator for your use during the exam. There is also a calculator provided by COMPASS on the computer. To ensure uniformity, no other calculators will be permitted.

6. While you should not cram for the test to avoid placing too high, it is a good idea to review before the test so that you are not placed too low. You are unlikely to improve your placement unless you do some kind of preparation or review.

Math Placement Review

1. Some useful websites with sample problems can are offered by ACT/Compass and other institutions at:

2. To download paper reviews, click on the links below.

3. Feel free to come by the Math & Physics Tutoring Area in the Center for Academic Acheivement and work with one of our tutors. For our current schedule, click here → Finals Week Tutor Schedule (194kB).

*SVSU is in the process of moving to SAT subscores for an initial math placement, and from COMPASS to ACUPLACER as a placement test instrument. We will update the information on the initial math placement and the review information before these changes are made.