What you should know about the Math Placement Exam (MPE)

Blog Header: Math Placement Exam (MPE)

All CSU majors require at least three credits of mathematics to graduate. The Math Placement Exam (MPE) is a tool to guide you into the right math course(s) for your abilities and degree plan. Learn more about whether you need to take the MPE and why taking it is beneficial.

What is the MPE?

The Math Placement Exam (MPE) is a multiple-choice test that determines which math course(s) you’re ready to take at CSU based on your abilities. If you’re an incoming student for Fall 2017, you can take the exam wherever you have online access through August 16th. After that, you’ll take the MPE in a supervised setting.

Am I required to take the MPE?

Most incoming freshmen and transfers take the MPE. The best way to know whether you need it is to use the “Do I Need the MPE?” tool, which will tell you whether it is required, recommended, or not necessary based upon your academic history.

As a general guideline, you are not required to take the MPE if you meet at least one of the following exceptions:

  • You’ve earned a score of 3 or higher on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam.
  • You’ve earned a score of 4 or higher on the IB Mathematics exam.
  • You’ve earned a grade of C- or better in a transferable college-level math course.

If you don’t yet have your AP/IB exam results or your official transfer evaluation, plan to take the MPE before Ram Orientation and then tell your advisor about your pending AP/IB exam results or transfer credit.

Why should I take it?

Unless you have AP/IB results or transfer coursework that satisfies your math graduation requirement(s), you will be expected to complete one or more math classes at CSU.

The amount and type of math you’ll be required to take will depend upon your major and your math background. The MPE is designed to help you move most quickly and efficiently into the math course that’s right for you.

Completing the MPE before Ram Orientation will benefit you in a few big ways:

  1. You’ll be able to register for a full range of courses.
    • Without the MPE, you won’t be able to register for any CSU math courses.
    • Additionally, you’ll need to demonstrate sufficient algebra skills on the MPE in order to register for courses in chemistry, economics, physics, and computer science.
  2. It ensures that you’ll be placed in a math course that matches your abilities.
    • You cannot fail the MPE. All students who take the MPE are placed into a CSU math course. The MPE ensures that it’s the right math course for your current skills.
  3. It will help you to be academically successful and graduate on time.
    • Students perform better in college math if they take math as soon as possible, while their high school math skills are freshest.
    • Additionally, completing math within the first 45 college credits (three full-time semesters) increases the likelihood of on-time graduation. Students must complete the math graduation requirement by the time they’ve earned 60 college credits.

Is there a cost?

Yes. A one-time fee will be billed directly to your student account, allowing you to take the MPE up to three times.

How does it work?

  1. Read through the details on the MPE website.
  2. Utilize the ‘Do I need the MPE?’ tool.
  3. Log in to the MPE website (eID required) to see customized instructions about your testing options.
    • Logging in to the MPE website does not cause the exam to start; it does allow you to access information specific to your academic record.
  4. Prepare.
    • It’s a fact: taking time to prepare for exams results in better performance. Follow our MPE study guide to help you get ready.
  5. Take the exam online when you’re ready.
    • You’ll have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the MPE.
    • If you’re taking the MPE from a remote/off-campus location, plan to be in a quiet setting with no interruptions.
    • Take the MPE at least one week prior to Ram Orientation so your academic advisor has your results.
  6. View your results.
    • Your results will be available online immediately after you take the exam.
  7. Not satisfied with your results?
    • Log in to the MPE site to view your updated options.
    • You may be eligible to take the MPE up to two additional times in a proctored (supervised) setting.

Have questions?

Direct your MPE questions to the PACe office at (970) 491-5761 or pace@math.colostate.edu. Be sure to include your full name and CSU ID in any email correspondence.

Ready to start studying?

Check out our MPE study tips.


Jill Baylis

Jill is part of the communications team in the Office of Admissions. As a first-generation college student, she works hard to simplify the college admissions process and enjoys helping future Rams connect to their interests. In her free time you can usually find her at a local concert or rolling through town on her single speed.