Chemistry & Math Placement: Frequently Asked Questions

If your questions are not answered below, please contact nsstudentservices@ucmerced.edu or (209) 228-2455. 

1. Why do I need to take a placement exam?
Your placement exam score will be combined with your other academic data to determine a recommendation for which Math and Chemistry course you should take at UC Merced. This exam allows your academic advisor to place you into the courses in which you will be most successful.

2. What about my AP scores?
If you scored a 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam, you do not need to take the Math Placement Exam. If you scored a 3 or above on the AP Chemistry exam, you do not need to take the Chemistry Placement Exam. 

3. What about my IB scores? 
Exams must be at the Higher Level (HL). If you scored a 5 or above on the IBH Mathematics exam, you do not need to take the Math Placement Exam.

4. What if I took a college course?
If you passed a UC transferable college Pre-Calculus or higher level Calculus course, you do not need to take the Math Placement Exam. If you passed a UC transferable college Preparatory Chemistry or higher level Chemistry course, you do not need to take the Chemistry placement exam. Please consult your academic advisor for more information.

5. Who has to take the placement exams?
All incoming freshmen students are required to take the MATH placement exam regardless of major. 

All incoming freshmen students with declared majors or who intend to declare majors in the School of Natural Sciences or School of Engineering and any pre-health students or students who intend to take CHEM courses regardless of their major are required to take the CHEM placement exam.

All incoming transfer students that have not taken a UC transferable Pre-Calculus course are required to take the MATH placement exam regardless of major. 

All incoming transfer students that have not taken a UC transferable Preparatory Chemistry course and are required to take CHEM courses for their major or students who intend to take CHEM courses regardless of their major are required to take the CHEM placement exam. 

Students who have passed an AP exam or college-level course in Calculus and/or Chemistry may not need to take the exams. Please refer to the Questions 2 & 3 for more information. 

6. How many questions are on the exams?
There are 25 questions on the Math Placement Exam and 31 questions on the Chemistry Placement Exam. These are timed exams. Remaining time will be listed to the right of the exam questions. THE EXAM WILL BE SUBMITTED ONCE TIME RUNS OUT.

7. What are the time limits on the exams?
You must complete the Math Placement Exam in 30 minutes or less. For the Chemistry Placement Exam you have 60 minutes. Remaining time will be listed to the right of the exam questions. 

* These are timed exams that cannot be paused. The exam will be submitted once time runs out. DO NOT BEGIN THE EXAM UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO COMPLETE THE EXAM IN ONE SITTING.
 

8. Where do I go to take the placement exams?
The exams are available online. Instructions for accessing the exams can be found here

9. What score do I need to place into college level Math and Chemistry?
For Math, you must score 20 out of 25 on the Math Placement Exam to place into Calculus I (MATH 11 or 21, depending on your major).

For Chemistry, a combined score of 40 or above on the Chemistry AND Math Placement Exam is needed to place into General Chemistry (CHEM 2). If you scored a 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam or if you passed a UC transferable college Pre-Calculus or higher level Calculus course, you do not need to take the Math Placement Exam. Please take the Chemistry Placement Exam and we will use your AP Calculus score or college credit in place of the Math Placement Exam to determine your Chemistry placement. 

10. What information do I need for taking the exams?
You need your UCM Net ID (email address without the “@ucmerced.edu”) and password (same one used for checking you email). If you cannot find your UCM information, contact studentsfirst@ucmerced.edu or (209) 228-7178.

11. What materials do I need for taking the exams?
You need some clean scratch paper to work on and a pencil or pen. You will need a modern web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) to take the exam.

Calculators, books, and internet resources are not permitted on the Math placement exam!

12. Why can't I use a calculator on the MATH exam?
The Math placement exam is designed to measure your facility with basic mathematical skills that are needed for different math courses. Due to this, using a calculator will generally not help you - you will score better by knowing the material and working it all out by hand.

13. What if I use a calculator or some other resource on the MATH exam?
The exam is constructed so that someone who spends time looking up answers or working with their calculator will not do as well as someone who knows the material. In addition, placing into a course for which you are not prepared will only hurt you - and your GPA.

14. What math is tested on the MATH placement exam?
This placement exam is a Calculus Readiness Exam. It is an exam on algebra, geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus. This exam contains no Calculus. Rather, this placement exam is meant to determine whether you have the background to succeed in Calculus I at UC Merced.

15. Do I need to study for the exams?
If you have just completed a Math or Chemistry course, you do not need to study. However, if it has been a year since you have had Math or Chemistry, you may want to review.

16. What if something goes wrong while I'm taking the exams?
If your browser crashes or you have a similar problem, immediately go back to resume the exam. It will let you resume where you left off but it does not pause the time. If a technical problem prevents you from completing the placement exams, contact us at nsstudentservices@ucmerced.edu.

17. Who do I contact with other questions regarding the placement exams?
If you have other questions regarding the placement exams, please contact nsstudentservices@ucmerced.edu.

18. What if I DON’T take the placement exam(s) or if I miss the deadline?
Unless you have AP credit or transferable college credit, you will be placed into the preparatory level Math and Chemistry courses, MATH 5 and CHEM 1.

If you feel you had extenuating circumstances that prevented you from completing the exams by the deadline, you may request to take the exams by exception by sending an email to nsstudentservices@ucmerced.edu. These exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis only and submitting a request does not guarantee that you will be permitted to take the exams after the deadline. In your request, include the reason(s) you were unable to complete the exams by the deadline, your student ID number, and your UCM email address.