WOU: Mathematics Placement Test

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Mathematics Department

Mathematics Placement Test at WOU

Fill out the WOU Math Prerequisite and Placement Guide to see if you need to take the Math Placement Test

Photo ID required, please bring photo ID when you come for your test

What to expect
Topics Covered
Study Resources
Sign Up
SAT/ACT Placement Guidelines
Frequently Asked Questions
Guided self-study prep course options at WOU: MTH 67/68--ALEKS
Compass Placement Test Cut Off Scores

Who has to take the WOU Mathematics Placement Test?

The Mathematics Department at WOU uses SAT/ACT-Math scores to make an initial placement recommendation for new students. If you wish to enter a mathematics course at a higher level than your SAT/ACT score indicates you must take the math placement Test.

You may not need a placement test if you have completed a college level mathematics course at some other college or university, or received AP calculus or AP statistics credit.

Note: some students with particular course prerequisites may also have to take the mathematics placement test. For example, Math 105 is not the prerequisite for Math 111, 211, 251, etc. See the FAQ page for more information.

Students in the following majors take the mathematics placement test during SOAR, during New Student Week or at the beginning of their first term at WOU. Students in these majors will be better served by WOU if they start their mathematics course sequences at the beginning of their first year at WOU.

Major List: Biology, Chemistry, Pre-Medicine, Mathematics, Elementary Education (Pre-K - Middle Authorization), Secondary Education, Mathematics

What should you expect when you take the WOU Mathematics Placement Test?

  • The WOU Mathematics Department uses COMPASS®, which is a computerized, multiple choice test.
  • There is an online non-graphing calculator for your use.
  • You may use the provided calculator (or your own non-graphing calculator) and pencil and paper during the test, but no other materials.
  • The test has questions of increasing difficulty, in approximately the topic order listed below. You will not be asked questions about every topic in the lists; problems are randomly selected and the difficulty of the problems increases as you answer the problems correctly.

What topics are covered on the WOU Mathematics Placement Test?

Numerical skills/ Pre-Algebra

  • Basic operations with integers
  • Basic operations with fractions
  • Basic operations with decimals
  • Percentages
  • Absolute value of numbers
  • Means, medians, modes
  • Multiples and factors of integers
  • Exponents, square roots, scientific notation
  • Conversions between fractions and decimals
  • Order concepts (greater than, less than)
  • Counting problems and basic probability
  • Ratios and proportions


Elementary Algebra

Intermediate Algebra

  • Substituting values into algebraic equations
  • Setting up equations
  • Basic operations with polynomials
  • Factoring of polynomials
  • Formula manipulation
  • Basic operations with linear equations
  • Exponents and radicals
  • Basic operations with linear inequalities
  • Rational expressions
  • Exponents and radicals
  • Systems of linear equations, 2 variables
  • Quadratic formula
  • Absolute value equations
  • Absolute value inequalities

Coordinate Geometry

  • Linear equations in two variables
  • Distance and midpoint formula in the plane
  • Graphing circles, parabolas, etc.
  • Graphing parallel and perpendicular lines
  • Graphing rational functions
  • Graphing systems of equations

College Algebra

  • Functions
  • Exponents
  • Complex Numbers
  • Factorials
  • Roots of polynomials
  • Matrices (basic operations, equations and determinants)
  • Systems of linear equations in three or more variables
  • Logic and proof techniques
  • Arithmetic and geometric sequences and series


  • Triangles (area, perimeter, Pythagorean Theorem)
  • Circles (area, perimeter, arcs, etc.)
  • Rectangles (area, perimeter, etc.)
  • Composite shapes
  • Angles (supplementary, complimentary, adjacent, vertical)


  • Trigonometric functions and identities
  • Right angle trigonometry
  • Trigonometric equations and inequalities

Primary Study Resources

  • The COMPASS Web Site provides some sample questions. The solutions to the sample questions are listed at the end of the sample questions. Please note, this is just a short list of sample questions to help familiarize students with the type of questions on the test. Most students find that more in-depth study is required to place into the appropriate course.
  • Placement Test Preparation Problems for the COMPASS Placement Test (.pdf format)
  • Math Center Free Drop In Tutoring: Take a textbook or the practice problems to the free Math Center Free Drop In Mathematics Tutoring, Hamersly Library 228. Their schedule is posted at wou.edu/mathcenter

Book Study Resources

  • WOU Checkout Resources: The State Adopted text book collection, Hamersly Library, second floor, has a variety of high school mathematics textbooks that you may check out for self study.
  • Quick Guides: Schaum's Outline of Elementary Algebra by B. R. Rich and Schaum's Outline of Intermediate Algebra by Ray Steege, Kerry Bailey are both available at the WOU bookstore
  • Self-Paced Text Introductory Algebra: A Just-In-Time Approach by Alice M. Kaseberg This text, used at several local community colleges, is available in paperback or hardcover.
  • Self-Paced Text Intermediate Algebra:: A Just-In-Time Approach by Alice M. Kaseberg This text, used at several local community colleges, is available in paperback or hardcover.
  • Any standard Introductory Algebra or Intermediate Algebra text will also suffice for a study guide.

Web Resources

Scheduling a time to take the WOU Mathematics Placement Test

Students attending SOAR and/or New Student Week will be given the opportunity to take the Mathematics Placement Test. No additional sign up or appointment is necessary for these students prior to arriving at SOAR or at New Student Week.

Students who wish to take the Mathematics Placement Test during the regular academic year must contact the mathematics office coordinator: Sharon Price, to schedule an appointment.

Students may take the Mathematics Placement Test twice without charge.

Sharon Price
Math & Nursing Building 116


Mathematics Department (503) 838-8465 | or e-mail: pricesl@wou.edu

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