Diagnostic and Advanced Placement Tests

All incoming freshmen are required to complete the Freshman Math Diagnostic Exam. This exam assesses a student's mathematical background. Access to the test, as well as relevant dates and deadlines can be found by logging into placement.caltech.edu. The scores on this test are used to determined placement in Math 1a. Students are placed into 1 of 3 groups

  1. Students who appear to have gaps in their background knowledge are placed into Math 1a Section 1. This section has a different instructor than the remaining Math 1a sections and meets 4 times per week. This course moves at a slower pace to ensure that students have a solid mathematical foundation on which to build upon. Enrollment in this section is non-negotiable and is determined solely by the scores on the diagnostic test. Students in Math 1a Section 1 go on to enroll in regular section of Math 1b while also taking Math 1d. Math 1d covers the material not covered in Math 1a Section 1 that was covered in the other Math 1a sections. This ensures that the students will be fully caught up with their peers in time for Math 1c, which they will enroll in with all other freshmen. Enrollment in Math 1a Section 1 is not punitive. In fact, students enrolled in this section often go on to be more successful in Math 1b and 1c, when compared to their peers.
  2. Students who do well on the diagnostic test, but may have some areas in which to improve, will be enrolled in Math 1a as well as Math 8. Math 8 provides additional practice with problem solving in calculus and demonstrates the rigor at which we expect solutions to be constructed at Caltech. Students registered in Math 8 are required to attend the first week of class. After which time, they may be able to drop the course, if desired.
  3. Students who do exceptionally well on the diagnostic test enroll in Math 1a. These students have the option of enrolling in Math 8, if they want to have additional practice.

Advanced placement tests will be available in the summer before freshman year through placement.caltech.edu. Information about dates and deadlines are available there. Placement out of Math 1a, 1b, 1c, 2 and 3 is only available by successfully completing these tests in the summer. We do not accept grades in courses at other institutions. No additional opportunities to write these tests will be available. No student is required to complete any of these exams.