Think the testing is done once the acceptance letters arrive? Think again!

With school applications complete for our elementary, middle and high school students, all of our families can breathe a sigh of relief. The hard work of SATs, ACTs,  APs, ISEEs, HSPTs, and SSATs are done!

But, lo! The testing isn’t completed! It takes some students and parents by surprise that there’s another set of Math testing looming. Though nothing like the standardized tests the students have conquered, students and parents need to be ready for a math placement test at the new school in the Spring. School to school is different, but most universities and a few Upper schools require students to take a Math placement test. There are a few types of testing, but, in general, students should expect to see a range of material beginning in simple whole numbers problems to more advanced algebra. We’ve outlined the testing below in the hopes that students can be prepared for the test and know how to review leading up to the date instead of prepping with a few fly-by-night cram sessions.

Elementary and Middle School Math Placement Tests

Most schools in the LA area have their own individual tests they use for their incoming students. There is not a set or prescribed placement test, though they will take submitted ERB/ISEE scores and transcripts into account, they want a thorough and accurate read in the sub-categories of Math to make sure they have Math classes with a fair distribution of abilities. Schools consider it a huge hindrance to the teachers and students to have a wide range of Math abilities in a class as it affects their instruction time when they need to teach or re-teach concepts to a pool of students while another group of students needs to complete busy work while they wait for their turn. Accurately sorted academic groups play a big part in a school’s success story as it means the needs of the students are met precisely at their point of need and they can move efficiently to the next concept with their peers. In preparing your student for this test, please consider that their coursework from their current school may not have covered certain concepts and, rather than cram and try to teach an entire Geometry course in 3 weeks to get them a level ahead in Math, it is still in their best interest to learn the full course in school. However, in preparation for a Math placement test, reviewing notes and going back to some of the Math basics will prepare your student best to perform well and place in a Math course that best reflects their skill and ability level.

The tests themselves are not adaptive, so students will have a range of questions to answer and should have prepared in advance. The following are topics at each grade level that students should be prepared to answer.

5th and 6th Grade Placement Tests

Topics:

  • Decimals
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Fractions, including Applications and Representations
  • Geometric Measurement & Coordinate Geometry
  • Integers
  • Patterns and Sequences

7th and 8th Grade Placement Tests

Topics:

  • Data Analysis & Statistics
  • Decimals & Percents; Absolute Value
  • Fractions, including Applications
  • Geometric Measurement & Coordinate Geometry
  • Integers
  • Literals & Equations
  • Proportions
  • Data Analysis & Probability & Statistics
  • Decimals & Percents; Absolute Value
  • Fractions, including Applications
  • Geometric Measurement & Coordinate Geometry
  • Integers
  • Literals & Equations
  • Proportional Reasoning

High School Placement Tests

Topics:

  • Elementary operations with numerical and algebraic functions
  • Operations with exponents and radicals
  • Linear equations and inequalities
  • Polynomials and polynomial equations
  • Functions
  • Mathematical modeling — word problems.
  • Data Analysis & Probability & Statistics
  • Decimals, including Applications; Percents: Absolute Value
  • Exponents & Square Roots; Scientific Notation
  • Fractions, including Applications
  • Functions and their Representations
  • Geometry
  • Integers

College Math Placement

The majority of colleges use a test called the Acuplacer: a test designed by The College Board. This computerized adaptive test covers a range of reading and Math topics. The purpose of the Math section is to survey the skills a High School Graduate should know based on National Content Standards. There is no time limit for this test, and there are remote testing options for students coming out of state.

Other college Math placement tests are the ELM test, the CLEP, and the UC Readiness Exam. All tests, adaptive or paper, contain the same basic principles and students should go into them with a strong review of their mental math and a review of their notes from the Math courses for the last two years – that’s right, keep those Math notes and study guides, 11th and 12th graders!!

Our goal for our families is preparedness over panic, so we give you this information and pointers to make this last step of the admissions process seamless. Our best advice is to keep on top of the Math coursework throughout the year and set aside chapter tests and notes. A month before the placement test, spend about an hour to an hour and a half a week going over past tests and find sample problems to help review and reinforce concepts that are unclear. The goal is not to cheat the system and skip a class, the goal is to optimize the next stage of learning and get the most of the time future that your student will be spending in their class by solidifying concepts now rather than re-learning them in class next year.

Davidson does have instructors on hand and review material to assist in the preparation process for these tests. The best course of action is to review ahead of time and have notes ready during the session for the topics that need re-teaching or additional review.

 

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