Placement Tests

(click here to access a PDF version of this chapter)

The University of Montana utilizes placement tests to determine initial placement in writing, math, foreign language and chemistry. Placement tests measure readiness, not aptitude. 

1.    Math Placement (

All incoming freshmen (and transfer students still needing to meet their math requirement) must take a math placement exam before registering for a math course at The University of Montana. (Students who enter UM with Advanced Placement or college-level credit in math are exempt from this requirement.)

The University uses ALEKS, a web-based, artificial intelligence testing and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to identify any strengths and weaknesses in math, and determine a placement level. The ALEKS score and intended major are then used to help identify the most appropriate math course.

Students access the test at The course code is MAHXU XDVMA (K4VET DGGQ3 for Missoula College students). If students must retake the test, they will need to create a unique log in by placing a “1” in front of their student ID number (790).

**Students may not register for a math course above the ALEKS placement level.**

If the ALEKS Placement is: The student may enroll in any of the following:
Level 1 M 065 Prealgebra
Level 2 M 90 Intro Algebra
M 111 Technical Mathematics (MSLA College only)
Level 3 M 095 Intermediate Algebra
M 104 Numbers as News (JRNL majors only)
M 105 Contemporary Mathematics
M 115 Probability & Linear Math
Level 4 M 121 College Algebra
M 122 Trigonometry
M 135 Math for K-12 Teachers I
M 151 Precalculus
Level 5 (Also referred to as
"Out of Level 4")

M 162 Applied Calculus
M 171 Calculus I
M 172 Calculus II

2.    Languages (Text provided by Modern and Classical Languages and Literature Department)

What is the MCLL World Language Placement Exam?

The Placement Exam is a nationally recognized Computer Adaptive Placement Exam, first created for Brigham Young University. It is a free, online program and is administered at the MCLL office and during Orientation. Students are tested in a multiple choice format on reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. The test is timed; the average completion time is 30 minutes. Please inform the department if special accommodation is needed prior to testing.

What languages are tested?

Currently MCLL tests only Spanish, German, and French. Students with an interest in or prior experience with Russian, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Latin, and Arabic can contact Olivia White at 243-2401 or to set up an appointment with the respective sections.

Who should take the Placement Exam?

Students with prior language experience who are interested in “testing out” of their general education language requirements; students wishing to major or minor in French, German, or Spanish; transfer students with partial credit from another institution. Students with prior college credit or AP credit do not necessarily need to take the exam, but are welcome to do so.

How do you schedule an exam?

Students must contact Olivia White ( to schedule exams. Group tests will be scheduled during Orientation, that schedule is determined by the registrar. Individual exams are also offered during Orientation in the event that a student’s schedule conflicts with the test time.

How much does the exam cost?

The Placement Exam is free.

How many times can the exam be taken?

The exam can be taken multiple times. It is progressive, so each exam is different. However, if a student needs to retake the test more than three times it is recommended that they take the course.

Is the test timed?

The test is timed. Most students complete the exam in about 30 minutes. Time may be considered in the score, particularly if the test is taken remotely (this option is only for students placing into a higher level language class). Remote testing is based on the honor system, students may not use online translation programs, dictionaries, or any outside assistance. This exam is designed to test general knowledge. If the test administrator has a question about the score students will be asked to retest at the MCLL office. Please see the University of Montana policy on Academic Integrity [] If the student requires special accommodation the student or their advisor should inform the MCLL office prior to the exam.

When are results received?

Results are immediate. Any scores testing students out of 102 (second semester elementary level) and above are recorded on the SOATEST form in Banner. Scores are usually entered into SOATEST immediately after the test results are received. Students are asked to keep a copy of their result sheet for their advisor. Results
MUST be discussed with a major advisor. A stamped and authorized copy of the testing results is available upon request from the MCLL office.

Is credit received for the exam?

No credit is given for this exam; a student who tests out of the general education requirement (testing out of 101 and 102) will have the credits for this course waived by their advisor upon successful completion of their Major.

3.    Writing Placement

The MUS Writing Assessment Score (“MUSWA”), ACT or SAT Writing Sub-score or section, Combined English/Writing ACT or AP Language and Composition (NOT the AP Literature and Composition test!) are used for placement into Mountain Campus Writing courses as shown below. Where there are multiple scores indicating conflicting placements, the highest placement is used.

Decision Rule MUS Writing Assessment Score SAT or ACT WritingSub-score SAT Writing Section Combined English/Writing ACT AP Lang. & Comp.* Course Placement
Score in any of these ranges 5.5-6 11-12 700-800 32-36 3-5* WRIT 201**
3.5-5 7-10 440-690 18-31 n/a WRIT 101
2.5-3 5-6 390-430 16-17 n/a WRIT 095 or take placement exam to challenge placement
Score below any of these cut-offs Below 2.5 Below 5 Below 390 Below 16 n/a WRIT 095

*Through the Academic Year (AY) 2013-14,AP Language and Composition exam scores of 3 or above transfer in as 6 credits and fulfill the WRIT 101 General Education Requirement.  Please refer to

Students entering UM without WRIT 101 or one of the tests listed, or those wishing to challenge their initial placement should take the Challenge exam. The test is administered online during the semester and in-person at each Orientation.  It is open to new and continuing students; no reservation is required.  Students must bring their student ID and a pen or pencil.  Students who are non-native English speakers may use an electronic translating device.  Students with disabilities may contact Disability Services in advance to arrange for accommodations.   

Beginning spring 2016 semester, the WRIT Placement Exam is offered online via Moodle.  Students can email and provide their names and student ID numbers.  Using that information, the Department of English will add them to the WRIT Placement Moodle shell so that they can submit their placement exam electronically and take as much time as they need.  Continuing students may submit electronically or attend one of the face-to-face exams.

Questions regarding the Writing Assessment should be directed to Maria Mangold at 243-6976.

Banner SOATEST screen codes used for WRIT placement:

Test scores
WRIT 095 1
WRIT 101 3
WRIT 201 3*
WRIT 101 exemption 4

*WRIT 201 eligibility noted in SFASRPO, additional entry in SOATEST, and student notification via email regarding differences between 101 and 201. WRIT 201 satisfies both the WRIT 101 General Education Requirement and the lower-division approved writing course General Education Requirement.  It’s a “double-dip” course.

**The presence of the ALPH code in SOATEST indicates fall enrollment eligibility.  Spring registration is unrestricted.
For information on the Writing and math placement tests for Missoula College students, please see

4.    Chemistry Placement

There are two Chemistry tracks at UM: CHMY 121N for students requiring one year or less of chemistry and CHMY 104/141 for students intending to take two or more years of chemistry. The Chemistry Placement Exam is required ONLY for students whose major calls for them to take either CHMY 141N College Chemistry I or CHMY 104 Preparation for Chemistry in the first semester.  Students have access to the test in Moodle if they are in a major that requires CHMY 141N. They will also be able to access the placement test if they contact Jimmy Stevens (

CHMY 121N Introduction to General Chemistry

    • Chemistry Placement Exam is not required.
    • Pre-requisite is placement into Level 3 math or higher. Students with a math placement score below 3 are advised to delay the start of their chemistry sequence until they have completed the algebra sequence for their major.
    • Majors and concentrations requiring CHMY 121: Pre-Nursing, Pre-Physical Therapy, the Biological Education Option, the Ecology and Organismal Biology Option with One Year of Chemistry, the Field Ecology Option, the Human Biological Sciences Option with One Year of Chemistry, and the Natural History Option in the Division of Biological Sciences, Environmental Studies, the General Option and the Earth Science Education Options in Geosciences, all majors in the College of Forestry and Conservation, and all options in Health and Human Performance.
    • CHMY 121 with a grade of C- or higher is a pre-requisite for CHMY 123, Intro to Organic and Biochemistry.
    • CHMY 104 Preparation for Chemistry.
    • CHMY 104 is only recommended for students whose majors will require them to complete CHMY 141N and have a Chemistry placement score below 13.
    • CHMY 104 is designed to prepare students for CHMY 141, College Chemistry I. Students who struggle with a significant proportion of the questions on the Chemistry Placement Exam must improve their skills at scientific reasoning, applications of algebra, and the fundamentals of chemistry before they can succeed in College Chemistry. It is designed to provide a sound understanding of these fundamentals so the student can succeed in CHMY 141.
    • CHMY 104 IS NOT recommended for students whose majors require CHMY 121, and it will not meet a Natural Science General Education Requirement.
    • CHMY 141N College Chemistry I.
    • CHMY 141N is only recommended for students whose majors will require them to complete two or more years of chemistry and have a Chemistry placement score of 13 or higher.
    • Majors requiring CHMY 141: Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Health-Sciences (Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Veterinary, etc.), the Cellular and Molecular Biology Option, the Ecology and Organismal Biology Option with Two Years of Chemistry, the Ecology Option for Teacher Preparation in General Science, and the Human Biological Sciences Option with Two Years of Chemistry in the Division of Biological Sciences, Medical Technology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and the Geology and Environmental Geology Options in Geosciences.
    • Students with a math placement score below 3 are advised to delay the start of their chemistry sequence until they have completed the algebra sequence for their major.