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Placement Exams

tirotiro Posts: 48Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2005 in Harvard University
Hey,

Does anyone know what they test in the English and math placement exams for freshmen?

For the English exam, how is it structured? Does it have a grammar section? Or is it an essay test? I think there was a thread on this earlier, but I can't find it.

Also, for the math exam, how much math does it go through? Multi-variable calc? Linear algebra?

Thanks!
Post edited by tiro on

Replies to: Placement Exams

  • EASEAS Posts: 279Registered User Junior Member
    From what I remember from taking the tests several years ago: for English, they give you a prompt, and you write an essay. You are either going to be placed in Expos 10 or Expos 20. The majority take Expos 20. Don't worry about the test; its not hard. No grammar, MC,e tc.

    Math- haha no. It only goes through trig. Or maybe there are a few calc questions, but I doubt it. And no calculator is allowed. If you don't know how to do it or finish early, you can just leave. I left after about 10 min because I knew I wasn't going to take any math courses and didn't care about my placement level into a math course.
  • mercedesbenzmercedesbenz Posts: 26Registered User New Member
    The math only goes through trig?? How do they determine placement in the Math 20+ courses?
    Thanks for the info, btw :)
  • EASEAS Posts: 279Registered User Junior Member
    As far as I know, all freshmen either take Xa/Xb sequence, 1a/1b sequence, or 21a or 21a applied. I guess you could take a harder class but you are advised against it. Freshmen week after placement exams, there is a meeting that helps advice what to take. There will be a big sign in the Science Center that says "What should I take" advertising the info session. If you've taken AP Calc you will be placed into 21 generally. Then after you take it, you can go on to the 20+ courses. I'll check with some premed friends to make sure this is right, but its my understanding from hearing them talk about courses.
  • tokenadulttokenadult Posts: 17,473Super Moderator Senior Member
    As far as I know, all freshmen either take Xa/Xb sequence, 1a/1b sequence, or 21a or 21a applied. I guess you could take a harder class but you are advised against it.

    Math concentrators get advice specific to their needs from publications of the Harvard Math Department such as

    http://math.harvard.edu/undergrad/Pamphlets/freshmenguide.html

    http://math.harvard.edu/undergrad/Pamphlets/which_course.html

    and so forth.

    The "shopping period" is used so that would-be math concentrators can try out various courses and see which fits.
  • mercedesbenzmercedesbenz Posts: 26Registered User New Member
    I am planning on taking the 21 sequence (or maybe 20 for social sciences concentrators). So if I have a 5 in AP Calc BC, would I probably be placed into that class automatically...or do still need to do pretty well on the placement exam? I'm just wondering if I need to do some substantial brushing up on my calc before the placement exams. Thanks!
  • harvard_and_berkeleyharvard_and_berkeley Posts: 559Registered User Member
    EAS,

    You are incorrect on the math placement exam...
    It covers math through first-year calculus.
    Depending on how you do, they will place you into
    Math Xa, Math 1a, Math 1b, Math 21a.

    Students who are especially strong in math can get permission
    to take math 25a or math 55a...

    Even if you have AP scores, they still require you to take the math placement exam... if there is a conflict (say you do well on the AP but horribly on the placement test, or vice versa), then you will need to talk with one of the math advisors to discuss your situation individually... I remember that they were incredibly understanding and willing to take the time to place you in the best math class.
  • mercedesbenzmercedesbenz Posts: 26Registered User New Member
    Thanks for the into. Is the test multiple choice or free response?
  • EASEAS Posts: 279Registered User Junior Member
    h and b- you are incorrect in stating i'm incorrect...since i said it may have some calc. that's not the focus of the test though. lol
  • harvard_and_berkeleyharvard_and_berkeley Posts: 559Registered User Member
    EAS said:
    "It only goes through trig. Or maybe there are a few calc questions, but I doubt it."

    I'll let others decide on how to interpret your words.
  • EASEAS Posts: 279Registered User Junior Member
    H n B: wow you've got me now....
  • PhoenixyPhoenixy Posts: 382Registered User Member
    From what I recall, the math on the placement test goes up through the content of AP Calc BC. The freshman "mainstream" math courses are Xa and Xb (precalc), 1a and 1b (generally you'll get placed into 1a if you have precalc, 1b if you have Calc AB), 21, 23, and 25 a-b, and math 55, all of which cover linear algebra and multivar. This site has a good overview of the differences:
    http://www.math.harvard.edu/undergrad/Pamphlets/freshmenguide.html
  • PhoenixyPhoenixy Posts: 382Registered User Member
    It won't let me edit my post, but I was going to say that there's no real point in brushing up for the placement test, really, although you might want to brush up for the calc class itself. The test won't tell you anything you don't already know, and most of the people taking it haven't studied for it, so it's not really calibrated to be studied for. If you aren't going to place into 21a or higher, there will just come a point on the test at which you don't know how to answer the questions anymore, otherwise you should be fine.
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