Can placement tests work against students?

<p>For regular placement tests, like the ones you take during orientation at a college, can placing out of classes work against students such that they aren't really prepared for the higher-level college courses without taking the lower-level college courses first?
If you want to be specific, I'm thinking about Chemistry and Math.
I know colleges say the tests are designed so this doesn't happen, but I've heard some complaints elsewhere.</p>

<p>Yes. This happened to me in calculus. It kicked my butt as a freshman.</p>

<p>Oh yes. The same is true for AP credits.</p>

<p>It depends on how accurate the placement test in assessing how well you know the prerequisite material (presumably you mean high school chemistry and math through precalculus).</p>

<p>However, some students who know the prerequisite stuff well may still find the next course in college to be difficult. E.g. some people who know precalculus well struggle in calculus; at a more advanced level, some people who know multivariable calculus and linear algebra well struggle in real analysis.</p>

<p>But pay attention to whether you barely pass the placement test, or aced it easily. The same goes for AP scores (e.g. a score of 5 is a much better indicator of readiness to skip the introductory course than a score of 3 is).</p>

<p>Yes. Ds1's 5 in BC Cal as a junior put him in Cal 3 at college. He told them it had been a year since he had any calculus and was worried about the placement, but they assured him it would be fine. It wasn't. He dropped it after much stress.</p>

<p>Sure can....I took a French placement test as a freshman that said I only needed to take ONE semester of college French (school requirement was two YEARS of FL). The class I was supposed to take was a conversational French class that met at dinner time three days a week...in a private dining room...FRENCH only spoken. I had the sense to "opt out" and instead took a full year of college French. I would have failed a conversational French course.</p>

<p>Perhaps a much better way (than AP scores) of determining whether to skip the first semester or few of math courses is to get some old final exams of those courses from the college being attended and try them.</p>

<p>Usually, you're not forced to accept AP credit and place out of a course. Colleges usually offer the option of refusing the AP credit and taking the course.</p>

<p>But they may not offer the option of taking a lower-level course than your score on the college's own placement test would justify.</p>

<p>Given this, some students in some situations might want to consider the option of not doing their best on the placement test.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I'm thinking about Chemistry and Math.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>If you are thinking about taking premed coursework, testing into higher courses can be a problem. Like it or not, an important factor in med school admissions is gpa, and the level of the coursework matters little. </p>

<p>For instance, testing out of general chem and starting will organic chem will mean having to take a year of higher level chem since most med schools require 2 yrs of chem w/lab and don't accept AP credit.</p>

<p>Are all the negative opinions of placement tests like reading reviews for consumer products: Only people with complaints take the time to post reviews even if the majority have praise?
Does anyone have anything positive to say about placement testing?
Thirty years ago, it worked fine without causing students problems. Has something changed?</p>

<p>
[quote]
Thirty years ago, it worked fine without causing students problems.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Not necessarily. I went to college in that era, and I knew students who were placed into courses that were either too easy or too difficult for them on the basis of placement tests. </p>

<p>I had that experience myself in math. I had taken a high school calculus course but did not take the AP test because few people at our high school ever got passing scores on it. When I arrived at college, I took the college's math placement test, and was placed in second-semester calculus. I found the course to be extremely difficult, and although I managed to get a B, the fact that I did not truly understand the material inhibited me from taking further courses that required a solid knowledge of calculus. I would have been better off starting with first-semester calculus or perhaps even a precalculus course and learning the material well.</p>

<p>University specific but a couple schools we have visited have said that they don't allow placement tests (or AP/IB/post-secondary credits) in your major for some majors (mostly sciences and math). Just something to look into.</p>

<p>Obviously, given the previous posts, placement tests can work against students, but as per beolein's request, I had a very positive experience - </p>

<p>I tested out of a number of subjects as a freshman engineering major (calculus, programming, first year Chinese, etc.) I took higher level classes along with my required intro classes, and had no problems at all with those classes. </p>

<p>The best part was that my first year, I had a nice of mix of some of the harder pre-reqs that I had placed into along with some of the easier required intro classes. Now, as a sophomore, I'm taking harder core courses for my major, but I also have room for some less stressful electives. Meanwhile, those students who did not place out of any classes are stuck with both the difficult core engineering courses and the really difficult core math/science/programming classes, which is just an unbearable course load.</p>

<p>I am so happy that I was able to use my AP credits to alleviate some of the workload - it has allowed me to get ahead, have a slightly less stressful schedule, and even graduate with a master's in 4 years, if I chose to do so (probably not, but nonetheless ;)) When I see questions about students with strong backgrounds/5 on APs/etc. talking about repeating classes, I often fail to understand, because I think it can make sophomore/junior years really hard by having to take both hard courses for one's major and hard pre-reqs/gen eds.</p>

<p>Just my $0.02. Obviously, placing out isn't always the best, but it certainly was for me.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Are all the negative opinions of placement tests like reading reviews for consumer products: Only people with complaints take the time to post reviews even if the majority have praise?
Does anyone have anything positive to say about placement testing?
Thirty years ago, it worked fine without causing students problems. Has something changed?

[/quote]

I'm not saying that placement tests are a bad thing. I'm saying that testing out of a course is not the same thing as taking that course, and students need to be prepared for the consequences.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>In many of the cases described above, it looks like the placement tests are not "accurate" if they place the students in too easy or too difficult a course.</p>

<p>Seems like a simple solution would be to use a previous final exam of the course that may be skipped, then grade it and inform the student what grade s/he would have gotten in that course based on the previous final exam score.</p>

<p>The specific initial question was "Can placement tests work against students?" That's why your getting answers that focus on the down side.</p>

<p>Placemet tests worked very well for my D.
"If you want to be specific, I'm thinking about Chemistry and Math."
-Specifically, D. was placed into correct Chem. class based on her math test. It worked better than expected, she got hand picked by prof to be SI, the best job on campus that lasted for 3 years with added benefit of not needed review for Chem. section of MCAT
-It worked even better for Spanish. D. has scored higher than the highest score shown in placement test information. That resulted in her placing into 3rd year college Spanish (I am not sure if she had AP Spanish in HS). She took only one semester of Spanish, commented that it was one of the best college classes and was able to speak freely on our trip to Mexico 2 years later when she claimed that she did not rmember Spanish as well as right after class.
Based on this 2 esperiences, I would say that placement tests are usefull and pretty accurate. But, I must add that while D. has classes that are very challenging for her, math and languages are her easiest classes and so is Chem. So, it might not be true for somebody else, who struggle in these classes.</p>

<p>We got great advice from a friend a few years ago. If the AP or placement score allows you to skip only one semester of a sequential math or science two semester course, then opt to take both semesters anyway. </p>

<p>Our friend's son had been able to skip the first semester of calc (I think due to a 4 or 5 on Calc AB AP, not a placement test) as a freshman, but struggled mightily when he then started in the second semester of calc. in college. Second semester calc started way, way beyond the end of high school Calc AB AP. He had a miserable semester playing catch up.</p>

<p>Ohhhh!! Congratulations to me! I just reached comment #300, and am now a MEMBER of CC!</p>

<p>Placement tests worked fine for my older son. He took AP Physics C and took AP Calc BC and a linear equations course in high school. CMU insists on their own math placement in addition to the BC score. Since he mostly took discrete math as a comp sci major the courses he took didn't build directly on calculus anyway, though I believe he used it in a physics class. (And at least one physics class taught some math better than a math class he was taking concurrently.)</p>