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A bit of a complicated question about math placement

lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
Here is the situation. My son is a transfer student coming in from a MD community college. He has about 60 credits now and almost all his gen eds, as well as freshman English, etc.

He is going into a major that requires calculus placement as a co-requisite with his first major class.

He has just completed pre-Calc at the community college and due to several circumstances, he ended up getting a D (some of those circumstances actually were that he was lazy in the middle of the semester and spent way too much time with his (now ex) girlfriend).

I'm trying to wade through the morass of details.

First, it sounds like he must place into Calc via the placement test. He had gotten into UMBC, and did really well on the placement test there, and placed into Calc easily.

I was hoping he'd get at least a C in pre-Calc, assuming if he didn't place into Calc via the test, he'd have satisfied the pre-req, but I'm not sure if he needs a C or if a D would have sufficed.

Now I'm sure the main question you'd be asking is that if he got a D in pre-Calc, is he really ready for Calc (since he'll need a C in that within two attempts). He feels he is. He is not sure whether the D is actually a mistake, as he got a 96 on the mid-term before the final, and he felt very confident about the final, but can't check the grades that went into the final grade, as the system locks him out. My suspicion is it's either a mistake, he did marginally on the final, and he probably simply skipped a lot of homework which brought his grade down.

Bottom line, what are his options if he doesn't place into Calc? I know he can take the test a second time. How quickly can he know his score? At UMBC, it was scored immediately. Will the D in pre-Calc satisfy the pre-req? If he took it at UMD, I think he'd need a C to move on.

He really has very little to take if he doesn't start his major sequence, as he literally only has about three gen eds left, and most of the good ones are already full, so it would be very difficult to even cobble together a full time course load.

Hope that makes sense. Any help would be appreciated.

Replies to: A bit of a complicated question about math placement

  • da6onetda6onet Registered User Posts: 653 Member
    edited May 2014
    It's pretty straightforward. He takes the placement test, then gets placed accordingly. Even with geneds done he might have other degree elective requirements he can knock out. Come up with a couple course plans, one for each case. The results are immediately available and automatically sent to his advisor.
  • lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    So this is why it is a bit confusing. Say someone took pre-calc (college pre-calc, not high school) and got a C or above, but the placement test didn't place them in Calc...they would literally have to take the same class over again at UMD? The pre-req for MATH140 is MATH115. The equivalent of MATH115 is the math he took, and while he got a D, it did/will transfer. It's likely a moot point, because the sample test was absolutely no issue for him (just a couple log questions), but everything else was simple for him.
  • maryversitymaryversity Registered User Posts: 1,973 Senior Member
    Math is pretty fundamental for certain majors/courses.

    "What happens if a student doesn't place into the course that they need for their course of study? A student may retake the placement test to improve a placement. However, a student may take the placement test only once during an academic year semester and is allowed to retake it only once during the summer. Any retake should be preceded by careful review and preparation"

    So, the answer to you question (I think) is yes, if he doesn't place into Calc he will probably be recommended to retake it. A "D" may transfer but it is problematic more for the lack of mastery than for the grade. So, if two tries at the placement exam doesn't get you "in" then it's really for your own benefit that you "retake" the class at Maryland. It actually might translate into an easier A for him, which would actually then apply to his Maryland GPA. However, that's putting the cart before the horse... If he already took the exam, wait to see his score. He will find out the results when he goes to orientation/meets with adviser to pick classes.

    Here is the source page for more details
    http://www.math.umd.edu/undergraduate/credit/placement/
  • lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    Maryversity, agree with your points. I think he personally feels the D grade was not for lack of mastery, but because of some poor choices during the semester, but in my mind, it depends on the comprehensive final grade, which he has to wait to find out. The biggest issue is that it's blocking him from starting his major sequence, and he's already so far in on Gen Eds, it forces more and more time, but he really needs to be in the class he belongs.

    Again, probably moot point because he most likely will score into the course.

    Another related question...

    If he decides to take Calc this summer at his community college:

    A. Will it transfer (as MATH140)
    B. Can he take it just for "practice" and it won't count as an attempt at UMD....so if he gets a poor grade but just uses it as prep for 140 to assure a good grade, is that cool?

    I know once you are enrolled at UMD, you can't take math outside of it. But when is he officially "enrolled"?
  • lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    Also, Mary, do you remember how quickly you can get the score? Reason being, I'd like him to walk into orientation knowing his situation. It would be very different class choices if he places into Calc than not, and I'd hate to have him have to rush through selecting Gen Eds, etc. We can do contingency planning ahead of time, but would be best to know.
  • da6onetda6onet Registered User Posts: 653 Member
    edited May 2014
    If he decides to take Calc this summer at his community college:

    A. Will it transfer (as MATH140)
    B. Can he take it just for "practice" and it won't count as an attempt at UMD....so if he gets a poor grade but just uses it as prep for 140 to assure a good grade, is that cool?

    A) Yes
    B) Since you're already admitted, you technically wouldn't have to submit the "practice" transcript (they're not going to check clearinghouse again), but that would be unethical.
    I know once you are enrolled at UMD, you can't take math outside of it. But when is he officially "enrolled"?

    You're enrollment date is when you're officially allowed to start classes - your admission letter will say something like fall 2014 or 2014-2015 academic school year --> September 2nd (though I know of at least one Fall 2013 admit who managed to exploit a mistake with his registration blocks into taking summer II classes at UMD). I personally took one last summer class at another school before the fall semester started and just sent in updated transcripts to get the credit transferred.

    This may depend on a particular department's policy, but at least for engineering you simply submit a form asking to take a course at another institution (following the laundry list of rules for such an action). It is very common for people to take courses at other institutions over the summer; less common during regular fall/spring semesters (essentially commuting back and forth throughout the week between two schools).

    Say someone took pre-calc (college pre-calc, not high school) and got a C or above, but the placement test didn't place them in Calc...they would literally have to take the same class over again at UMD?

    Very likely yes. The university just doesn't trust other school's to teach some subjects and/or wants more money (just take a look at how the computer science department treats transfer students when it comes to comp sci I and II). I took calc I at another school and they didn't accept that credit because they syllabus no longer exists, but they did accept calc II, III, DiffEq, and Linear Algebra (all A's). So yes, I had to "retake" math140 (I did credit by examination). Common sense and bureaucracy don't play nice with each other when it comes to situations like this I'm afraid.
    ...do you remember how quickly you can get the score?

    I was wrong about getting the results immediately. This is from the math department page ->

    "The exam should be completed at least three days before your scheduled Orientation date. Results will be given to you by your advisor."

    http://www.math.umd.edu/undergraduate/credit/placementsched.html


  • da6onetda6onet Registered User Posts: 653 Member
    Also from freshmen connection page -->
    "The exams are scored and the results post to the student electronic record within 48 business hours."
    http://oes.umd.edu/freshmen-connection/academics/mpe
  • lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    Thanks, much. I saw that link, too. Kid just took the test. Three sections were very easy. Trig mostly easy. Two questions he said weren't covered in any way in his precalc class and nowhere else in all of the stuff he reviewed, but he thinks he might have figured it out. Just no way of knowing, and he didn't write the problems down to review further if he needs to retake. So we'll just have to wait and see now. And absolutely regarding CompSci classes, too. He's done two semesters at community college, but none of it was in Java, so he's starting from scratch. We're assuming he's going for four years more years anyway at this point since it's a seven semester minimum to complete the sequence. Just want to have a little breathing room there.
  • lenmonsterlenmonster Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    Phew. Okay. It's done. The math placement office emailed that they don't give out the scores until orientation. Kid called and talked to the office, and thankfully they were willing to tell him. He placed into 140, so all is fine.
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