placement tests for math and sciences

Hey Guys,

So I am starting a new bachelors degree, completely from the ground 0 as my first degree was in theater from a foreign university. The school that I am going to requires a math, biology and chemistry placement test.

I am on track preparing for the math placement and reviewing all my high school stuff, and think I can place into Calculus or Pre Calc. As for the Science stuff I am looking over my books I took AP BIo and Honors Chem but I have forgotten everything! Would it look horrible and waste much time if I ended up taking the super basic introduction courses in chem and bio? I am sure I could catch up if I some how placed into higher ones. Would you guys suggest that I commit a huge amount of time trying to relearn all the science for the placement exam? Any recommendation of books? Cliff notes?

Thanks for any advise!

Important things:

  1. Learn the subjects

  2. Get excellent grades

  3. Develop a good relationship with your teachers

    Note what doesn’t make the list:

    x. Do well on placement exams.

    Who cares how well you do on placement exams? If your calculus is rusty, better to retake calculus than try to ace the placement exam and end up over your head. If you’re still weak in algebra, or fractions, or arithmetic, wouldn’t you rather find out BEFORE you get graded, when you can still take lower-level (or even remedial) classes to make up for that? I certainly would.

    My suggestion: Never study for a placement exam, unless you are already very sure that you’re beyond the class and retaking it would be a waste of your valuable time. In that case, take 15 minutes to do a high-level review of the concepts. If that isn’t enough, you probably don’t know the area well and ought to retake the class.

A placement test for science seems very unusual to me. Most schools I have looked at just have you decide between a single semester chem class for non-science majors or a two semester class for science majors. Are you saying this school you are planning to go to actually has 090 level classes (ie-remedial or non-degree credit) in the sciences? Not even the community colleges I’ve seen offer such a thing.

Thanks for the response Spox, I certainly don’t want to feel like I am placed in a class over my head and not do well in it. I would just like to be in the position where I am on track to be taking the prereqs on time.

I am going to be attending a private LAC and they have a math, chemistry and bio placement test. The chemistry placement test is to determine if I can take Gen Chem and if I don’t do well I will have to take Introduction to college chemistry and not take the general course until next year. The Bio is to determine if I can take Gen Bio along side Gen Chem in the first year. The only beginning math options at my school are “math skills” (remedial), pre-calc and calc. I would ideally like to at least start with Pre-calc and Gen Chem. We shall see!

For the math, here’s the page from the community college I’m currently attending. They have some good links to refresher web pages-great for remembering things like dividing fractions and the Quadratic formula that most of us haven’t had to worry about in far too long.

Hi, you have not said how much time you have to prepare for medical school applications (inverse to age, probably). Nor whether you have other responsibilities, family, day job, etc, competing for your limited hours each day. Any of those will make it difficult to enter higher level courses too soon before reviewing in class the basic math and sciences.

In my experience, two of your goals would be:

(1) To learn everything well as a solid foundation for later coursework; that means starting with the basics. What if you enroll in the advanced classes after so many years since high school and then cannot catch up and wind up with bad grades and lack of foundational knowledge?

That brings the second main goal that you need to produce:

(2) A high college GPA and even higher GPA in the sciences. For that, this writer would recommend you indulge in the intro or basic science courses, take the time to get it all right.

I made mistakes in college without any academic advisor’s help, by trying to cram in some of the core science courses (Physics I and II) into 6 week back to back summer courses, thus only 1/3 of the time needed for each subject) while holding a full time job at night – and was it ever a huge, irreversible error! Don’t do what I did! Good luck!

~ The Future Dr. Quinn