Mathematics Placement Exam

Welcome to Principia College! We are delighted that you will be joining us soon, and we look forward to getting to know you.

Like many other colleges and universities, Principia recognizes that students who do not major in the sciences or mathematics still need an understanding of basic quantitative applications to prepare them for life in the global society and economy of the twenty-first century. The Mathematics Department currently offers courses that help students meet this need.

Mathematics Placement Exam
Shortly after you arrive at Principia, you’ll be required to take a quantitative reasoning exam that will help us determine the best way for you to meet the quantitative requirement during your first year. You’ll have up to two hours to complete the exam; the results will be sent to you and your advisor, who will direct you to one of three paths:

  • Enrollment in an approved quantitative reasoning course
  • Enrollment in a basic mathematics refresher followed by one of the approved quantitative reasoning courses the next semester
  • The opportunity, though not the obligation, to enroll in any of Principia’s mathematics courses for which you have the prerequisites

Quantitative Reasoning Course
The quantitative reasoning courses emphasize applications of basic mathematics in a variety of situations and may include topics such as financial growth models, loans and payment plans, statistical models and techniques, voting systems, coding methods, number systems, mathematics and music, geometry and art, or patterns and tilings, to name just a few. Each student who satisfactorily completes one of these courses receives three semester-hours of college credit and fulfills a general education requirement.

Preparation for the Exam
To help you prepare for the quantitative reasoning exam, we’ve created a math brochure. It contains a list of topics for you to review, as well as fifteen example problems. We recommend working through the problems without a calculator, using paper and pencil. The test is separated into two sections. The first and longer section needs to be completed without a calculator, while the second somewhat shorter one requires a calculator. You’ll need to bring your own hand-held calculator with working batteries for this second part. Cell phone calculators or other electronic devices are not allowed. A downloadable copy of the study brochure is available at the bottom of this page.

New Principia College students who have demonstrated a knowledge of mathematics at the calculus level by obtaining a 3, 4, or 5 on either the AB or BC version of the AP calculus test, by obtaining a 5, 6, or 7 on the Standard or Higher Level IB mathematics test, or by passing a college-level calculus course at an accredited college or university, are not required to take the quantitative reasoning exam. To qualify for exemption from the exam, be sure that the Principia College Registrar has your official test results or your college or university transcript.

Contact Us
If you have questions, call or email any of us in the math department. We’d be happy to hear from you and are eager to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you soon.


Cathy Hooper
Mathematics Department
Director, Math Learning Center