Many incoming GS students will be required to take the placement exams in Quantitative Reasoning, Mathematics, and Chemistry. Please consult with your academic advisor to confirm if you are required to take any of these exams.
Placement exams in Quantitative Reasoning and Chemistry are instrumental in establishing a student’s level of proficiency in these subjects. The results of these exams determine a student’s accurate placement in mathematics and chemistry courses. Placement exams in Quantitative Reasoning and Chemistry are offered throughout the summer and during Orientation Week in the fall and spring semesters.
Please note that each placement exam may only be taken once.
Testing Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
In some cases, students with disabilities are entitled to accommodations related to administration of examinations, including placement exams. Such accommodations must be specified as well as authorized by the Columbia University Office of Disability Services, based on an assessment of the disability and appropriate documentation. This authorization process can often take a month, once all required documentation is received.
Students with learning disabilities or other disabilities that may warrant an accommodation should contact the Office of Disability Services immediately upon receipt of the GS Acceptance Packet.
Exams Administered by the Office of Disability Services
Students who take a Placement Exam through the Office of Disability Services will receive their scores within 24-48 hours via email.
The Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Exam is an hour-long mathematics test. All incoming GS undergraduate students who have not fulfilled the quantitative reasoning requirement through ACT or SAT testing must take the QR exam by the end of Orientation week. After attending an Academic Planning Session, you will know if you are required to take the exam. If you are still uncertain about needing to take the QR test, please consult with your academic advisor. Taking the exam before meeting with your advisors is highly recommended, but not required.
Preparing for the Quantitative Reasoning Test
The Quantitative Reasoning Test is a one-hour placement exam required of all students entering GS who have not met the quantitative reasoning requirement through ACT or SAT testing. Students are required to take this test by the end of Orientation Week.
There are 23 questions—16 multiple choice and 17 free-response questions. You must obtain a score of 20 to fulfill the GS quantitative reasoning requirement. Only then may students take college-level coursework that requires quantitative skills. Calculators are permitted during the exam. The exam will test your skills in the following areas:
- Quadratic Algebra
- Linear Equations/Algebra
- Interpreting Graphs
- Percentages and Ratios
- Exponential Functions
Mathematics Placement Exam
Placement tests in mathematics and chemistry may be required for some students. Placement tests help determine what level of mathematics or chemistry you are prepared to take. Please meet with your academic advisor to determine if you need to take these exams for your course of study.
The Mathematics Placement Exam consists of two parts. It is suggested that you review the material described below before taking the placement test, as tests may not be retaken. Material for both Parts I and II should be covered in any standard algebra textbook.
Passing Math Part I will place you into Pre-Calculus. You may take Part II only if you pass Part I. You have 45 minutes to complete 20 problems, and the use of calculators is not permitted. You must receive a minimum score of 16/20 in order to pass. The following areas will be tested:
- Order of Operations
- Manipulating Fractions
- Distributive Law
- Square Root
- Linear Equations in One Variable
- Factoring and Multiplying Algebraic Expressions
- Coordinates and Graphs (two variables)
- Absolute Value
- Algebraic Fractions
- Properties of Straight Lines
- Quadratic Equations
Passing Math Part II will place you into Calculus I. We do not offer placement exams to determine placement in courses higher than Calculus I. Please consult with your academic advisor for additional information on this matter. You have 40 minutes to complete 12 problems, and the use of calculators is not permitted. You must receive a minimum score of 9/12 in order to pass. The following areas will be tested:
- Trigonometric Identity
- Graphing Functions
The hour-long chemistry exam consists of 44 questions. A score of 23-44 qualifies you for General Chemistry I. Please consult with your advisor if you receive a mark in the 20s, as it indicates that you may experience difficulty in the course. The use of calculators is not permitted. You may prepare for the exam by reviewing any high school chemistry textbook