Math Placement Exam (MPE)

Math Placement and the MPE

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln requires almost all new, incoming students regardless of previous college level Math coursework to complete the Math Placement Exam prior to scheduling their New Student Enrollment advising meeting. Even though not all new, incoming students are required to take the Math Placement Exam, the Department of Mathematics still strongly recommends it. The Math Placement Exam is available online for both new and current students. Students MUST take the Math Placement Exam, even if they think they will be registering only for advanced math courses*, to prove that they are prepared to succeed in those courses.

In order to register for ANY math course, students must satisfy the prerequisite for that math course. Students who register for a course for which they do not satisfy the prerequisite under this policy will be dropped from the course. The prerequisite is satisfied by achieving a qualifying score on the Math Placement Exam OR by passing the prerequisite course(s) in college with a grade of ‘C’ or ‘P’ (pass) or better. If the prerequisite course was taken more than once, the most recent grade is the applicable one. Several other departments at UNL use the results of the Math Placement Exam as part of their course prerequisites as well.

Transfer students MUST take the Math Placement Exam like all students new to UNL. Transfer students will work with their New Student Enrollment advisor to determine their proper math placement based on the Math Placement Exam and any college level math coursework they have completed. The evaluation of transfer credit in Mathematics is completed independently of the Math Placement Exam, so your Math Placement Exam results will not impact how your Math course credit transfers to UNL.

*The Math Placement Exam covers Algebra and Precalculus/Trigonometry material only. So, the qualifying score for MATH 107: Calculus II or higher is the same as for MATH 106: Calculus I in addition to completion of Calculus I or higher coursework.

Preparing for the MPE

There is a practice exam available below. You should try the practice exam before you take the MPE and you should review any topics that went poorly on the practice exam.  This is particularly important if you are not taking a math course currently.

Scoring the MPE

On the Math Placement Exam, only wrong answers are penalized. If you are not fairly certain how to do a problem, leave it blank. Do Not Guess! Each part of the Math Placement Exam is scored as follows: 1 point for each blank answer, 3 points for each correct answer, and 0 points for each wrong answer. Since each part of the Math Placement Exam has 10 questions, each part will be scored out of 30.

If your score is 19 or less in any part, you might want to review using our Online, Open Source Math Textbooks or a Schaum's Outline Series Study Guide, which can be purchased online or at most large bookstores. There are also other online resources that can help you review for the Math Placement Exam, but we don't currently recommend a specific online resource.

  1. Review for Part 1 (BA): Schaum's Outline Elementary Algebra
  2. Review for Part 2 (AA): Math's Online Intermediate Algebra or Schaum's Outline Intermediate Algebra
  3. Review for Part 3 (PC): Math's Online College Algebra or Schaum's Outline Precalculus (skip trigonometry)
  4. Review for Part 4 (TR): Math's Online College Trigonometry or Schaum's Outline Precalculus

Completing the MPE

The Math Placement Exam has four parts: Beginning Algebra (BA), Advanced Algebra (AA), Precalculus Algebra (PC), and Trigonometry (TR). When you take the Math Placement Exam, the software will start you in Part AA. You will have 20 minutes to complete each part of the exam. Here is a list of instructions for completing the MPE:

  1. Have blank scratch paper and extra writing utensils available (no notes or books).
  2. You cannot get help from anyone else so plan to take the exam by yourself.
  3. Calculators, including graphing calculators (for example the TI-85 or TI-86), are allowed. Calculators with symbolic mathematical manipulation ability, for example the TI-89, are not allowed.
  4. Schedule a time where you can be uninterrupted for at least an hour.
  5. Shut down and restart computer (this test works best with a cleared cache or rebooted system).
  6. Login to the Math Placement Exam system with your NUID number and password (the same login as your MyRed account) by clicking the button below.
  7. Part AA of the Math Placement Exam and your allotted time will start when you click "Proceed to the next part, Part AA (Algebra)."
  8. Do not use the back and forward buttons of your web browser while taking the Math Placement Exam as this will cause errors and possible system crashes. Please use the "Previous Question" and "Next Question" buttons within the Math Placement Exam system in the upper left-hand corner instead of your browser buttons.
  9. Be sure to answer or review all ten questions of each part before clicking "Grade this part" within the Math Placement Exam system in the upper right-hand corner. Clicking "Grade this part" instead of "Next Question" after completing the first question of Part AA or any part will result in an improper math placement.
  10. After answering or reviewing all ten questions of Part AA and clicking "Grade this part," the system will present you with either Part BA or Part PC depending on your results in Part AA. You are NOT required to complete Part BA unless the system asks you to do so. The next part and your allotted time will begin when you click the "Proceed" link again.
  11. The Math Placement Exam system will expect you to continue with the exam until you have completed all of the requested parts and clicked "Grade the exam and get my results now..." link. Your results may not be recorded properly if you do not click "Grade the exam and get my results now..." after finishing all of the requested parts.
  12. Your math placement will be determined after you take the test, and placements are based on your scores across all parts of the exam (i.e., there is not one score on one part of the exam to achieve a specific placement). The Math Placement Exam results are uploaded to MyRED every weekday morning after which MyRED will allow you to register for the math courses for which you have qualified.

All students are allowed a maximum of three Math Placement Exam attempts across their time at UNL. You may only make one attempt each day (24 hours). Students who have started Math coursework at UNL should not repeat the Math Placement Exam unless directed to do so by the Math Department or their academic advisor.

You should do significant review and practice before your subsequent attempts if you feel that your initial attempt was inaccurate. You will be required to complete all of the parts of the Math Placement Exam again on any subsequent attempts. Please take this exam honestly and as directed. If you end up in an inappropriate course, it will delay your progress and waste your tuition money. We want you to be placed into the right course, so you can succeed.

Call New Student Enrollment at 402-472-4646 or the Math Department at 402-472-3731 for any questions.

Take the Math Placement Exam

The Services for Students with Disabilities office will assist a student with the Math Placement Exam. All students who wish to have an accommodation when taking the Math Placement Exam must contact and register with the Services for Students with Disabilities office (117 Louise Pound Hall, 402-472-3787, After registering with the Services for Students with Disabilities office, students will be allowed to take the Math Placement Exam using the online system common to all students with any accommodations allowed. Students with accommodations will still be limited to 3 exam attempts across their time at UNL and limited to 1 attempt each day (24 hours) as would any student attending the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Trouble Enrolling?

If you are still having trouble enrolling in a Math course after completing the Math Placement Exam, please see our Course Override Request Policy and Procedure page.


If you have any other questions, contact Doug Pellatz.