Math Placement and the MPE

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln requires 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. The Math Placement Exam is available online for both new and current students. New 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.

Taking and Scoring 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. Be sure to answer or review all ten questions of Part AA before clicking "Grade this Part". Clicking "Grade this Part" instead of "Next Question" after completing the first question of Part AA will result in an improper math placement. 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 instead of your browser buttons.

After answering or reviewing all ten questions of Part AA, the system will present you with either Part BA or Part PC depending on your results in Part AA. 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...". You are NOT required to complete Part BA unless the system asks you to do so. 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.

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 Pre-calculus

All students are allowed a maximum of 3 Math Placement Exam attempts across their time at UNL. You may only make one attempt each day (24 hours). You should do significant review and practice before your subsequent attempts if you feel that your initial attempt was inaccurate.

Completing the MPE

We want you to be placed into the right course, so you can succeed. Do not get help from another person or use any outside aids, besides a writing instrument, scratch paper, and a calculator or graphing calculator. You will have 20 minutes to complete each part of the exam. If you end up in an inappropriate course, it will delay your progress and waste your tuition money. Please take this exam honestly and as directed.

Before you take the math placement exam, remember that you should have some scratch paper handy and that you can use a calculator or graphing calculator, if you want to. You should not use any calculator that can do symbolic algebra.

Math Placement Exam

Your math placement will be determined after you take the test. 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.

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.