The Catholic University of America

Quick Links for CUA's Calculus Placement Test

You can take CUA's free, online calculus placement test on the Blackboard website, which some CUA teachers also use in order to post course materials. You'll need three different access codes which appear below in this font in the section called "How do I take the calculus placement test?". 

For more details about calculus at CUA and the placement test, please see the next section of this page.

Details about Calculus and Calculus Placement at CUA

This page addresses the following issues about calculus and calculus placement at CUA:

For more detailed information, please visit the CUA Math Department's calculus placement page.

Do I need to take calculus during my time in college?

Calculus is a branch of mathematics that studies accumulation and rates of change. In addition to its intrinsic beauty and its intellectual challenge, calculus has importance within a number of fields, such as those involving the natural sciences, technology, or economics. Although many CUA students won't need to take calculus in order to graduate, some students will need it for their majors, and others may be interested in taking calculus either for its own sake or in order to explore possible majors that require it.

Majors that Require Calculus

Every major in the following schools at CUA requires calculus:

School of Architecture and Planning 
School of Engineering

Furthermore, in the School of Arts and Sciences, all majors in the following departments require calculus:

Biology
Chemistry
Mathematics
Physics

In addition, in the School of Business and Economics, all majors require their students to take the calculus placement exam.

Do I need to take the calculus placement test?

If you will start CUA in one of the majors that require calculus or the calculus placement exam, or if you are seriously considering moving into one of these majors, or if you simply would like to take a course in calculus or pre-calculus, then you should take the calculus placement test, unless you can use scores from an AP Calculus Exam to determine your placement. Either one or the other is necessary in order to register for any calculus or pre-calculus course. (By the way, if you have taken an AP Calculus Exam, be sure that you have placed a request with the College Board to send the scores to CUA. CUA's college code is 5104.) For those who do take the calculus placement test, this test helps place them into a calculus course if they are ready for calculus, or into a pre-calculus course if they are not yet ready for calculus.

How do I prepare for the calculus placement test?

We call the test a "calculus placement test" because it helps determine whether students are ready to take calculus, even though the test itself involves knowledge only up through the precalculus level. In order to prepare for the test, refresh your memory about the following topics from high school math:

  • algebra: expanding and collecting terms, simplifying expressions, solving for a variable, and solving simultaneous linear equations, as well as recognizing algebraic relationships expressed in ordinary words and translating those relationships into mathematical symbols
  • elementary plane geometry
  • analytic geometry including equations that describe lines, conic sections, circles, and spheres
  • functions and graphs of functions, including trigonometric, exponential, and logarithmic functions

CUA's Math Department has assembled some helpful web resources for preparation at this page

How do I take the calculus placement test?

You can take the calculus placement test on the Blackboard website, which some CUA teachers also use in order to post course materials. Pay special attention to the three different access codes you'll need, which appear below in this font.

  1. Log into Blackboard (https://blackboard.cua.edu/) by using your CUA network password. Make sure that no part of your first, middle or last name is included as any part of your CUA network password. If you have trouble logging into Blackboard, visit CUA's Blackboard tutorials for students or the website for CUA's Technology Services office.
  2. You'll treat the calculus placement test as if it were a course, since Blackboard is a program for posting course materials. After you log in, click on the "Courses" tab towards the top-left of the page and then use the "Course Search" box to search for "Calculus Placement." It will list "Vijay Sookdeo" as one of the instructors.
  3. Once the course name "Calculus_Placement_Test_1" appears, move your pointer just to the right of the name and click the downward arrow that appears. Click "Enroll" and then enter the following access code: hot-january. After that, click "Submit." Then, click on the "Courses" tab again towards the top-left of the page.
  4. Enter some necessary personal information by clicking your name in the upper right corner, then the "Settings" menu that appears, then "Personal Information," and then "Edit Personal Information."  Make sure to put in your full official name that you gave CUA, your preferred e-mail address, and your seven-digit CUA student ID number. Then click "Submit."
  5. Click again on the "Courses" tab and choose "Calculus_Placement_Test_1" from your list of courses. You'll find information about the test which is available for your reference. The test has two parts. You can find them by clicking on "TESTS" on the left side of the screen. Each of the two parts requires a different access code. The access code for Part 1 is valiant-dust, and the access code for Part 2 is slightest-errand.
  6. Test format: Each part of the test is timed, with a maximum allowed time of  90 minutes for each part. You can take a break between the two parts, but be careful not to leave the page in the middle of a part because this will cause your test to give an incomplete result. You may use a calculator for the test, but may not use any other aids, coaching, or advice. 

How do I interpret the results of the calculus placement test?

After finishing the test, make a note of your score for Parts 1 and your score for Part 2. Each score is out of 15 points. To find those scores, click "Tools" on the left-hand menu (within the calculus placement section), then select "My Grades," and look toward the bottom of the list. To find out what calculus or pre-calculus course you can register for, put the two scores into the boxes in this page.

Online Precalculus Review Courses

If your major requires precalculus or calculus courses and you place into a precalculus course, please consider registering for one of our online summer precalculus review courses. Successfully finishing one of these self-paced courses can prevent students from getting behind in their major by allowing them to start in calculus, even if they did not initially place into calculus. In addition, taking one of these courses can even benefit students who initially place into calculus by giving them a solid review of skills needed to boost success in their calculus classes. To find out more about CUA's online summer precalculus review courses, visit this link.