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Santa Monica College|Enrollment Development|Assessment|Math Challenge Exam

Math Challenge Exam

Notes for Students Retesting Math and/or Challenge Test

If you take the Math Assessment Test and believe that your score does not accurately reflect your skill level, you may retake the Assessment Test after a two-week period. Note that once you have enrolled/started the course sequence in a math course, you may not retake the Assessment Test.

Information on preparing for the Assessment Test

  • Assessment website ( Please review before retaking the Assessment Test.
    • Relevant information is located under the Tests and Services heading.
  • Mathematics Department website ( Information can be found under the Math Placement heading.
    • Additional course-specific study guides and online resources can be found under the Current Students heading.

Other sources for preparation material

  • SMC Library: Older math texts are available on the shelves and current texts are in the Reserve section behing the circulation desk.
  • Math Lab: Editions of older textbooks are available for reference.

Challenging the results of the computerized Math Assessment Test

If, after taking the Math Assessment a second time, you still have not achieved eligibility for the class you desire, you may request to challenge your result by taking a challenge exam. If taking a challenge exam, please note:

  • A challenge exam may be taken only once.
  • Challenge exams are completed without use of a calculator.
  • Challenge exams (except for the Geometry Challenge exam) are paper-and-pencil multiple choice timed tests, generally lasting 40 minutes.
  • Geometry Challnege exam is administered throught the Assessment Center.
  • You must received approval by the Math Department Head prior to taking the Geometry Math Challenge.
  • You must earn a score of at least 70% on the challenge exam(s) to quilify for the desired class.

The challenge procedure cannot be used to make up results of D, F, W, No Pass or an Incomplete in a course.

Choosing a challenge exam

The chart below identifies which challenge exam you might take depending upon your Math Assessment score and the class desired. Preparing for a challenge exam should be a review of material you have already studied but possibly forgotten.

You should also be aware of the sequence of prerequisites for math courses. The most common misconception is that eligibility for Math 21, 26, 41, and 54 satisfies the Math 20 prerequisite for Math 2. In fact this is not the case, because eligibility for these courses reflects relatively basic algebra skills while Math 2 requires strong algebra skills demonstrated by scoring at least 70 on the College Algebra (Test Type 6) of the COMPASS assessment.

Typical Scenarios and Guidelines
Score made you eligible for You want Challenge exam(s) needed
Math 31, 49 Math 20 You will take a test on Math 31 topics (elementary algebra).
Math 18, 20, 32 Math 21, 26, 41, 54 You will take a test on Math 20 topics (intermediate algebra).
Math 18, 20, 32 Math 2 You will take tests on both Math 20 & 32 topics (intermediate algebra & geometry).
Math 21,26,41,54 Math 2 You will take tests on both Math 20 & 32 topics (intermediate algebra & geometry).
Math 28 Math 2 You will take a test on Math 32 topics because algebra skills seem reasonably strong but we have no information on geometry skills.
Math 28 Math 7 You will take a test on Math 2 topics including trigonometry and college algebra.
Math 2 Math 7 You will take a test on Math 2 topics including trigonometry and college algebra.
Math 2 Math 28 No challenge test is needed; you may be waived into Math 28 by a counselor.

Other challenge exam situations

You may have successfully completed Math 20 (Intermediate Algebra) and wish to take Math 2 (Precalculus). In this case, you also need to demonstrate proficiency in geometry (Math 32 at SMC). You may do this by taking the geometry challenge exam. Specific information about the geometry challenge exam is available on the Mathematics Department website under Math Placement.

How to schedule a challenge exam

Challenge Test Request forms are available outside the Mathematics Department office, MC 26. Submit the completed form to the Math Department Chair, also in MC 26. The student must initially demonstrate how she/he has the knowledge or ability to succeed in the desired course. The department may then determine if the prerequisite challenge request is granted. If your request for the challenge exam is approved by the department chair, you will be scheduled for the appropriate challenge exam(s).