Office of Academic Assessment

Placement Exams

USM Placement Exams

The University of Southern Maine Placement Exam Program helps you and your academic advisor plan your academic program. The Placement Exam does not affect your admission to the University. It assesses your current skill level in Math and the results will be used in helping you and your advisor determine the appropriate courses for you to take.

You should attempt to do your best on the placement examinations because the results are used to determine whether you need to take review courses or whether you may begin by taking regular college-level courses.  Consequently, we encourage you to become familiar with this information, and to review your mathematics skills before taking the examinations.


Frequently Asked Questions about the USM Placement Exam:

What format is the Placement Exam at USM?

USM administers the Math Placement Exam on Accuplacer. USM requires Accuplacer Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra scores in order to place students in a math course. Both sections are completed at one test session. There is no English Placement Exam.

The exam may include items which assess skills you do not possess.  For instance, if you have not previously completed an intermediate algebra course, you may not be familiar with all the items on the exam. See below for a sample test. Your placement exam results will determine the first math course you are required to enroll in as you begin your academic program at the University of Southern Maine.


Who is required to take the Exam?

Students who meet the following conditions, are required to take the Math Placement Exam:

  • SAT Math scores below 550
  • ACT Math Score below 22
  • Transfer students who have NOT met the course equivalence to the mathematics proficiency (readiness) requirement

There is no English Placement Exam at USM effective Feb 1, 2008. No Accuplacer Writing Scores are required for placement.

Student can enroll in ENG 100, based upon one of the following criteria:

  • SAT Writing Scores of 500 or above
  • ACT English/Writing score of 22 or above

Students who meet the following criteria are required to take the ENG 104 course.

  • No SAT Writing Score
  • SAT Writing Scores below 500
  • ACT English Scores below 22


When do I take the Placement Exam?

The placement exam must be taken before registering for courses. The math exam is given during the summer and at various times preceding the beginning of each semester.

Test Dates, Times, and Locations


I already took Accuplacer Exams at another institution. Can I transfer the scores to USM?

ACCUPLACER Math Tests Taken in Locations Outside of USM:

  • ACCUPLACER Math scores from high school-level students will be accepted, if not over three years old.
  • ACCUPLACER Math scores from other test locations will be accepted, if not over three years old.

Scores will be re-interpreted to fit USM's Required Math Placement Policy, and an updated USM-Accuplacer Score Report will be given to you. You MUST have both an Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra score to be interpreted. If you do not have both scores, you must take the USM Math Placement Exam.

Please be sure to have your ACCUPLACER Test Scores mailed or Fax  to:

USM Academic Assessment
David Vardeman, Testing Associate
240 Luther Bonney Hall
P.O. Box 9300  
Portland, ME 04104



Who do I contact about accomodations for disabilities?

Students who may need adaptations or accomodations because of a disability are encouraged to contact the Office of Support for Students with Disabilities (OSSD), Room 242 Luther Bonney Hall on the Portland Campus.  You will need to contact this office before registering for an exam.  Please call (207) 780-4706 or TTY (207) 780-4395.


When and where can I take a Placement Exam?


How do I register for a Placement Exam?

No advance registration is necessary. Simply come at one of the times designated on the schedule to take the exam.


How do I get to the USM campus?

If you need directions to any campus, please see our Website:

On the Portland Campus, you may use the Parking Garage during the week, which is located on Bedford Street.  Visitors may park in the garage for FREE.   The website is:


Is there a fee to take a Placement Exam?

The cost of the exam is included in USM's enrollment fee. Therefore there is no additional charge to take the Accuplacer Math Placement Exam.


How can I prepare?

The best way to prepare for the placement examinations is to familiarize yourself with their organization, content, and the types of questions asked on them.  To be prepared for the actual test administration, you should:

  •  Read information carefully.  Be sure you understand the content of each placement examination. The links below will give you the best idea of what to expect.
  •  Look over the samples.  Included below are sample questions representative of the skills assessed in the placement exam. Try to practice without using a calculator, as calculators are not allowed during the actual exam.
  •  Review weak skill areas.  You may want to review weak skill areas by reading and working similar problems from a standard high school mathematics textbook.

    Remember, your skills are related to the time and effort spent on developing and using them.  Short-term drill and cramming are likely to have little effect.  Systematic review and practice may be more beneficial.
  •  Review examination materials.  Spend some time reviewing the sample test questions. Hours of intense study the night before the tests probably will not improve your performance on the test and may even make you more anxious. But a short review of the examination material may make you feel more relaxed and prepared.

Accuplacer has information available at their website that can help you prepare:

Here is an excerpt from Accuplacer's Sample Question booklet pertaining to the Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra sections.


What if I'm dissatisfied with my score or placement?


* Students can take the Accuplacer Math Tests TWICE in one academic year...we will use the highest score for Required Math Placement.  Student must wait 4 weeks from the first test if re-taking the test.

* Students who have taken the Accuplacer Math Tests over one year ago, and are re-tested....we will use the most recent score for Required Math Placement.

* Accuplacer Math Test scores that are over three years old ...are NOT useable....student must be re-tested.


Should I bring anything with me to the testing room?

You must bring a photo ID (i.e. drivers license, etc.) with you to the test session. You will NOT be able to be tested without it .

You will be given detailed instructions, scratch paper and a pencil for use during the exam.

NOTE: No examination aids are permitted in the testing room, most notably calculators. We ask that you turn off any electronic devices such as cell phones, iPods or other music devices, PDAs, etc and remove any earpieces before you enter the testing room. Please do not bring food or drink to the testing room. Please see the accomodations section for information about accomodations for disabilities.


What if the weather is bad on the day I'm scheduled to test?

If USM cancels classes because of weather, exams are automatically cancelled.  Please call the USM Storm Hotline at 1-800-800-4876 or 207-780-4800 to verify if events will be held as scheduled.


What does my score mean?

Your score is automatically calculated by the Accuplacer Testing Program. There will be two scores, one for each section of the Mathematics Placement Exam. Both scores are used to determine your placement. Please see the Interpretation Page for more information about the scoring rubric. You will receive an Individual Score Report printout before you leave the test session, which contains both scores and the required placement.