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SMC|Academic Programs|Mathematics|Assessment and Prerequisites

Assessment and Prerequisites

  • For more information go to the Assessment Center website.
  • High School Student Enrollment

The Mathematics Department at Santa Monica College believes that the single most important success factor is the individual's current skill level. This is measured by the Math Assessment Test. The department also recognizes the importance of study skills, the allowance of time for homework, previous mathematics grades, the length of time elapsed since the completion of the previous mathematics course, completion of course prerequisites, and personal motivation.

Initial Math Assessment Information

In order to take your first mathematics class at Santa Monica College, you must participate in the mathematics assessment program and have completed any required prerequisite mathematics courses.

Based upon your Math Assessment score, you will be allowed to enroll in a specified mathematics course (or any lower level course, if you prefer). Once you begin the mathematics course sequence, you cannot repeat placement tests and must take courses in sequence.

You may be exempt from the Math Assessment if the Santa Monica College Counseling Office can provide a placement recommendation based on your:

Recent course work (within the last two years) or assessments from other accredited colleges including:

  • Completion of pre-calculus or higher level course with a grade of C or better within the past 12 months; or 
  • Cal State's Entry Level Math (ELM) test score with an identifiable course equivalent; or
  • The assessment score from another community college with an identifiable course equivalent; or

Proof of the following:


  • A score of 3 on High School AP Calculus AB allows entry into Math 7.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on High School AP Calculus AB allows entry into Math 8.
  • A score of 3 on High School AP Calculus BC allows entry into Math 8.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on High School AP Calculus BC allows entry into Math 11.
  • A score of 3 on High School AP Statistics waives the IGETC mathematics requirements.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on High School AP Statistics automatically waives Math 52. (Some transfer schools will accept a 3. To be sure, refer to the school's requirements.)
  • SAT scores will not be honored.


The Math Assessment recommendation will indicate the highest level class available to you. In addition, Mathematics Department studies show that:

Mathematics classes require at least two hours of homework for every unit or hour spent in class.

If you can show that you have successfully completed the prerequisite college class in the past two years and can create the recommended study time, you may select the highest mathematics course recommended.

Previous mathematics grades are a strong prediction of success. Consider the last mathematics class that you completed within the last two years with a grade of C or better, with the understanding that earning a C is not a good predictor of success, it is merely an okay to proceed.

If you feel that there is a solid reason that the Math Assessment is not an accurate reflection of your ability, consult with your counselor.

For a waiver to be considered you must provide supporting evidence (i.e. college transcripts, official class syllabus, SMC mathematics instructor letter of recommendation, etc.).

Additional Guidelines (approved August 2011)


The following advice from the SMC Department of Mathematics is for those students planning to enroll in a math course at SMC after having passed the prerequisite course at another college, school or university.


The Department is committed to the success of the students enrolled in its program.  This commitment is exhibited in part by its efforts to ensure that students begin their mathematical study at the appropriate level.
The Department believes that the amount of time that elapses between taking consecutive courses in a math sequence is a significant factor in a student's chance for success.  Unlike some other subjects, mathematics is cumulative.  Instructors expect that students enrolled in their courses have, from the first day of the term, the entry skills as detailed in the official course outlines of record, which are available from counselors, the Department office and the Department web site.
Therefore, if it has been one year or more since you successfully completed the prerequisite mathematics course at another institution, then the Department of Mathematics recommends that you retake the comparable prerequisite course at SMC prior to enrolling in the subsequent course.


For example, if in Spring 2012 you wish to take Math 7 (Calculus 1) and you last successfully completed a pre-calculus course in or before Winter 2011, then the Department recommends that you complete Math 2 (Precalculus) at SMC prior to enrolling in Math 7.