Achieving Success in College Math

Preparing for College Math

Student Preparation plus Engagement equals Student Success

Here are just a few helpful tips that increase your chances at placing and succeeding in college-level math:

Prior to Your Junior Year in High School

  • Take math seriously.
  • Know your basic arithmetic skills as well as algebraic skills with and without a calculator.
  • Focus on making good grades.

Junior Year of High School

  • Continue to take math seriously and make good grades.
  • Take the college placement/assessment exam to understand your current skill level.
  • Take the ACT. Check out the ACT practice resources at the bottom of this page.

Senior Year of High School

  • Take math your senior year!
  • Take the ACT again. See the ACT practice resources at bottom of page.
  • Continue to make good grades and review your basic arithmetic skills (without a calculator) often.
  • Visit the SCC Math Department Web page and read information for prospective students. There are several websites that can be used to help you prepare for the math placement/assessment exam. Practice working the exercises on these websites.

Registering for College Classes

If you did not receive the minimum ACT math subscore, or a passing grade in a transfer class, it is recommended that you take your math placement/assessment exam early in the summer.

Math courses often fill up and leave latecomers with few choices.

Preparing for the Placement/Assessment Exam

  1. Give yourself at least one hour to complete the placement/assessment exam, and take it seriously. (Students may use the on-screen calculator when taking the placement/assessment exam.)
  2. Take advantage of math placement/assessment practice websites:

    • Select Compass Practice, then choose appropriate modules.
    • mathematics, then select content areas to view short sample tests or select PDF versions which provide more sample questions.
    • This is the University of Missouri-St. Louis Math Department Web page with practice exercises.
    • This math site is offered through the University of Missouri-Columbia and provides many sample tests.
  3. If you feel that the math placement/assessment exam has not diagnosed your skills accurately, there is usually a reassessment test and an appeals process that may be used to ensure correct placement. The goal is for you to be placed where you have the best chance for success.

Taking Math Classes in College

  • Once you begin the math sequence, stay in it. Do not take semester breaks between courses in the math sequence if possible.
  • Use the tutoring services on college campuses to get help when needed.
  • Attend class and visit your instructor during office hours as needed.

ACT Practice Resources

Here are just a few practice resources:

Learning Express Library – FREE
Just visit a Missouri public library, including the one at SCC, and ask to set up an account for this self-study option. From there, you can access the website anywhere there is Internet access.

ACT Online Prep™ Program – $19.95 for one year
. Membership includes practice tests with real ACT test questions, practice essays for the new optional ACT Writing Test, with real-time scoring, comprehensive content review for each of the ACT's four required tests – English, Math, Reading and Science, and a diagnostic test and personalized Study Path.

ACT Review Courses – Prices Vary
One example is SCC ’s ACT Cambridge Review course. Within this seven-week evening course, students take a pre-test to identify their strengths and weaknesses, cover all subject areas found on the ACT and learn powerful test-taking strategies. They are given reinforcement modules that include simulated test problems, and they participate in skill-building exercises and practice drills. For more information, visit

Contact Info

SCC Math Department
Phyllis Marchand

SCC Foundation
Tara Cochran

Did you know?

SCC math students have reported successful transitions into four-year colleges and universities.

College Success

In addition to preparing for math in college, there are a number of ways to be successful in college. Check out these tips on being successful in college.