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1. What is the Entry Level Math (ELM) requirement?

The ELM requirement is designed to assess the skill levels of entering CSU students in the areas of mathematics typically covered in three years of rigorous college preparatory mathematics courses in high school. Those undergraduate students who do not demonstrate college-level skills are directed to remedial math courses designed to help them attain these skills.

2. What is the ELM exam and who needs to take it?

The CSU has developed the ELM exam, a math placement test, in order to determine which students are ready to enroll in college level math courses. Students must take the ELM exam unless they can present proof of one of the following:

Ways to Meet the ELM Requirement

  • CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) – Standard Exceeded: Ready for mathematics college-level coursework
  • CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) - Standard Met: Conditionally Ready for mathematics college-level coursework.  Student must continue their preparation in the 12th grade by taking an approved math course and earn a grade of "C" or better.  Students that do not meet the conditional requirement will need to participate in the CSU’s Early Start Program, unless they meet other Early Start Program exemptions. "Conditionally Ready" students are not required to take the ELM exam.
  • National Standardized Tests

    Test ELM Exemption Score **ELM Conditional Exemption Score
    *New SAT 570 or more on the Mathematics SAT Test 520 - 560 on the Mathematics SAT Test
    Old SAT 550 or more on the Mathematics portion of the SAT Reasoning Test 490 - 540 on the Mathematics portion of the SAT Reasoning Test
    SAT Subject Test 550 or more on the Mathematics Subject Test (level 1 or level 2) N/A
    ACT 23 or more on the Mathematics Test 20 - 22 on the Mathematics Test
    College Board AP 3 or more on Advanced Placement Calculus or Statistics N/A

    * In March 2016, the College Board began administering a new SAT. The new SAT scores are different than the Old SAT scores. The CSU will accept both old and new SAT scores for students graduating in 2020 and prior. Any student graduating after 2020 will be required to take the new SAT. Note: the SAT Subject Test did not change; therefore, the cut score for mathematics subject test (level 1 and level 2) remains the same.

    ** Student must continue their preparation in the 12th grade by taking an approved math course and earn a grade of ‘C’ or better. Students that do not meet the conditional requirement will need to participate in the CSU’s Early Start Program, unless they meet other Early Start Program exemptions.

  • Community College Course – A grade of C or better in a qualifying general education transfer math course (quantitative reasoning, B-4) at a community college satisfies the ELM requirement. See your academic advisor or check the ASSIST course transfer website popup window icon for more information.
  • ELM Examination - Unless students receive an EAP "conditionally ready" status or meet the ELM requirement in one of the ways described above, they must take the ELM examination before their first term at the CSU. If they do not receive a qualifying score on the ELM, they must participate in the CSU Early Start Program in the summer before their first term at a CSU campus.

3. What's on the ELM exam?

The ELM exam focuses on working with numbers and data; the connections between algebra and geometry; and problem-solving.

4. How long is the ELM exam?

The ELM contains 50 multiple-choice questions. Students are allotted 90 minutes to complete the test. Calculators are not allowed during the ELM exam.

5. When should students take the ELM exam?

Students should wait for the first scheduled test administration after they have been admitted unless instructed differently by the campus that admits them. Students must satisfy the ELM Requirement before they can enroll in college-level math courses.

6. How do students register for the ELM Exam?

The ELM is administered at the CSU campuses. Students should reference the ELM Website popup window icon for registration information.

7. Why does the CSU encourage students to take mathematics in their senior year of high school?

Students who complete their last math course in their junior year or earlier often have difficulties with the required college-level mathematics courses and with the ELM requirement.

8. What is the Early Assessment Program (EAP)?

The EAP is the result of collaboration among the California Department of Education (CDE), State Board of Education (SBE), and California State University (CSU). The EAP has been developed to align the competencies required of incoming freshmen with the K-12 standards in English-language arts and mathematics. It is offered at all public California high schools when students take the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in the 11th grade.

9. Why should eleventh-grade students take the CAASPP seriously?

Performing well on the assessments will give students the opportunity to:
  • Earn an exemption for the CSU required mathematics/English placement test.  
  • Identify the need for additional preparation for English and/or math coursework.
  • Adjust senior-year coursework to prepare for college-level courses.
  • Avoid having to invest time and money in college remediation courses that do not count toward a baccalaureate degree.

10. How and when do students participate in EAP

Grade eleven students participating in the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment will receive CAASPP results. CAASPP results will be used as the student’s EAP status.  Marking the release button at the end of the test will allow students to send their CAASPP results to the CSU and/or the CCC.  The release of the results does not affect the student’s application for admission.  Results are only used to determine placement of students after they have been admitted to the university.


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