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Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Information

Who must satisfy the CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) requirement?
How do I register for the ELM exam?
What is the deadline for taking the exam?
When will the ELM exams be given?
What if I live outside of the State of California?
What is the purpose of the ELM requirement?
How long do I have to complete the ELM requirement?
How can I document an exemption to the ELM exam?
If my ELM score is below 50, what developmental Math courses must I take?
If my ELM score is 50 or above, what Math and/or Statistics courses am I eligible for?
Can I take the MAPE exam instead of the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam?
Where can I get help to study for the exam?
Who can I contact for advice?


Who must satisfy the CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) requirement?

The CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Requirement states that all undergraduate students must demonstrate a basic understanding of arithmetic, beginning algebra, geometry, intermediate algebra, and data interpretation/statistics before enrolling in any baccalaureate level mathematics or statistics course. These topics are part of a three-year high school mathematics sequence.

All undergraduate students must take the ELM exam with test exemptions only granted to those who present proof of any one of the following:

  • A result of Standard Exceeded: "Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level coursework in mathematics" on the CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) exam
  • A result of Standard Met: "Conditionally Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level coursework in mathematics" on the CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) exam.
  • A Conditional Ready status may also be earned by receiving a qualifying score on the SAT or ACT test as follows:
         - New SAT Test: A score between 520–560 on the mathematics section of the new SAT Test*
         - Old SAT Test: A score between 490–540 on the mathematics section of the old SAT Reasoning Test
         - A score between 20–22 on the mathematics portion of the ACT Test

    The conditional requirement may be met by completing an approved mathematics course in the 12th grade and earning a grade of "C" or better. Students who do not meet the conditional requirement will need to participate in the CSU’s Early Start Program, unless the student met other Early Start Program exemptions. For more information visit the CSU Success webpage.

  • New SAT Test: A score of 570 or above on the mathematics section of the new SAT*
  • Old SAT Test: A score of 550 or above on the mathematics section of the old SAT Reasoning Test
  • SAT Subject Test: A score of 550 or above on the SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)*
  • A score of 23 or above on the ACT Mathematics Test
  • A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Calculus AB or Calculus BC exam
  • A score or 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Statistics examination
  • Completion and transfer to CSU of a college course that satisfies the requirement in Quantitative Reasoning, provided such a course was completed with a grade of "C" or better. 

*In March 2016, the College Board® began administering a new SAT Test. 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. Students graduating after 2020 will be required to take the new SAT Test.

Nonexempt students must take the ELM exam before enrollment at Cal Poly (see deadline below for 2017 students). Failure to do so will result in a registration hold. Additionally, if the ELM score indicates placement in developmental coursework, such course(s) must be completed within the first year of enrollment to avoid academic disqualification. Students are also required to enroll in a remedial math course each quarter until the requirement has been met.

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How do I register for the ELM exam?

Register online at the CSU's On-line Registration Site. Find information about CSU campus test dates and locations at California State University Placement Tests -use the Test Centers and Test Dates link at upper left side of page.

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What is the deadline for taking the exam?

Students are recommended to take the exam in April or May. New students entering Cal Poly in Summer or Fall 2017 are recommended to take the ELM test no later than May 6, 2017. This is to ensure all students who are not otherwise exempt from taking the ELM test will know whether or not they are required to participate in the Early Start Program. All students who have not demonstrated proficiency in Mathematics will be required to participate in a summer remediation experience, unless they qualify for an Early Start exemption. Students who do not test by May 6 and are not otherwise exempt from the ELM test, along with all students who do not pass the ELM will be required to participate in the Early Start Program. Note:  Participation in Early Start is not a substitute for the ELM exam.  Students not exempt must take the ELM.  Failure to do so will result in a hold on Fall registration privileges.

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When will the ELM exams be given?

Future ELM-EPT test dates for all CSU campuses listed at California State University Placement Tests using the Test Dates link. The following is a list of future dates for the ELM-EPT exams at Cal Poly:

Schedule of Dates and Registration Deadlines
Test Dates
Registration Deadline
February 11, 2017 January 27, 2017
March 18, 2017 March 3, 2017
May 6, 2017 April 21, 2017
July 8, 2017 June 23, 2017
September 17, 2017* August 25, 2017

*IMPORTANT NOTE: These test date will be too late for Early Start placement. Students who take the test on these dates will be required to participate in Early Start if they have no other ELM exemption.

The ELM and the EPT may be taken individually or as a combination. The cost of the ELM exam is $18, paid at the time the exam is taken. Students must pre-register for the exam by the registration deadline. Cal Poly does not allow walk-in testing.

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What if I live outside of the State of California?

If you live outside of the State of California and need to take the ELM test, arrangements for out-of-state testing may be made by calling 1-925-808-2142 or by emailing csuoutofstate@ets.org. Out-of-State testing is arranged for the 2nd week of the month, except in May, when the test is given in the first week. Arrangements must be made by the 15th of the month before the testing will take place. There is an additional fee of $75 for this testing outside of California.

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What is the purpose of the ELM requirement?

Each major program of study at Cal Poly requires at least one mathematics course above the level of intermediate algebra. A statistics class may also be required. The ELM exam is a test of the minimum mathematical skills needed for baccalaureate level courses. To progress effectively and without interruption at the university, students need to demonstrate that they have a basic understanding of arithmetic, beginning algebra, geometry, intermediate algebra, and data interpretation with counting, probability and statistics.

The ELM exam serves as a placement tool. Students who need pre-baccalaureate math support are directed to take a course in beginning algebra and/or intermediate algebra. Students who place into Beginning Algebra, Math 92, must also take Intermediate Algebra, Math 96. Successful completion of Math 96 satisfies the ELM requirement.

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How long do I have to complete the ELM requirement?

Nonexempt students are required to take the ELM exam before enrollment at Cal Poly. If your ELM score indicates that pre-baccalaureate coursework is required, such course(s) must be completed by the end of the first year (June 2018 for students admitted Fall 2017) to avoid academic disqualification. In addition, students must enroll in the appropriate pre-baccalaureate math course each quarter of their first year until the ELM requirement has been fulfilled.

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How can I document an exemption to the ELM exam?

Students meeting the ELM requirement via test scores (AP, SAT, ACT) or by transfer credit from another College/University must provide the necessary documenting evidence to the Cal Poly Admissions office.

Instructions for students reporting AP/SAT/ACT scores.

Students sending transcripts from another College/University may send them to:

Cal Poly State University
Admissions Office (01-206)

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

NOTE: If you are exempt and have received notification you are to take the ELM Exam it means we do NOT have a record of your exemption. It is very important to send this information to the Admissions Office as soon as possible.

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If my ELM score is below 50, what Math courses must I take?

If your score is below 41, you must enroll in Math 92, then Math 96 the following quarter. If your score is between 41 and 49, you must enroll in Math 96.

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If my ELM score is 50 or above, what Math and/or Statistics courses am I eligible for?

If you score 50 or above, you may enroll in any of the following courses: Math 112 or Math 116, and Statistics 130, 217, 218, or 221. A score of 65 or above also qualifies you to enroll in Math 118. Enrollment in higher level coursework requires a passing score on the MAPE.

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Can I take the MAPE exam instead of the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam?

No... the MAPE is used at Cal Poly only if students have satisfied the ELM requirement. You will not be allowed to take the MAPE if you do not have an ELM exemption, or if you have been directed by your ELM score to take pre-baccalaureate math courses.

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Where can I get help to study for the exam?

Reference books at the level of intermediate algebra and the ELM Workbook, giving sample problems and a topic outline of the ELM exam, are available at many college bookstores. Sample problems are also available in the CSU's Focus on Mathematics (pdf), the online version of the ELM Workbook (pdf), and at the CSU Placement Test website: What is the ELM? Beginning and intermediate algebra study aids can also be found by searching online.

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Where can I get more advice?

You can find more information on the ELM requirement in the Cal Poly Catalog under Academic Requirements and Policies or by downloading the latest CSU Placement Test Bulletin found at About CSU Placement Tests.

Clint Hahlbeck, the ELM/MAPE Coordinator, can be reached by email at chahlbec@calpoly.edu, on campus in Building 25, Room 207, or by phone (805) 756-2268.

Information regarding EPT/ELM test registration at Cal Poly can be obtained from the Test Office in Building 124, Room 121 or by calling (805) 756-1551.

For EPT Information, contact the Writing Skills Office in Building 10, Room 130 or call (805) 756-2067.

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