Common Placement Issues


  • Are your math skills particularly rusty after not taking a math course your senior year or spending a gap year in Albania?
  • What do your various test scores say about your current math knowledge? Were they perhaps inflated through the intervention of Kaplan or Princeton Review? Or deflated because you had a 103° fever when you took the AP exam?
  • Princeton students have very high standardized test scores in general. The middle 50 percent Math SAT scores were in the range 700-780 and the middle 50 percent of ACT (composite) scores were in the range 31-35 for the Class of 2021. But remember, this is just one small piece of the whole picture.
  • Most students quickly find that university-level courses are much more time-consuming than anticipated even if they are in the right course. Compared to high school you will likely find that you have to make big adjustments in how you study and in how you manage your time. So think about your priorities carefully. Why are you taking a math course? Do you just love math? (Thank you!) Will math be an important tool in your later course work at Princeton? Are you just dutifully fulfilling a requirement?
  • How heavy is your course load overall? Have you chosen a good balance of courses? When you get tired of working on problem sets will you be able to take a (working) break by reading an interesting book or drafting a paper? For many students who are interested in science or engineering, combining the most ambitious choice of math course with the most ambitious choice of science course can be overwhelming.
  • Talk to your peers to learn more about which freshmen courses are particularly time-consuming and be ready to think realistically about just how much you can handle. Listen to your advisers and weigh their advice carefully. They want you to succeed, and they have lots of experience with students here at Princeton.
  • Leave some room in your life so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities! You'll be finding out a lot about Princeton during the first few weeks of the semester. Be ambitious with your initial choices, but be ready to re-evaluate and adjust if it turns out that you're in over your head.  Talk to your Director of Studies or Director of Student Life about prioritizing and fine-tuning your life if you find yourself overwhelmed.


Undergraduate Placement Officer