Common Placement Issues

Our math placement information for freshmen will be reviewed and updated in July 2017. We anticipate no big changes beyond minor adjustments based on the revised SAT exam and inclusion of recommendations based on ACT scores.

  • 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 SAT scores in general. According to ETS, the middle 50% of Princeton students scored between a 710 and 800 on the math portion of the SAT exam. (Don't let this depress you; it is just one small piece of the whole picture.)
  • Most freshman quickly find their math courses to be much more time-consuming and demanding than anticipated even if they are in the right course. 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? 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. For many freshmen who are interested in science or engineering, combining an ambitious choice of math course with an ambitious choice of science course (particularly Physics!) can be overwhelming.
  • 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