Placement tool

Instructions for the Math160/Math170 Placement Tool


  • This is not an entrance test — it is provided as an opportunity to guide you in your choice of a first mathematics paper at Otago.
  • There is no “pass mark” to achieve.
  • It is not compulsory, although we do advocate that you self-test using this guidance tool.
  • We would advise students who do not understand many of the questions to enrol in Math160 (and possibly Math151 before that) — otherwise you would need to take some revisionary work to acquire the background needed for Math170.
  • We keep only anonymous records of your results — in fact your identity is not known to us.

When you are enrolling in your first university mathematics paper at Otago we want to ensure that your level of understanding of the background material guides your choice. The outcome of your study will depend on a number of factors including:

  1. your background knowledge and basic mathematical skills;
  2. the amount of time you are able to commit to your studies;
  3. your motivation;
  4. the ease at which you can acquire new knowledge and skills.

This tool is designed to measure (i). You should also consider the other factors when you judge for yourself whether you should enrol in the introductory Math160 course or the more advanced Math170. We will be available to offer our guidance, but the choice is yours. Even if you feel that you could achieve a C pass in Math170 on the first attempt, you might choose to achieve better grades by taking Math160 first.

We strongly advise you to consult a Mathematics Director of Studies before opting to take Math170 first.


  • You should attempt these questions without using a calculator or similar aide, or use of reference material.
  • Do not ask for help on any questions from someone else — this is meant as a measure of your skill and knowledge.
  • Use a sheet of paper to work out and write down your answer before entering it.
  • There are 10 questions with 25 answers. If you are able to answer most of the questions in each section easily, then Math170 is probably the right course for you. However if you struggle with answering more than a few of the questions, or do not know the material of one or more sections, then we strongly advise you to enrol in Math170.

 Start the tool