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Placement Advisement


Welcome! So now you have your placement test scores and are still not exactly sure what to choose. Here are some tips that might help you.

It is a good idea to explore the course options open to you since thoughtful consideration now can help you find the class that best fits your academic needs, skills, and learning styles. A good fit in your class selection will put you in a better position to be successful and will ultimately save you frustration, time, and money.

There are several issues to consider when selecting a math course:

  • What are the requirements for my major?
  • What is my current skill level?
  • How much time do I have to spend on this class?
  • What class organization best fits my learning needs?

What are the requirements for my major?
This is best answered in consultation with a PVCC academic advisor or an academic advisor from the university to which you plan to transfer. The math department also has faculty with whom you can talk about specific math courses.

What is my current skill level?
Most individuals quickly lose their math skills after completing a course; therefore, if you have not taken a math course within a year you likely will need to review the old course material – this review can be done on your own or you will need to take the course again. Every course is designed with the expectation that you have already mastered and can perform the tasks from the prerequisite course. If you cannot do so NOW then you are not prepared for the course – even if you have the prerequisite on your transcript. The Math Placement Test given in the PVCC Testing Center is one tool we have available to help you select your course. Keep in mind, however, that the result is just one tool of many to use in making your selection. The number of years since you have taken a math course, the amount of time you will have to devote to the course, and your willingness to work also should be factored in. The less time you will apply to the course and the longer it has been since you have taken any math course the lower the level of math course you should enter.

How much time do I have to spend on this class?
Each of us has only 24 hours every day and those hours must stretch to cover eating, commuting (to school, work, gym, child care), work, exercise or training for a sport, running errands, shopping, taking care of children or a family member, church activities, socializing, walking the dog AND sitting in class, reading and organizing class notes, reading assignments, doing homework, writing essays, research, lab work, and studying for exams. 

Consider your weekly schedule when you are deciding how many hours to take as well as the courses themselves. If you have a lot of open time then enrolling in 12 - 15 hours with one or two demanding courses could work well for you. However, if your time commitments leave only 5 - 10 hours for school related responsibilities then you should take fewer hours or less demanding courses.

MCCCD Math Course Numbers: The number of course credits earned for a particular math course may vary even though the course content does not. This is indicated by the last digit of the course number. Generally, the higher the last digit, the fewer the number of academic instruction hours per week. This translates to a more accelerated learning pace and a greater expectation for work outside of the classroom.

Course number ends in:

Target Population


This is a 5 credit course which equates to 5 academic hours of instruction per week. It is designed for students who will benefit from a slower learning pace and additional time on task with an instructor. Often recommended for students who worked hard for a B or C in the prerequisite course.


This is a 4 credit course which equates to 4 academic hours of instruction per week. The content is the same, but the pace is more accelerated than the course ending with a 0.


This is a 3 credit course which equates to 3 academic hours of instruction per week. This is the most accelerated course designed for students with very strong prerequisite skills.

For example, MAT120 (Intermediate Algebra) will correspond to 5 hours per week of classroom instruction while MAT122 (also Intermediate Algebra) will correspond to 3 hours of classroom instruction per week. Since the content of the two courses is the same, the in-class work for MAT122 will be accelerated and you will be expected to do more on your own outside of class.

What class organization best fits my learning needs?
The main learning environments that we offer generally fall into three categories of most traditional or face-to-face, online and hybrid.

Face-to-face: The basic element that all of these classes has in common is that the number of credit hours is the same as the number of fifty minute sessions the class meets each week. So, a 5 credit hour course will meet in a classroom for 5 x 50 = 250 minutes per week. Different instructors, however, choose from a variety of methods when designing their courses - some might work well for you and some might not. Instructors might rely mostly on lecture while others use extensive group work. Some use calculators on a daily basis while others might never use them. Expectations for homework, exams, and attendance vary greatly. Contact the instructor listed in the Course Schedule to determine the expectations of a specific instructor.

Hybrid: As the name suggests, some of the class material is delivered online and some during face-to-face meetings. This class is best for those who have strong mathematical abilities but still want some planned face-to-face instruction. Due to the reduced meeting time, not all topics can be covered during lecture and so students will need to spend more time outside of class than would be expected for those meeting each day. 

Online: Replacing all of the face-to-face instructional time with computer based learning and online resources allows you to complete courses anywhere you have access to the internet. These classes require reliable web and e-mail access and frequent online communication.  Students are more likely to succeed in online classes if they are totally proficient with technology, self-regulated, self-motivated, and strong readers.