ELM: An Overview of the Entry Level Mathematics Test

The purpose of the Entry Level Mathematics is to determine whether you're prepared to undertake college-level work in mathematics. The results of the test will be used to place you in the appropriate course. The ELM is composed of 50 multiple-choice questions; 45 of the questions actually count toward your score (the five that don't are random and could be scattered anywhere on the test). You have 90 minutes to complete the test.

Remember, the ELM is a placement test. It doesn't affect your admission to college, but your college uses the scores to place you in appropriate mathematics classes. The ELM test is graded using a formula that gives you a score between 0 and 80: If you score 50 or higher, you'll be placed in regular, college-level math classes. If you score below 50, you'll need to take remedial coursework in math. (The subscores given in the three testing categories will determine your remediation coursework.)

The following list will give you an indication of the basic skills and topics you should be familiar with to pass the ELM. You may wish to use this official list of ELM Topics as a checklist when you begin your review.

Number sense and data

Approximately 35%, or about 15-20 questions

  • Carry out basic arithmetic calculations
  • Understand and use percent in context
  • Compare and order rational numbers expressed as fractions and/or decimals
  • Solve problems involving fractions and/or decimals in context
  • Interpret and use ratio and proportion in context
  • Use estimation appropriately
  • Evaluate the reasonableness of a solution to a problem
  • Evaluate and estimate square roots
  • Represent and understand data presented graphically (including pie charts, bar and line graphs, histograms, and other formats)
  • Calculate and understand the arithmetic mean
  • Calculate and understand the median
  • Make estimates and predictions based on data
  • Distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable claims based on data

Algebra

Approximately 35%, or 15-20 questions

  • Evaluate and interpret algebraic expressions
  • Simplify algebraic expressions
  • Express relationships among quantities using variables
  • Use properties of exponents
  • Perform polynomial arithmetic (add, subtract, multiply, divide, and factor)
  • Perform arithmetic operations involving rational expressions
  • Solve linear equations (with both numerical and literal coefficients)
  • Solve systems of linear equations in two unknowns
  • Solve linear inequalities
  • Solve problems in context that are modeled by linear equations
  • Solve quadratic and rational equations (with both numerical and literal coefficients)
  • Solve problems in context that are modeled by quadratic equations
  • Solve equations involving absolute value (in one variable)
  • Solve inequalities involving absolute value (in one variable)
  • Find and use slopes and intercepts of lines
  • Use constant and average rates to solve problems in context

Geometry

Approximately 30%, or 13-17 questions

  • Find the perimeter, area, or volume of geometric figures
  • Calculate the ratio of corresponding geometric measurements of similar figures (e.g., if the perimeters are in a 3:2 ratio, the areas are in a 9:4 ratio)
  • Use the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Use properties of congruent or similar geometric objects
  • Solve geometric problems using the properties of basic geometric figures (including triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, and circles)
  • Determine angles in the plane (using properties of intersecting lines, parallel lines, and perpendicular lines)
  • Identify and plot points on the number line and in the coordinate plane
  • Plot points on the graph of a function determined by an algebraic expression
  • Graph linear functions and quadratic functions in one variable
  • Relate basic information about a function to features of its graph (linearity, positivity or negativity, increasing or decreasing)
  • Find the length or midpoint of a line segment in the coordinate plane