ELM - Entry Level Math Test

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Who must satisfy the CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) requirement?

The CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Requirement is a requirement that all undergraduate students demonstrate a basic understanding of arithmetic, beginning algebra, geometry, intermediate algebra, and data interpretation/statistics before enrolling in any baccalaureate level mathematics or statistics course. These topics are part of a three-year high school mathematics sequence.

A student satisfies the ELM requirement (at the level of intermediate algebra) by

  1. Qualifying for one of the exemptions listed below, or
  2. Passing the ELM exam at the level of intermediate algebra, or
  3. Transferring to Cal Poly from another college a baccalaureate level mathematics or statistics course above the level of intermediate algebra with a grade of "C" or better (a transcript is needed to verify the passing grade), or
  4. Following the ELM examination placement advice and passing the necessary developmental courses.

At Cal Poly, ELM exam scores are valid for a period of two years.

What are the exemptions?

The CSU Entry Level Math Test must be completed by all entering undergraduates, with the exception of those who meet of one of the following exemptions:

  • New SAT: A score of 570 or above on the mathematics section of the new SAT
  • Old SAT: A score of 550 or above on the mathematics section of the old SAT Reasoning Test
  • SAT Subject Test: A score of 550 or above on the SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)
  • ACT: A score of 23 or above on the American College Testing (ACT) Mathematics Test
  • Calculus (AP): A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Calculus AB or Calculus BC exam
  • Statistics (AP): A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Statistics Examination
  • College Course: Completion and transfer to the CSU of a college course that satisfies the requirement in Quantitative Reasoning, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better
  • EAP: A result of ‘Standard Exceeded: Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level coursework in mathematics’ on the CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) exam.
  • The following Conditionally Exempt statuses require students to continue their preparation in the 12th grade by taking an approved math course and earn a grade of ‘C’ or better. Students that do not meet the conditional requirement will need to participate in the CSU’s Early Start Program, unless they meet other Early Start Program exemptions.
    • New SAT: A score between 520 – 560 on the mathematics section of the new SAT Test
    • Old SAT: A score between 490 – 540 on the mathematics section of the old SAT Reasoning Test
    • ACT: A score between 20–22 on the mathematics portion of the ACT Test
    • EAP: A result of ‘Standard Met: Conditionally Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level coursework in mathematics’ on the CAASPP Early Assessment Program (EAP) exam

Claiming an exemption

If you have met one or more of the exemptions, but are still being told that you need to take either the EPT or the ELM, visit Writing Skills (for EPT) and the Department of Mathematics (ELM) for information on how to claim your exemption.


Students not exempt nor conditionally exempt must take the ELM exam before enrollment at Cal Poly. Failure to do so will result in a registration hold. Additionally, if a student has not satisfied the ELM requirement prior to beginning their first term, the student must enroll in developmental coursework. Such course(s) must be completed within the first year of enrollment to avoid academic disqualification.

When will the exam be given?

The ELM is given on the same dates as the EPT (English Placement Test). The ELM and the EPT may be taken individually or as a combination.

When should you take your EPT/ELM?

ELM-EPT test dates at CAL POLY are:
February 11 January 27
March 18 March 43
May 6 April 21
July 8 June 23
September 9 August 25

Students must pre-register for the exam by the registration deadline. Late or walk-in registration is not permitted at Cal Poly.



Students may take their tests here at Cal Poly or at any other CSU campus that is convenient to them. When you come to take your test, there will be a place on your answer sheet where you will be asked to indicate which CSU campuses you want the scores to be sent to. (You may select up to four.) Official scores will then be automatically sent to the campuses you select, and you will also receive a personal copy for your own records, sent to the home address you provide on the answer sheet.

Requesting Special Accommodations

Students wanting to test at Cal Poly who need special testing accommodations due to disabilities or who need non-Saturday testing due to religious convictions should see our Special Accommodations Request form.

To register to take the ELM and/or the EPT please see the online registration page.

Out-of-State Testing

Students can arrange to take the EPT and ELM tests outside the state of California. Call Educational Testing Service (ETS) at (925)808-2142 or e-mail csuout-of-state@ets.org. Out of state testing is arranged for the 2nd week of the month, except in May when the test is the first week. There is an additional fee of $75 for testing outside of California. ETS is the company that publishes and scores the tests. They can arrange for them to be given at a high school or college in your area.


The cost of the each exam (ELM or EPT) is $18, paid at the time the exam is taken. If both tests are taken, the cost is $36. You must present a check or money order on the day of the test, payable to "ETS". Cash will not be accepted.

ELM policies at Cal Poly

To find out more about the ELM testing policies at Cal Poly, see the Mathematics Department website.

What the test will cover

Calculators are not allowed for the ELM placement test. The questions on the ELM do not require involved computation. Rather, the placement test includes problems that emphasize quantitative reasoning and problem solving.

The content of the ELM test changed in March 2002. An explanation of the new test is available in Focus on Math 2002 (pdf) and a set of sample problems may be found here. Both are publications of the California State University System.

See the CSU Math Success Website for test review questions.

Additional details may be found at the official CSU EPT/ELM Website.

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