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First Year Writing and Math Course Placement

To facilitate appropriate first-year course placement, the CSU evaluates your academic preparation in two areas: written communication and math/quantitative reasoning.

The evaluation takes into account several factors, including overall grade point average, mathematics grade point average, completed terms of secondary coursework, grades in certain senior year classes, SJSU’s Reflection on College Writing, and scores on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, CAASPP/EAP, CLEP, Advanced Placement, Advanced Level, Advanced Subsidiary, and International Baccalaureate examinations.

First Year Writing Course Placement

Freshmen entering SJSU will complete an online Reflection on College Writing exercise to explore writing at SJSU and choose a first-year writing course. The online exercise is offered through Canvas, SJSU’s online course tool. Be alert for emails and MySJSU messages about the Reflection on College Writing. Completing your Reflection on College Writing at least a week before your Sparta Camp orientation session, ensures that you will be able to register for your first-year writing course on day two of Sparta Camp.

Some students will also be required to participate in the CSU Early Start Program, which allows you to explore college reading, writing, and learning strategies the summer before starting fall classes. To find out if you will be required to participate in Early Start, identify your writing enrollment category by reviewing this flowchart, How Do I Know My Writing Course Options.

First Year Math Course Placement

Your math placement is dependent upon your major and your enrollment category. You can confirm your major by reviewing your admission letter. To determine your math course placement and whether you may need to participate in preliminary coursework this summer, please complete both of the following:

  • Determine if your major requires calculus by viewing the Majors Requiring Calculus (STEM) list. If your major requires calculus, please review the Calculus Placement Exam section below.
  • Identify your math enrollment category using the appropriate flowchart below:
     What Are My Math/QR Course Options For Majors Not Requiring Calculus (Non-STEM)?
     What Are My Math/QR Course Options For Majors Requiring Calculus (STEM)?


Your math enrollment category will determine if participation in the Early Start Program is required. Early Start is a summer academic support program that helps first-year students sharpen their mathematics skills prior to fall enrollment. Some students may also receive credit for a semester of mathematics coursework. (Please note that Early Start is not a requirement for out of state students nor for international students studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa.)

Calculus Placement Exam

If your major requires calculus you will be required to take the Calculus Placement Exam (CPE) to register for calculus unless:

You have earned a 3 or better on the AP Calculus Exam. (Request to have your official score report sent to SJSU as soon as it is available.)


You have earned a C- or better in a transferable pre-calculus level course at a community college. (Send your official transcript reflecting this work to the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible.)

To register for the CPE, please visit

For details, exemptions, and other criteria, visit

If you took the Calculus AP exam in high school and have not yet sent us your scores, please contact the Testing Office at to determine your next steps.

Students who would like to be placed in a more advanced math course than determined by their initial evaluation may request a placement test to demonstrate a higher level of skill. For further information, refer to the Appeals Process.