On most days I’ll have at least one or two students sitting across from me with this pervasive problem. They’ve completed everything to apply, and they still need to pass the math placement test, or in the case of our nursing students the math placement test and the TEAS (Nursing Pre-Admission) test. You can see the frustration hang in clouds around them as they come to the common issue of mastering math before a deadline. Let us call these two students Sigma (∑) and Mu (µ).

“Do I really need to do this?” Mu asked with a

hopeful glance that I will say no. “Is there someone I can talk to” Sigma plaintively asked, looking to be absolved from the burden of dealing with math. Again I have to break the news that no, they must meet all established requirements. Math for most of the allied health and nursing programs is not something to be taken lightly. The placement test requirement is there to make sure a student is well equipped to deal with the mathematical concepts present in the different disciplines. As such it must be taken to heart that passing the test is not just meeting a requirement, but signaling that you are at least in part ready to tackle the challenge ahead.

Sigma stirs and says, “I’ve completed a degree….I don’t need to take the placement test do I?” The short answer is always yes; all students are required to demonstrate that they are able to operate at the prescribed math level. Not all degrees require college-level math courses and as such a student may in fact still need to take a test. If a student has transferred college-level math to NOVA than a test is not required. For all others taking the math placement test is a must.

“Ok, I get it. I’m going to have to take the math placement test? What can I do now? I’m ‘terrible’ at math,” grumbles Mu. At this point in the visit, the hope starts to drain out of a prospective student, swallowed up by the idea that this abstract assortment of esoteric knowledge will hold them back in their march forward.

Most students do not realize that they can prepare for the math placement test like any other test. They also do not understand that there exists a wealth of resources to get them up to speed in almost any topic imaginable and they’re all for free. The cost to the student is the time and effort it takes to understand the material. (Easier said than done right?) Nothing comes easy, but at the end of the day, the question is how bad you want/need it. For some students, this will mean taking a developmental math course for a semester or two, and potentially missing a deadline. For others, it will involve setting aside other commitments to focus on the primary objective. Math does not need to be the end of the road, often it is just the beginning of it.

Take the time to look over the following links as you prepare to take a step towards your goal.

The first step is to review the Math Placement Test site on the NOVA website. It offers a wide variety of links that may assist you. For many students the practice test and review packet is sufficient.

**Placement test information:**

https://www.nvcc.edu/testing/placement.html

**Review Packet:**

https://www.nvcc.edu/testing/_files/VPTPracticeMaterials.pdf

Some students will wish to practice their math skills before taking the exam. Khan Academy is a free online school. Students typically find that practicing on this site at least an hour a day for a week or two gets them ready for the test.

**Math Practice:**

http://www.khanacademy.org/exercisedashboard

If you are not able to pass the required units that your program application requires, you will then be required to take a developmental math course. Developmental math is not a four letter word, but an opportunity for you to grow academically and better prepared to succeed in your program of choice.