Whereas many placement testing programs require students to complete multiple tests to be properly placed, the Tailwind mathematics placement exam is sufficiently comprehensive to provide departments with all the information they need to accurately place students into all courses throughout the introductory sequence (remedial math through a first semester course in Calculus and Analytic Geometry).The mathematics placement exam consists of 85 items measuring three broad categories: math fundamentals, advanced algebra, and trigonometry and analytical geometry. Students have ninety minutes to complete the entire assessment and are allowed to use a non-graphing calculator, built into the online system. Three separate scores are reported for each of the above areas and a combination of scores can be used to place students into mathematics courses ranging from developmental level mathematics to calculus. All three components have reliabilities at or above .85.
Most importantly, it works! We have found that students who enroll in the course recommended by our math exam earn an average GPA that is 0.33 - 0.50 better than do students who enroll in a course above the recommended placement. We have found that correctly enrolled students drop less frequently, continue in the discipline longer, and report higher course satisfaction. And we have found that students improve their scores significantly by taking introuctory college-level mathematics courses, a further indication that we are measuring the same skills that we are teaching.