Using free online math placement tests can help families pick the best grade level material for their child. [Jump below for a list of free math placement tests from some of the top homeschool math curriculum available.]
Print-Out OR Online Math Placement Testing?
While completing an online math placement test may be more convenient, you will get more accurate results by having your child do the test in a traditional paper and pencil format.
Using a pre-printed math placement test offers 3 benefits by:
- Reducing the writing and mental fatigue that comes from having to copy down math problems before attempting to solve the problems
- Reducing the chance of wrong answers caused by copying errors
- Encouraging kids to actually use scratch paper to solve problems, rather than trying to do all the work in their head
Using a Calculator
Calculators are an excellent tool that all kids should learn how to use once they have mastered essential math concepts. Calculators allow students to complete basic facts quickly so they can focus on solving more complex or multi-step problems.
When students use calculators on a test, however, you have no sure way of knowing if they understand the conceptual process of solving math problems – or if they are simply plugging in numbers to get an answer. In order to obtain an accurate assessment of what your child has truly mastered in the math domain, calculators should not be used on placement tests.
What Math Placement Tests Tell You
Math placement tests are basically end-of-year tests that sample a child’s math skills across all grade-appropriate math topics, from number sense to algebraic skills. A low score on a math placement test does not mean the child has failed the test. Rather, scores help identify math skills that still need to be learned. Here are a few examples of how scores can help you understand a child’s learning needs.
- A score of 46% on a 4th grade math placement test means a child currently knows very little of a standard 4th grade math curriculum. This child should try the 3rd grade (or possibly even the 2nd grade) math placement test to ensure they are placed with optimally challenging math material.
- A score of 65% on a 4th grade math placement test means the child will most likely benefit from beginning their math learning with a 4th grade curriculum.
- A score of 87% on a 4th grade math placement test means the child “placed out” of 4th grade math and should start with a 5th grade math curriculum.
Not Sure About the Placement Recommendation?
No placement test can guarantee a perfect recommendation. With any type of testing, conducting an error analysis and exercising personal judgment goes a long way in individualizing a child’s learning plan.
Some math talented children may receive an unusually low placement test score due to careless mistakes. Understanding how and why mistakes occurred will help with the best placement decision. For some kids, the material may have been too easy and they simply did not bother maintaining their attention to detail. For other kids, they may have a visual tracking problem that causes them to misalign numbers, even though they can do the work in their head. And still other children may have achieved perfect scores in all math topics except for one or two areas, such as measurement or geometry.
Understanding why a child makes math mistakes will allow you to adjust your teaching to the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Free Math Placement Tests
- Math-U-See: Grades Kindergarten – 6th, as well as Pre-algebra to Calculus
- Singapore Math: Grades Kindergarten – 6th
- RightStart Math: Grades Kindergarten – 6th
- ALEKS: Grades Kindergarten – 8th, as well as high school math up to Calculus. Assessment is only available once you enroll, but you can sign up for a free 2-week trial
- Math Mammoth: Grades 1st – 7th, up to pre-algebra
- Lifepac: Grades 1st – 8th and grades 9th – 12th. [Christian curriculum]
- Beast Academy: Grades 2nd – 5th
- Teaching Textbooks: Grades 3rd – 7th, as well as Pre-algebra to Calculus
- Saxon Math (downloadable links):