Initial Mathematics Placement

The primary goal of mathematics placement is to guide students towards courses that enhance their success in post-secondary mathematics. The process is by no means infallible. Students may be placed into courses in which they may not succeed due to their mathematical background, attitude towards mathematics and extracurricular activities. Other students may be placed below their capabilities. Throughout the placement process, the student should reflect on their personal background and assess which courses they are capable of pursuing.

Please read below for answers to frequently asked questions about placement. For additional information on mathematics placement, please see the Academic Catalog.

Who will need mathematics placement?
Primarily two groups of students entering a SD Regental University will be affected by the placement process: Those students who have not met the general education requirement for mathematics (typically College Algebra); or Those students who wish to enroll in Calculus and wish to challenge the pre-requisite course work (students who bring a strong mathematical history from high school).

What are the instruments used for placement?
A student will be placed via the ACT math sub-score (if the score is less then 5 years old from initial enrollment date), or via the COMPASS exam, which is administered at BHSU. The COMPASS exam is administered on a computer and takes approximately 20 minutes. Students who need to take the COMPASS exam should contact BHSU.

What are the ACT math sub-score cut-offs?
0 - 17 Basic Algebra
18 - 19 Intermediate Algebra
20 - 24 College Algebra
25 & up Placement into Trig and/or Calculus via COMPASS

Who should take the COMPASS?
Primarily three groups of students will need to take the COMPASS:
Those students who do not have an ACT subscore which is less than five years old from date of enrollment; or Those students who have some additional exposure to algebra and pre-calculus topics and who believe their ACT score does not reflect their knowledge of the subject may challenge their placement via ACT by taking the COMPASS; or those students with an ACT score of 25 or higher.

Where do I take the COMPASS?
At Black Hills State University the COMPASS has been administered through the Office of Academic Support. Please contact the Office of Academic Support at 1(605) 642-6259 to make an appointment. For more information or questions, please e-mail If you are challenging your placement, you may be requested to provide additional information in regard to your mathematical background.