Little can be found on the subject of diagnostic tests unless you ask an upper-classman. This information is especially important to incoming freshmen, who tend to not know anything about the tests because, well, the university doesn't say much about them. So here goes.

Subject A

Students who don't achieve a minimum score on the SAT II Writing have the option of taking the Subject A before Summer Advising. The test is offered at various testing centers throughout the state (usually high schools). Out of state students must take the test at a different time. Students who either fail the Subject A, or fail to take the Subject A, are required to take Workload English. The test is ridiculously easy (if you conform their formulaic way of writing), even for those unsure of their composition abilities. You show up, flash your ID, and they give you a slab of pressboard which is to be your desk for the next three hours (when i took the test, i had a real desk... - Arlen). The test itself is really just a prompted essay. It's usually something really broad, which is why you have one of those little booklets with twelve pages (easy to fill, especially considering the time you're given). You're not required to fill every page or anything, it's just pretty simple if you want to.


The Math Placement test is really difficult to find any information on, and is one of two tests taken during summer advising. This test consists of 60 multiple choice Algebra/Alg II/Precalc questions. There are also 7 trig questions scattered throughout the test. To get into basic/life-sciences calculus (16 series) you must get at least two trig questions right, along with 27 regular questions. To get into calculus (21 series) you must score a 35 overall with three correctly answered trig questions. (Note: The author finished high school having only taken Algebra II, and managed to test into the (now defunct) 17 series. So all you incoming freshmen, don't worry, it's really not bad at all.) The UC Bookstore sells a booklet outlining the types of questions present on the math test, though they're harder than the ones on the actual test. It's only about two bucks, and worth it for the practice. You can petition to get into Math 16A or 21A.

  • I failed to do well enough on this test to gain entry into MAT 021A, but I had taken AP Calc classes in high school, so I was effectively forced to either take the remedial course so I could gain entry to the 21 series or jump immediately to 21B, which is what I ended up doing. I love the stupid rules the University forces on us! —JoePomidor
    • When I was a freshman, you had to pass the AP Calc AB exam with a score of 3 or higher AND get a 35 or higher with a trig subscore of 4 or higher to register in MAT 21B. This lead to lots of people complaining about how they had passed AP Calc AB yet it counted for nothing except for transfer units when they failed the placement exam. But eh... if you didn't get a 35 or higher with a trig subscore of a 4 or higher, you really would benefit from a remedial class. As for me, I figured the classes here were more rigorous than the AP versions and it would bad for me to skip any of them, even if I could. —wl


The Chemistry Placement test also takes place in Haring during summer advising, usually after the math test. It's 35 questions, in about forty minutes (For Summer Advising 2005, Chemistry test had 44 questions). It's pretty standard chem stuff, i.e. balancing equations, (a lot of) molarity problems, and "here's a reactant and a reaction, how much product do I get" kinds of problems. Simple stuff. I think you need a score of 21 in order to get into Chem 2a. Otherwise you can take Workload Chemistry to brush up on your Chemistry skills and then take the test over again. You can petition to get into Chem 2A if you get like a 20 or something.


If you're going to be taking a foreign language at UCD, you need to take this test.

I actually went to Spanish 2 without taking the language diagnostic but I talked to my major advisor first.

  • I placed into a lower french class than I ended up taking, so it seems like this test carries no weight, unlike the others.

At the end of this marathon of testing, you'll get your results from a summer advisor in your small-group discussion unit. Once you have this information, you have to select your classes for scheduling the next day. Don't bother trying to make a schedule that fits all nice and pretty, these plans tend to go down the toilet quickly. Here's what you do. Find which classes you want to take (for example, if you're a biosci major, you'll have calc and chem, plus two or three other classes for units). Look them up in the class schedule and registration guide (it's the flimsy paper booklet). Bookmark the pages that they're on, with the CRN numbers highlighted or bracketed. You do this so that when you go to the computer lab the next day, you'll be able to punch in different CRN's to cobble together a schedule that works. Alternatively, give Siscast a try.

Upper Division Composition Exam

In order to graduate, a student must take an upper division English composition course. However, if you take and pass the Upper Division Composition Exam you don't have to take the class. An undergrad is eligible to take it after having accumulated 70 units, and preferably before earning 120. The test is very similar to the Subject A, but presumably graded with a more stringent eye. Information on the 2005/2006 school year schedule of this test can be found at: