Entry Level Mathematics (ELM)

The California State University requires all students to take the English Placement Test and the Entry Level Mathematics test prior to enrollment in the California State Universities unless they are exempt by means of scores earned on other appropriate tests such as the ACT, AP, EAP and/or SAT. Although your EPT and ELM test scores are not requested as part of your admissions application to the university, you must satisfy the requirement before enrolling in classes.

Unless exempt, you must take the EPT and ELM tests by May 6, 2017 for fall 2017 enrollment. Because of heavy demand and limited seating, you should sign up for the tests much earlier than the May deadline. If you are required to take the EPT and/or the ELM but fail to do so, you will not be allowed to enroll at California State University, Northridge. If you do not perform well on the test(s), you will be placed in an appropriate developmental program during your first term of enrollment.

General Information

All new undergraduate students entering the California State University are required to take the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) except those who qualify for an exemption. If you are not exempt, you must take the ELM and provide scores to the university prior to beginning your first semester of enrollment. Failure to take the ELM prior to registering for your first semester will result in your not being allowed to enroll at the CSU.

The ELM is designed to assess the skill levels of entering CSU students in the areas of mathematics typically covered in three years of rigorous college preparatory mathematics courses in high school. Those undergraduates who do not demonstrate college-level skills will be directed to courses or programs designed to help them attain these skills.

The ELM examination contains 50 multiple-choice questions (view sample questions). Students are allotted 90 minutes to complete the test. Because the ELM is a placement test, "cut scores" determine what courses students must attend. The cut score for the ELM is 50, on a scale that goes from a lowest possible score of 0 to a highest possible score of 80.

Calculators are not allowed for the ELM placement test. The questions on the ELM do not require involved computations. Rather, the placement test includes problems that emphasize quantitative reasoning and problem solving.

The test content of the ELM emphasizes working with numbers and data, the connections between algebra and geometry, and problem solving. The test provides the major geometric formulae for reference because its purpose is to assess understanding of mathematical concepts and problem solving skills rather than recall of facts and equations.

The ELM examination is given in conjunction with the English Placement Test (EPT). Students may take the test at the most convenient CSU campus. Go to the  CSU EPT/ELM Information Bulletin  for a complete list of ELM and/or EPT test dates and registration procedures on all the CSU campuses. For ELM questions please contact the Testing Center at (818) 677-2369.


The CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) must be completed by all entering undergraduates, with the exception of those who present proof of one of the following:

  • A score of "Exempt" or "Ready for college-level Mathematics courses" on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP), taken in grade 11

  • A score of 570 or above on the mathematics section of the College Board SAT Test

  • A score of 570 or above on a College Board SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)

  • A score of 23 or above on the American College Testing (ACT) Mathematics Test

  • A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Calculus AB or Calculus BC exam

  • A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Statistics examination.
  • Completion and transfer to CSU of a college course that satisfies the requirement in Quantitative Reasoning, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better

A score of "Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level math courses- Conditional

Meets the condition  

  • If your Math SAT score is between 520-560 or your ACT Math score is between 20-22 with successful completion during your senior year of a full-year CSU approved math course with a C or better. 
  • A score of "Conditionally ready for college-level Mathematics courses" or "Conditional" on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP), taken in grade 11 provided successful completion of a CSU-approved 12th grade math course that require Algebra II as a prerequisite

If you have any questions about being exempt from the EPT, check with the Admissions and Records Office, Bayramian Hall, main lobby or call (818) 677-3700.

Test Dates

All 23 California State University campuses administer the ELM (and the EPT) on a variety of variable dates. For a complete listing, check the California State University EPT/ELM Information bulletin. Pay close attention to the registration deadline listed by each test date since your registration must reach the testing office by the registration deadline.

Students may take the test at the most convenient California State University campus. Online registration is available for all campuses.

If you wish to take the ELM at a CSU campus, visit the ETS website at www.ets.org/csu to register online.

CSUN EPT and ELM testing calendar

Test and Registration Dates for Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Test
Test DateRegistration Begins at 8 a.m. onRegistration Ends at 11:59pm onReporting Location

* All CSU campuses give both EPT and ELM on these dates.

+ If you are enrolling for the fall term, this is the deadline for taking the EPT and/or ELM for this campus.


The Entry Level Mathematics exam is given in conjunction with the English Placement Test. Online registration is available for all campuses. Go to the California State University EPT/ELM Information bulletin for a complete list of EPT and/or ELM test dates and registration procedures.

If you wish to take the ELM at a CSU campus, visit the ETS website at www.ets.org/csu to register online.

There is an $20 charge for the ELM, payable when you register for the examination. Students who are unable to pay online via credit card, Paypal or e-check, must contact ETS at (925) 808-2142 for an alternate payment method. No student will be tested without proper payment and picture identification.


Undergraduate appeals for the EPT/ELM, for extenuating circumstances, can be forwarded to the Admissions & Records Office. University policy requires first-time students to take the EPT/ELM no later than May exam date. Students will be prevented from registering for classes in the fall semester and will be required to reapply for fall 2018, attend another CSU or a community college and transfer with minimum of 60 units. Students who missed the deadline may consider submitting an Appeal for an Extension to the Admissions & Records Office. Questions regarding a student's appeal for an extension are to be directed to the Admissions & Records Office in Bayramian Hall, room 100 or 818-677-3700.

Testing Accommodations

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Alternative testing accommodations such as extended time, electronic text, readers or scribes are available through the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) department to students who have a documented disability and require accommodations to take the exam. If you are not a registered student with DRES and have a disability, please visit the DRES website for registration procedures.

In order to receive testing accommodations for the EPT and/or ELM tests, you will need to contact Disability Resources and Educational Services to provide proof of a disability and to schedule the tests. After review of your documentation, DRES will contact you to make an intake appointment with a disability counselor. This appointment should be scheduled at least 14 days prior to the EPT and/or ELM tests. To ensure all accommodations are in place for your tests, it is imperative that you contact the DRES office as soon as possible. Please understand that without the disability documentation and intake appointment we are unable to provide the requested accommodation.

Accommodations for Religious Observances

Non-Saturday testing is available for religious observances. If your religious observance prevents you from taking the test on the scheduled test date, students must sign up for the ELM online and contact the Testing Center to receive alternate testing arrangements at (818) 677-2369. Be prepared to provide documentation. The university ELM registration deadlines apply for all students, and accommodation requests must be submitted by the registration deadline.

ELM Checklist

Weeks before the test 

  • Check your ID
    • Is it an acceptable government-issued ID or a high school ID?
    • Is it current (or has it expired in the last 90 days; school year 2016-2017)?
    • Do your first and last name match the names on your ELM admission ticket and your ID exactly? Corrections must be submitted no later than 4:00 PM (PT) on Friday the week prior to testing by contacting the Testing Center at 818-677-2369.

 1 week before the test

  • Obtain a clear, plastic ziplock bag (maximum size 1 gallon/3.79 liters) to contain “allowable” items in the testing room.

The day before your scheduled test

  • Print an updated ELM admission ticket from the ETS registration website, to ensure that you have the final and correct reporting address for the test.

  • Check the Testing Center's website, for reporting location directions and a map.
  • Review the list of items allowed in the ziplock bag.

 Test day 

  • Report to testing location listed on your admission ticket.  Allowing at least 15 minutes for arrival and parking is recommended.
  • Take only page 1 of the admission ticket to the test.  Leave this checklist at home.
  • Do not take any prohibited items or electronic devices (including cell phones) to the test.  Possession and/or use of such items is grounds for immediate dismissal from the test.

 If you have any questions, please contact the Testing Center at 818.677.2369 or  



Test Day

Items Needed for Admission Testing

  • Admission Ticket. When you registered for the ELM you should have printed out your ticket.  If not, visit the ETS Registration webpage to do so prior to testing day. You must take the ticket with you to testing. Your ticket will contain the following pertinent information: reporting time, reporting address, test center instructions, and test center procedures.

    The address on the ticket is a reporting address. Test takers are responsible for obtaining directions and arriving at the test location no later than the reporting time. The Testing Center strongly advises you to check the institution's website for specific directions to the test location, as well as for parking information and a campus map. Internet map searches may not provide reliable information specific to the reporting location. On test day where multiple rooms or buildings are used, the address will be a centralized location. You will be directed from there to a specific testing room or building.

    For the administrations of the ELM, test takers are required to be at the reporting location no later than their respective test time. Refer to your ELM Admission Ticket for the exact test date and reporting time.

    Prior to reporting to the test location, you must carefully read all pages of your admission ticket. Only page one of the admission ticket should be brought to the test. Your ticket may be used only for the test date printed on it.

    All test takers can reprint their ELM ticket if it is misplaced. Visit the ETS Registration webpage and log in with your personal username and password.

    The Testing Center recommends that test takers print out their ELM Admission Ticket the night before the exam to ensure that they have the most recent and accurate reporting address for their test. Alternate admission tickets will NOT be available on test day. 

NOTE: Test takers should expect the test day to cover up to 4 ½ hours if taking both EPT & ELM.  If taking ELM only, expect up to 2 hours.

  • Identification. You must have a valid government-issued ID that is current (or has expired within 90 days of your test date) or a current school ID that contains a recent and recognizable photo. Your first and last name on your ID must match exactly the first and last name on your ELM Admission Ticket or else you will be denied admission.

    Acceptable common forms of ID include, but are not limited to:

    • Passport book

    • Passport card

    • Driver's license

    • State or province-issued ID card

    • US military ID card (Common Access Card, or CAC)

    • US Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)

    • Canadian Permanent Resident Card

    • National ID card

    • Consular ID card

    • Current school year student ID

    • In some cases, a temporary driver's license if that license has both a physical description and a signature

IMPORTANT: All of the above forms of ID, along with all other forms of ID that may be acceptable, MUST contain a recent and recognizable photo, your first and last name. The ID must sufficiently authenticate your identity to the test center supervisor. Under no circumstances will access be permitted to the test center without proper ID. If you have questions about whether your ID is acceptable, you must contact the Testing Center at least seven (7) days PRIOR to your registered test date and be prepared to submit a scanned copy of your ID for review.

The following items are NOT acceptable forms of ID for access to the test center: Social Security card, Social Insurance card, birth certificate, credit card (including those with photo), ID expired for more than 90 days prior to your test date, photocopied ID, or employee ID (even for government employees), or previous school year student ID.

  • Pencils. Bring to the test center three or four sharpened No. 2 or HB wooden pencils—with good erasers. Pencils or sharpeners will not be supplied at the test center.

  • Social Security Number.  You will need to know your social security number. Do NOT bring your social security card.

Items Allowed in the Test Room

Test takers may bring into the test room only a clear plastic ziplock bag, maximum size one gallon (3.79 liter), which must be stored under the chair. The sealed ziplock bag may contain only the following items: valid ID; wallet; keys; analog (nondigital) wristwatch; medical or feminine hygiene products (including diabetic testing supplies); #2 or HB wooden pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, tissues and beverage in plastic container or juice box (20 oz./591 ml maximum size) and snack for break only. All items must fit in the ziplock bag such that the bag can be sealed.

Items Allowed on the Desktop

Test takers may only have pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener on the desktop. No electronic devices are permitted. Neither are timers of any kind except analog wristwatches.

Items Prohibited in the Testing Location

You may not bring into the testing center or use any of the following:

  • electronic timers of any kind

  • digital watches, alarm watches, beeping watches, calculator watches

  • cell phones, pay phones, beepers, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs)

  • personal computers

  • calculators

  • photographic or recording devices

  • listening devices

  • headsets, iPods, or other media players

  • books, dictionaries, papers of any kind

  • rulers

  • briefcases, handbags, backpacks of any kind

  • earplugs

  • hats/hoods/beanies (except religious apparel) must be removed when entering the room and placed at the front of the room until completion of the exam

  • weapons or firearms 

IMPORTANT: Electronic devices, including cell phones, are not permitted in the test room, and the use of any electronic device is strictly prohibited. Any test taker discovered in possession of or using an electronic device, including but not limited to cell phones, pay phones, pagers, iPods™ or other media players, or personal computers, will be dismissed from the test and their test will not be scored. This policy will be enforced from the time test takers arrive at the test until they leave at the conclusion of the test—including restroom breaks. Violations will be grounds for score cancellation and you may be subject to a CSUN investigation. Test center staff assume no responsibility for personal items.

Test Center Regulations

  • Seating. The supervisor will assign each test taker a seat. Test takers are not permitted to choose their own seats, rooms, or building.

  • No latecomers. Under no circumstances will supervisors admit anyone after testing begins.

  • Restroom use. Use the restroom before checking in; once you are checked in, you will not be permitted to leave until after the start of the test.

  • Test administration. The supervisor will tell you when to start and stop work.  Start and stop times will be written on the board.

  • Time. Supervisors will keep the official time. You may take an analog (nondigital) wristwatch to the test center. No other timers—including electronic and countdown timers—are allowed.

  • Testing staff. Testing staff will circulate throughout the testing room to ensure that examinees are working on the exam and no other materials are in use. The supervisor will announce a ten-minutes-remaining warning.

  • Scratch paper. Scratch paper or any other paper is not permitted.

  • Hats/hoods/beanies. No hats, hoods or beanie may be worn on the head (except items of religious apparel). These items will be left at the front of the room until conclusion of exam.

  • Handbags, backpacks, briefcases. No handbags, backpacks, briefcases, or bags of any kind—except a maximum-sized one-gallon (3.79 liter) clear plastic ziplock bag (sealed)—are allowed in the test room.

  • Food and drink. Food and drink may not be consumed during the test. Food and drinks are allowed if placed in the sealed ziplock bag in the testing room and consumed during the break only.

  • Leaving the room. If you find it necessary to leave the room during the test, raise your hand and obtain permission from the room supervisor. Your test materials will be collected and held until your return. You will not be permitted to make up the time. Use the restroom before reporting to the check-in station; once checked in, you will not be permitted to leave until after the start of the test.

  • Test Center Violations/Irregularities. Room supervisors will report to Testing Supervisor any test center violation/irregularity that occurs during the administration.

  • Testing materials. All testing materials, including test booklets and answer sheets are the property of the Educational Testing Service and must be returned to the room supervisor before dismissal from the test. Under no circumstances may test content or any part of the test be removed, reproduced, or disclosed by any means (e.g., hard copy, verbally, electronically) to any person or entity. Legal action may be taken against anyone who removes or reproduces test materials in any way, or shares test content.

  • Left-handedness. Room supervisors attempt to accommodate left-handed test takers. However, room supervisors cannot guarantee special desks or tables for you.

  • Creating a disturbance. Disruptive behavior in any form will not be tolerated. The test supervisor has sole discretion in determining what constitutes disruptive behavior. The test supervisor is authorized to dismiss from the test center any test taker who creates a disturbance.

Rights and Responsibilities of Test Takers

When you take the ELM, it is your responsibility to report all instances of suspected cheating on the part of any test takers and any other inappropriate behavior that becomes known to you.

You are an important part of protecting the ELM and ensuring a fair test environment. Cheating impacts everyone. If you believe that you have information about actual or potential test security violations, please contact the Testing Center office immediately.


Test Center Violations and Irregularities

If you engage in any test center violation or irregularity during the test—such as creating a disturbance; giving or receiving help; working on or reading the test during a time not authorized by the supervisor; removing test materials or notes from the testing room; taking part in an act of impersonation or other forms of cheating; failing to follow the directions of test center staff; or using books, ear plugs, rulers, papers of any kind, or other aids—you may receive a warning or you may be dismissed from the testing room, have your test score canceled by the Testing Center and you may be subject to other penalties for test center violations or irregularities.

Possible Penalties

Test takers who violate test center regulations, including but not limited to those listed below, will be subject to a warning notice, dismissal from the test center, and/or cancellation of their test score. Test takers may have their cases referred for further investigation to the Student Misconduct Board.

 Possible Test Center Violations

  1. Attempting to take the test for someone else or having someone else take the test for you.
  2. Obtaining or attempting to obtain improper access to the test, a part of the test, or information about the test.
  3. Creating a disturbance. (Disruptive behavior in any form will not be tolerated; the test supervisor has sole discretion in determining what constitutes disruptive behavior.)
  4. Removing or attempting to remove test content from the test center.

    NOTE: Under no circumstances may test content or any part of the test content, including the topic sheet, be removed, reproduced, and/or disclosed by any means (e.g., hard copy, verbally, electronically) to any person or entity. This includes making notes on paper, erasers, or other items and removing them from the test center. Legal action may be taken against anyone who removes test materials and/or reproduces test materials in any way.
  5. Bringing a weapon or firearm into the test center.
  6. Leaving the test center vicinity during the test session or during a restroom break. Test takers may not leave the building or the floor where the test room is located.
  7. Leaving the test room without permission.
  8. Reading, working on, marking, or erasing during unauthorized times, either beyond time limits or before the start of the test in the test booklet.
  9. Copying or other forms of cheating.


Electronic Devices: NO-TOLERANCE POLICY

The Testing Center has adopted a no-tolerance policy with regard to possession of electronic devices. Under no circumstances are test takers permitted to bring an electronic device into the test area. Test supervisors and their staff are advised NOT to hold such items and are instructed to dismiss any test taker found in possession of or using an electronic device. Such devices include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic timers of any kind

  • electronic cigarettes

  • digital watches, alarm watches, beeping watches, calculator watches

  • cell phones, pay phones, beepers, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs)

  • personal computers

  • calculators

  • photographic or recording devices

  • listening devices

  • headsets, iPods, or other media players

Any test taker found in possession of or using an electronic device will be dismissed from the test center and their score will be cancelled.


Test Reporting Location

Visit our Test Reporting Locations Map for driving directions to all on-campus testing locations.

Out of State Testing

Students who are non-California residents and are unable to test at one of the California State Universities and need to test in their home state, must register online at the ETS website and select the test campus as "Out of State.” Please note that there is an out of state testing fee of $75 in addition to the testing fees.

Test Scores

After you have taken the appropriate placement tests, schedule an appointment with your advisor to select the appropriate course(s) to enroll in for your first semester at CSUN. 

Because the ELM is a placement test, scores determine what courses students must attend. The chart below will help you and your advisor select the appropriate course:

Course Placement Determined by ELM Score
ELM ScoreCourse Placement
32 and belowMATH 092: Developmental Math I
34-49MATH 093: Developmental Math II
50 or higherSee advisor for course placement

Failure to complete the required developmental courses in two semesters will result in disenrollment from CSUN. For information about compliance policy, consult the California State University Executive Order 665.


Helpful Sample Materials

You will almost certainly benefit from reviewing for the ELM, especially if you have not taken a math course during the past year. You can find information about the test and practice questions — 50 of them — in the California State University publication Focus on Mathematics. Another California State University publication, the ELM Problem Book, also offers numerous practice problems for review. (Note: You will need Acrobat Reader to view these documents. It is available as a free download.)

See the California State University Math Success website for test review questions.

Additional Information

Additional details may be found at the official California State University EPT/ELM website or the Online ETS Bulletin.


We have also provided a list of EPT and ELM FAQs for any additional questions you may have.

Early Assessment Program (EAP)

Early Start Program