Department of Physics & Astronomy

Admitted Undergraduate Student Information

This page has specific information for students who have been admitted to UCR as a physics major.

The math placement exam

Your math placement is important and will determine when you can begin taking physics.  If you place into First Year Calculus (Math 9A) or higher, or have received credit for Math 9A through a sufficient AP exam score, you will begin introductory physics in your first quarter with Phys 41A and complete introductory physics in your first year, as shown in this sample program.  We strongly prefer you to follow this path.  The Phys 41ABC series is a special series, just for physics majors.  It is a small class, you will get to know the other majors from day one, and you will be ready for upper-division classes at the beginning of your second year.  However, if you place into Intermediate Algebra (ARC 35), Precalculus (Math 5) or Introduction to College Mathematics for the Sciences (Math 6A or 6B), there are alternative paths for ARC 35, Math 6A, and Math 5 or 6B.

You can find more information about the Mathematics Advisory Exam (MAE) at this web page.  Here is some advice regarding the exam.

  • You may only take the exam once, so be prepared when you take it.  We want you to start physics right away in your first quarter in Phys 41A, which is our special course just for physics majors. 
  • Try to take the MAE exam early.  If you do not place into First Year Calculus (Math 9a) or higher, you may still be able to catch up before the fall quarter, either by taking a math course at a community college, or through the UCR summer bridge program.  If you take the MAE exam later, you may not have the option to catch up before the fall quarter.
  • You may not use a calculator during the MAE exam.  You may be used to using a calculator in your math classes, so you should be prepared to work without one.
  • In addition to algebra, you will be tested on trigonometry. You should know the basics and how to analyze a right triangle.
  • There may be questions where you must recall something from memory, rather than derive it.  For example, the quadratic formula or the relations between the sides and angles of a 30-60-90 degree triangle. 
  • Take the practice test online to get an idea of what the exam will be like.  You may want to do this after you have done some preparation so that it will be a simulation of the real thing.  On your first attempt, try doing it on your own, without references, with a time limit, and without a calculator.  You can then go back and review the sample problems in more detail.

If you have any questions, please contact Owen Long (Chair of the Undergraduate Advising Committee) or Michelle Butler (CNAS Academic Advisor).

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Physics & Astronomy
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Main Office Tel: (951) 827-5331
Main Office Fax: (951) 827-4529
Maynard, Bonnie; Chair's Assistant, Academic Personnel
E-mail: bonnie.maynard@ucr.edu