Department of Chemistry

Math Skills Inventory (MSI) Placement Test for Chemistry I (CHM 120)

Success in chemistry courses begins with your elementary algebra skills.

Chemistry in Bush

Chemistry in Bush

Students gather to study in the Bush Atrium. The Chemistry Department, the Provost's Office, and the Tutoring and Writing Center sponsor free group and individual tutoring to all chemistry students.

MSI Testing Dates

If you are planning to study biology, biochemistry/molecular biology, chemistry, or marine biology, and/or you intend to be on a health professions (e.g. medical, veterinarian, etc.) or pre-engineering track, you likely need to take a placement test before classes start. Typically, students in any of the above tracks take Chemistry I (CHM 120) in the first semester of their first or second year of college. If you are currently enrolled in or plan to enroll in CHM 120 this fall, you are required to take the Math Skills Inventory (MSI) placement test to obtain and retain your seat in the course.

MSI Testing

The test is taken remotely using your own computer and Rollins login credentials. If you would like access to the URL, please email


Note: You will be given a time limit to answer standardized elementary algebra, multiple choice questions on a computer with free use of scratch paper and the non-graphing calculator. Students with disabilities that require testing accommodations should contact Accessibility Services ( Any other questions regarding the details of the MSI test should be directed to

Need a refresher?

Incoming chemistry students need to be totally proficient in:
  • Unit conversions(dimensional analysis):  If you are a little familiar with chemistry from high school, practice conversions with the mole and Avogadro's number rather than things like feet to inches.  Make sure you can do one-to-three dimensional conversions (e.g. converting milliliters into cubic liters).
  • Fractions and percentages
  • Scientific notation: the way that scientists easily handle very large or very small numbers. For example, instead of writing 0.0000000034, we write 3.4 x 10-9. You need to be completely proficient in scientific notation, including knowing how to add/subtract/multiply/divide numbers in this form and how exponents/roots are handled.
  • Logarithms: you need to be able to use both "log" and "ln" (both bases), and be able to solve something like "9 = log x" for x.
  • You should be able to very easily solve a problem like this: PV=nRT  Rearrange this equation to solve for "n".
  • You should be able to graph simple linear functions and understand y = mx + b.
  • Significant figures: you need to be able to identify the number of significant figures in a number and perform basic mathematical operations while retaining the correct number of significant figures.

Though the MSI assumes absolutely no special test-directed preparation, if you would like to refresh your memory on algebra skills you may refer to this virtual math lab designed by West Texas A&M University.

We are excited to announce a custom-built tutorial site that provides videos from our professors and problem sets that will help you build your pre-chemistry skills in areas you need most! Log into the ChemTutor site with your Rollins credentials. This is freely available to you thanks to a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South and was built as a partnership between Rollins College and Washinton & Lee University.