Department of Chemistry

Math Skills Inventory (MSI) Placement Test for Chemistry I CHM 120/ Advanced Chemistry I 130

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 and TJ's tutoring sponsor free group and individual tutoring to all chemistry students.

Fall 2018 MSI Testing Date

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) or Advanced Chemistry I (CHM 130) in the first semester of their first year of college. If you are currently enrolled in or plan to enroll in CHM 120 or CHM 130 for Fall 2018, you are required to take the Math Skills Inventory (MSI) placement test at the following date, time, and location to retain your seat in the course:

MSI Testing

Date: Wednesday August 22, 2018

Start Time: 3:00 PM

Location: Bush Science Center Atrium

Items to bring: laptop, pen/pencil, scientific (non-graphing) calculator

Note: You will be given one hour to answer 40 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 ( by Wed, August 15, 2018. Any other questions regarding the details of the MSI test should be directed to

Need an algebra refresher?

Students in CHM 120/130 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.