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Undergraduate Math Course FAQ

Questions About Mathematics Courses

Q: I will be taking a mathematics class next semester. What calculator should I buy?

A: You do not need to purchase a calculator because a calculator is not required for any of the following courses: MATH 4, 21, 22, 26, 41, 110, 140, or 141.

Q: What kind of tutoring programs exist for mathematics courses?

A: For MATH 110

The Mathematics Department and Penn State Learning offer Guided Study Groups for students enrolled in MATH 110. During a GSG session, you will meet with the GSG leader and other students in your class to discuss readings and lectures, ask questions, and share ideas. This program is free for students. Please see the Guided Study Group Session Schedule for times and locations.


Penn State Learning provides tutoring for mathematics courses from Math 2 - Math 251. This service is free and provided on a walk-in basis.

A: For All Other Courses

1. The Mathematics Department provides Private Tutor List which is a list of names of people interested in tutoring. Many of these tutors are current or retired Penn State instructors.Some are Penn State Graduate students.However, these tutors are not vetted by the Penn State Math Department, so the student is encouraged to ask questions before hiring someone.Students will be expected to pay for their tutoring session.

2. The undergraduate Math Club offers free tutoring for certain mathematics courses.

Q: What about other tutoring services in University Park or State College?

A: There are other tutoring services near campus or in town that are private businesses and are not associated with Penn State at all.  You can know that a tutoring service is not associated with Penn State if it does not use the official Penn State logo. The Penn State Math Department has not vetted the private tutoring businesses.

Q: When is my Evening Exam?

A: Check the Evening Exam Schedule for the time and location.

Q: What is the difference between a conflict exam and a makeup exam?

A: A student is permitted to make up a missed exam without penalty if the student has a conflict between an exam or quiz and a scheduled University-approved class or activity. If two or more exams are scheduled for the same time, a student may take the conflict exam. If a student is sick, or cannot attend either the regular exam or the conflict, the student can take the makeup exam.

The conflict exam is given on the same day as a regularly scheduled evening exam. Most regularly scheduled evening exams take place at 6:00 to 7:15 pm, so the conflict exam always takes place prior to the regular exam from 4:35 to 5:50 pm. Students will be not be released from the conflict exam until 5:55 pm. Some courses have late exams, which are given from 7:45 to 9:00 pm, so the conflict exam time for the late exam is from 6:20 to 7:35 pm. Students will be not be released from the late conflict exam until 7:40 pm.

A make-up exam is given for students with a valid, documented reason, such as class conflict or illness during both the conflict and regular exam. Personal business such as travel, employment, weddings, graduations, or attendance at public events such as concerts, sporting events, and Greek Rush events are not valid excuses. A makeup exam is given approximately a week +/- one day after the regularly scheduled evening exam. The makeup exam is scheduled at the same time as the regular evening exam from 6:00 to 7:15 pm or 7:45-9:00 pm.

Q: How do I sign up for a conflict exam?

A: You are required to sign up for a conflict exam with your instructor during your class by the deadline, which is one week in advance of the exam date. A valid documented reason, such as class conflict or other scheduled activity with PSU is acceptable.

Q: How do I sign up for a make-up exam?

A: You are required to sign up for a make-up exam with your instructor during your class by the deadline (2 days) in advance of the make-up date.The instructor will determine if your reason for missing the exam is valid. It is suggested that you email your instructor as soon as you know that you will miss the exam because of illness. An email will document the date and time. A doctor's note is also helpful. A student who starts an exam will be required to finish the exam and will not be allowed to finish it later, even in the case of illness so if you are sick enough that you might not be able to finish the exam, it is better to contact your instructor that you are ill and need to sign up for the make-up exam.

Q: I signed up for the makeup exam, but I do not remember what room it is in. What can I do?

A: If you have not made note of the location, contact your instructor or you may call the Undergraduate Office at 814-865-7528. Your name must appear on the make-up sign up sheet to be accommodated for the exam.

Q: I missed my exam. What can I do?

A: Notify your instructor immediately by email. Email is better than phone, because that you will have a record that you notified the instructor and when. If the makeup exam has not been given, you will have until the deadline to sign up. The deadline is 2 days before the exam. You will be responsible for knowing the make-up exam location. With a valid verifiable reason, the makeup will be given with no penalty. Otherwise, a penalty may be imposed. If the makeup exam has been given, the instructor and course coordinator will decide how you will make up the missed exam.

Q: I believe the grade for my course is an error. What should I do?

A: Contact your instructor. The instructor can change the grade if it is in error.

Q: My TA or Instructor is no longer at the university, but I believe that an error was made in regard to my grade. Who should I contact?

A: You can call the Undergraduate Mathematics Office at 814-865-7528. A staff assistant will then put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Q: How do I get credit by examination?

A: In some circumstances credits may be earned through successful completion of comprehensive examinations, by "credit by exam." A grade of "C" or higher must be earned in the examination for credit to be awarded. The exam is typically the final exam in a course. Authorization is required to acquire credits in this manner. Such authorization may not be granted for the purpose of acquiring credit for a course previously completed for which a quality letter grade has been assigned. Some signatures will need to be obtained to initiate a credit by exam. Please ask the staff in the Math Department in 104 McAllister for instructions about completing the form. For more information, see Senate Policy: 42-50.

Q: I took a MATH course at another institution. How can I have the credits transferred to Penn State?

A: You must submit information to the Admissions office.It will then be evaluated by math advisors. Credit Equivalencies Instructions

Q: I took a MATH course at another institution, submitted it to the Admissions office and it has been evaluated. The course was not deemed equivalent. Rather it has a code. What does the code mean? Can the course still be used in place of a Penn State Course?

A: XFR means Transfer so:

XFRGQ0 means Transfer General Quantitative, Zero level course, such as MATH 21 or 41

XFRGQ1 means Transfer General Quantitative, One hundred level course, such as MATH 110 or 140

XFRGQ2 means Transfer General Quantitative, Two hundred level courses, such as MATH 230

If you course has received one of these designations, please make an appointment with your advisor (or a DUS advisor) and request that they adjust your degree audit.

Q: I am planning to complete a mathematics course this summer at a school near my home. How can I know if the credits will be accepted by Penn State? What should I do before I take the course?

A: The best recommendation for this is a two-step process:

  1. Go to the Transfer Credit Tool.  After walking through this process, if the course already appears in the Penn State system, then the course will transfer after you send the transcript from that school to Penn State, assuming you complete the course successfully.  If you have any difficulty, print the results and take them to the Admissions office.
  2. If your course does not appear in the Transfer Credit Tool, you must submit a syllabus to the Admissions office according to the Credit Equivalencies Instructions.If you don’t have a syllabus contact the institution which is offering the course you want to take and ask for one.
  3. Please note: Course work completed at an accredited college or university may be evaluated for transfer credit if passed with a grade equivalent to A, B, or C. Course work completed on a pass-fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis normally cannot be evaluated for transfer credit.

Q: I took MATH 231 and I am now required to take MATH 230. What can I do?

A: Schedule MATH 232 (2 credits) because together MATH 231 (2 credits) and MATH 232 (2 credits) cover the material in MATH 230 (4 credits).

Q: I took MATH 250 and I am now required to take MATH 251. What can I do?

A: Schedule MATH 252 Section 001 (1 credit) because together MATH 250 (3 credits) and MATH 252 Section 001 (1 credit) cover the material in MATH 251 (4 credits).

Q: Numerous MATH courses appear to be cross-listed with other departments (such as MATH 414 and STAT 414). Are there any differences between the courses?

A: None whatsoever.

Q: May I sign up for STAT 414 even though I need MATH 414 as one of my mathematics major or minor requirements?

A: Yes, the degree audit will handle this situation with no problems.

Q: I need to take a certain MATH course, but all the sections are full. What can I do?

A: It may be possible to sign you into a section that has reached its full enrollment. However, there are two conditions: First, there must be  available seats in the classroom and second, the instructor must agree to accept more students than the course enrollment limit for that section. In such a case, the student needs to take a Drop/Add form to the instructor of the course. If the instructor is willing to add the student to the class, the student should get the instructor’s signature.  Then the student can bring the completed Drop/Add form (signed by both the instructor and the student) to one of two places.  If the form is being turned in before the drop/add deadlines, then the form can be taken to 104 McAllister Building for processing. If the form is being turned in after the drop/add deadlines, then the form must be taken to the Registrar’s Office in the Shield Building.  If there are still seats physically available in the room (the number of seats in the room are set by the fire code, not the Mathematics Department), the student will be put into the course.