Placement in Mathematics and Statistics

General Information:  Students enter Amherst with varying degrees of preparation in mathematics and statistics.  It is not always easy to decide which course is most appropriate. Students who study mathematics during their first semester at Amherst typically take Math 105, 111, 121 or 211. Students who study statistics during their first year at Amherst typically take Stat 111, 135, or 230. See course descriptions for more information.

There are a lot of ways to complete a major in either mathematics or statistics over the course of your college career.  Below are some sample pathways.  You should construct your own path in consultation with a professor in the department, taking into account your prior preparation, interests, and other commitments:

To determine what mathematics course is appropriate for you, please read on in the Mathematics Placement section. For statistics placement, please scroll down to the Statistics Placement Section.

Orientation Advisors

See Mathematics and Statistics Placement information to aid in Orientation Advising. Contact Professor Danielle Benedetto (x5465 or with questions about Mathematics Placement and contact Professor Amy Wagaman (x2423 or with questions about Statistics Placement.

NOTE: We do our best to make space for all interested students to take our courses, but we cannot guarantee a specific section of a given course. Students may be moved to another section of the same course to balance enrollments.

Please read the following information carefully.

Mathematics Placement

The DEFAULT Calculus placement for most incoming first-year students is Math 111. This placement may be appropriately adjusted based on the following sets of criteria:

AP Calculus Courses:  Students taking an Advanced Placement Calculus course (Calculus AB or Calculus BC) in high school are urged to take the appropriate AP examination.  If your scores have not been reported to Amherst College (this happens to many students who take the AP exams in their senior year of high school), please email an unofficial copy of your scores to Danielle Benedetto at  Otherwise you may be incorrectly placed in the wrong Calculus course. If you do not report your AP Calculus scores, you may receive the default placement of Math 111, and you should contact Professor Danielle Benedetto at

Placement into Math 105 or the Intensive section of Math 111 (Math 111-01): Placement in these sections is based on the student's prior preparation. Students need permission from Danielle Benedetto, the Mathematics Placement Advisor, in order to take a different section of calculus.

To place into Mathematics 121 (Intermediate Calculus), skipping Math 111 (Introduction to the Calculus):

  • Score a 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB test, or score a 3 on the Calculus BC test
  • Place out of Math 111 by taking the Calculus Diagnostic ExaminationNote:  If you are taking the Calculus Diagnostic Exam at any time during the year other than July/early August, please send an email to so your exam will be reviewed and graded.

To place into Mathematics 211 (Multivariable Calculus), skipping Math 111 and Math 121:

  • Score a 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC test
  • Place out of Math 121 by passing a competency exam administered by the Department.  Entering students who need to take the competency exam can do so during Orientation.  Contact Danielle Benedetto.

To place out of Math 211 or higher-level Math courses: Students wishing to be excused from Mathematics 211 need a passing grade on a competency exam administered by the Department or on a transcript for a multivariable calculus course taken before coming to Amherst. The same policy applies to students wishing to be excused from Math 271/272, 350, or 355. In all such cases, the competency exam is intended only for students who have actually taken courses covering some or all of the relevant material. Entering students who need to take the competency exam can do so during Orientation.  Contact Danielle Benedetto.

Students who have done IB or A-Levels:  If your high school math curriculum was based on the International Baccalaureate or A-Levels, then you may be automatically eligible for Math 121 or, in some cases, Math 211.  This depends on several things, including your overall grade and, in the case of IB, whether or not you took the Calculus Option (previously called the Series Option). Please contact Danielle Benedetto so you and she can discuss your background and which math course is most appropriate for you.

Questions about Mathematics Placement:  Contact Danielle Benedetto, the Mathematics Placement Advisor.

Danielle L. Benedetto

Danielle L. Benedetto

Senior Lecturer in Mathematics

Statistics Placement

The DEFAULT Statistics placement for most incoming first-year students is Stat 111. This placement may be appropriately adjusted based on the following sets of criteria:

Math 121 or higher placement, OR AP Statistics 3 or 4:  A student with a mathematics placement of Math 121 or higher (or who completes Math 111 at Amherst) should start with Introduction to Statistics via Modeling, Stat 135, rather than Stat 111. Students with an AP Statistics exam score of 3 or 4 should take Stat 135. This is the recommended statistics course for such students. Students with an AP Statistics exam score of 4 may consider a 200-level course after conferring with the statistics placement advisor. Note that Stat 111 and 135 cannot both be taken for credit.

Potential Statistics and Mathematics Majors: Should enroll in Stat 135, rather than Stat 111.

To place out of Stat 111/Stat 135 and into Stat 230 (or other 200-level course):

  • Score a 5 on the Statistics AP test, OR
  • Complete International Baccalaureate (HL) Levels with the Statistics Option with a score of 6 or 7, OR
  • Contact the statistics placement advisor, Nicholas Horton, and receive approval based on your statistics background

THEN review the preparation for additional courses that follows, and contact the instructor for the course you hope to enroll in BEFORE enrolling in Stat 230 or another 200-level course.

Preparation for Additional Courses: Students who complete Stat 111, Psyc 122, or who have successfully placed out of Stat 111/135 who intend to pursue additional courses in statistics (such as Stat 230, Stat 231, Stat 240) are required to review the material in an “Introduction to Multiple Regression” chapter and are strongly recommended to find a time to meet with a member of the Statistics faculty prior to undertaking additional statistics courses. This material is covered in Stat 135 and is assumed background for statistics electives. For more details on available resources, please see our related resources page here.

Questions about Statistics Placement:  Contact Kevin Donges, the Statistics Placement Advisor.

Kevin A. Donges

Kevin A. Donges

Lecturer in Statistics

A318 Science Center