Early Math Placement Tool

Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

Early Mathematics Placement Tool Program (EMPT)

The UW Center for Placement Testing is pleased to introduce the EMPT, an exciting program designed to increase the math readiness of high school students planning to attend a post-secondary institution. Previously, the program ran from the 1980s until the early 2000s. We completed our pilot year with the current EMPT during 2008-09 and are continuing to make the program freely available to all Wisconsin high schools. Benefits of the EMPT include:

  • increasing students' motivation to take an appropriate math course as seniors
  • reducing remedial math for participants by 50% over non-participants
  • increasing calculus readiness for participants by 10% over non-participants

Frequently Asked Questions about the EMPT

EMPT? What is it?

The Early Math Placement Tool is a joint program sponsored by the UW-System, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Department of Public Instruction, in partnership with Wisconsin High Schools, to provide high school students with information on their preparation for college level mathematics. The EMPT is designed to help high school teachers, students, and parents determine what math class is best for a student to take during their senior year.


  1. The EMPT is centrally funded by the State of Wisconsin, so it is free to all Wisconsin high schools.
  2. The EMPT offers teachers increased flexibility. Instructors may choose to offer either an on-line or a paper-and-pencil version of the test.
  3. The EMPT provides improved student- and teacher-level feedback.
  4. The content has been realigned with the UW Mathematics Placement Test to provide a more accurate measure of how students would be placed at the university level.

How does it work?

Presently, the EMPT offers two different versions of the test which instructors may employ as they see fit for their students. The EMPT is a shortened version of the UW Mathematics Placement Test, using items retired from that instrument. It is 45 minutes long and can be taken on-line or reproduced and used in a paper and pencil format. We suggest that students do not use graphing calculators on the exams, as they will not be allowed to use a graphing calculator when they take the actual math placement test. Scoring on-line is automatic. Scoring the paper version can be done by having students record answers on paper so they can enter their answers using the on-line version at another time. Once answers have been entered on-line, the student's score will be generated automatically.

What information does the student get?

The student will receive a placement level reflecting his/her math preparation compared to math classes at each UW and WTCS campus. In addition, the student has access to the Mathematics Requirements by Major, a website that identifies the math requirements for every major offered by Wisconsin public universities and technical colleges.

What information does the teacher get?

Teachers can request summary data by class or course to get a snapshot of group preparation.

Who has access to the student information?

Due to the FERPA laws and the fact that many EMPT participants are minors, this data can only be held within the EMPT database. We are not allowed to release any sensitive information without permission from the students. No identifying information from this program is ever released to school districts, administrators, or within the UW-System. Please reassure your students that the EMPT is solely intended for instructors and students to discover where they currently stand and what steps may be necessary to improve their knowledge base prior to taking the actual Math Placement Test.

Is the EMPT limited to high school juniors?

No. Any student can be given access to the EMPT by high school faculty. For example, this program might be of interest to high school seniors who are planning on attending a University of Wisconsin campus and would like to take a practice test before taking the actual math placement test, or to sophomores who are transferring in from a high school with a very different math curriculum.

How much does it cost?

The EMPT has been funded by the State, so there is no charge to the schools and teachers participating in the program from Wisconsin. High schools outside of Wisconsin are charged $3.00 per student.

When is the program available?

The EMPT is available during the school year from August 1 to June 30.

How do I sign up?

If you would like to participate, please visit our website at http://exams.wisc.edu/empt/register.php. Or you can contact us at:

UW Center for Placement Testing 1025 W. Johnson St., #373 Madison, WI 53706 Phone: (608) 262-5863 FAX: (608) 263-4291 Email: EMPT@exams.wisc.edu

Why didn't I get my password when I registered?

Some school districts have put a very high security level on their spam filters that reject automatically generated e-mails. If that is the case in your district, please ask your IT folks to put empt@exams.wisc.edu on your whitelist of approved, legitimate e-mail addresses.