What is the ELM Test?

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Check out this article to find out what the ELM test is used for. You'll also get information about what's on this exam, discover options for opting out, and learn how to prepare for the ELM assessment.

Overview of the ELM Test

The Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) test is one of the placement exams used by California State University (CSU) to assess what math courses incoming students should take. You'll need to complete this exam before you can enroll at CSU, unless you meet one of the opt-out criteria, which generally involves achieving a high mathematics score on another standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT. You can get exact information about applicable tests and scores through the Electronic Testing Service (ETS) website (

ELM Test Content

Questions on the ELM test are divided into three basic categories: numbers and data, geometry, and algebra. There are 50 questions altogether, and you have up to 90 minutes to complete the assessment. Questions are in a multiple-choice format.

This exam requires you to solve arithmetic problems and demonstrate an understanding of percents, ratios, square roots, and various methods of data representation, including charts and graphs. You'll also need to be able to solve algebraic expressions and polynomial equations. Applications of the Pythagorean Theorem and methods for finding the dimensions of various shapes are covered as well. Finally, you're going to need to be able to accurately graph functions and plot points to pass this assessment.

You'll also have access to a reference page of geometric formulas during the exam. Make sure you use it if you need to.

ELM Test Registration

Registration for the ELM exam is completed through the ETS website. You'll need to set up an account before you can register. Then, you can pick the date and time for your exam.

ELM Test Prep Resources

You can find sample questions for the ELM on the ETS website. CSU's website also offers practice problems, math videos, and a study guide you can use as you get ready for the day of the exam. Getting used to solving the types of questions you'll face on the exam can help you feel more confident and perform better on the test.

Additional online study options available to you include's ELM Study Guide. You'll find short, interesting video lessons that go over the mathematical formulas and concepts you'll be tested on. This course is self-paced and can be accessed at any time and from any computer. You can even print worksheets to get extra practice solving math problems offline. Additionally, if you have any questions about the topics you're studying, you can contact mathematics experts for help. also offers help if you need to take CSU's English Placement Test (EPT). Check out this EPT Study Guide to brush up on your essay writing and composition skills. You'll also find lessons that will help you go over reading comprehension so that you can get the score you need on this exam and get placed in the classes you want to take.

Earning College Credit

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To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

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