Computer Science Placement

Since each incoming student has a special background, any final decision concerning placement in courses may involve discussion among the student, his or her advisor, and the mathematics/statistics and computer science faculty. Generally, the placement process involves these steps:

  1. In consultation with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the computer science faculty make a preliminary placement recommendation, based upon results of standardized tests and the high school transcript.
  2. Upon arrival on campus, the student reviews this preliminary placement with his or her advisor.
  3. If the transcript is incomplete, if the student believes another placement might be more appropriate, or even if the student feels slightly nervous about the placement, then the student may talk with a faculty member for a detailed discussion of placement.
  4. Final placement comes from the consensus reached based on discussions with a student's advisor.

Specific Placement Information

The Department of Computer Science maintains an expert system to provide you with tentative placements in mathematics, computer science, and statistics based on your test scores and transcript.

We encourage you to check your tentative placement. Feel free to contact us for additional information.

Some General Placement Guidelines

Since the Department of Computer Science collaborates with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics on the preliminary placement of incoming students, the following discussion addresses placement in computer science, mathematics, and statistics.

The overall placement process considers may factors, although the following guidelines may provide some general information:

Mathematics

  • The normal first course is Math 131, Calculus I. This course usually is taken by students having a solid mathematics background through pre-calculus or trigonometry and by students with one semester of calculus in high school.
  • Students with two semesters of calculus in high school typically begin in Math 133, Calculus II. Since Grinnell's Calculus II covers multi-variable calculus, most of the material in Math 133 will be new to students with calculus in high school.
  • Students with particularly strong backgrounds start in Math 215, Linear Algebra.
  • Students with weaker backgrounds start in Math 123, Functions and Differential Calculus.

Computer Science

  • Most students begin with CSC 151, Functional Problem Solving. Since Grinnell's introductory computer-science sequence studies alternative views of problem solving (functional, imperative, and object-oriented problem solving), this material is new to most entering students.
  • Students with extensive programming experience may begin with CSC 153, Computer Science Fundamentals. This course assumes considerable background in some programming language, and covers the main elements of functional and imperative programming in one semester.
  • Students interested in placing computing within a broad social and ethical context may start in CSC 105, The Digital Age.

Statistics

  • Most students begin their work in statistics in one of two courses, depending upon their background in mathematics.
    • Math 115, Introduction to Statistics, introduces basic concepts of variability and uncertainty and common statistics concepts, such as point and interval estimation and hypothesis testing.
    • Math 209, Applied Statistics, builds upon a student's calculus background to cover the application of basic statistics using a range of methods.
  • Students with extensive background in both mathematics and statistics may begin with upper-level courses, such as the Design and Analysis of Experiments and Statistical Modeling.

Advanced Placement Policy

Calculus

  • Our research indicates that a score of 3 on the AP AB Calculus Examination is not a good predictor of success in calculus, and our placement considers the rest of a student's transcript. A student may receive 4 credits for this score upon placement in and successful completion of Math 133, Calculus II.
  • Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP AB Calculus Examination or scoring 3 or better on the AP BC Calculus Examination receive 4 credits for Math 131 and may begin in Math 133, Calculus II.
  • Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP BC Calculus Examination may be allowed to begin in Math 215, Linear Algebra. Such students receive 4 additional credits for their AP score upon placement in and successful completion of Math 215. (Such students successfully starting in Math 215 would receive 8 credits overall, 4 for Math 131 and 4 for Math 133.)

Computer Science

  • Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP CS A Examination or scoring 3 or betting on the AP CS AB Examination receive 4 science credits and are encouraged to start in CSC 153, Computer Science Fundamentals.
  • Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP CS AB Examination may be allowed to begin in a 200-level computer science course. Such students receive 4 additional credits for their AP score upon successful completion of the 200-level course as their first computer science course.

Statistics

  • Students with AP Statistics or with a year-long statistics course in high school are encouraged to take mathematics through Math 133, Calculus II, before taking statistics. After Calculus II, students with a very strong statistics background might begin at the 300-level statistics course, while others might consider the calculus-based Math 209, Applied Statistics.
  • Students scoring 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics Examination receive 4 credits for Math 115, Introduction to Statistics. Such students are encouraged to complete mathematics through Math 133, Calculus II (if they have not already done so), and start statistics at the 300 level.

International Baccalaureate Policy

  • Students scoring 4 or better on the IB Math Examination receive 4 credits for Math 131 and may begin in Math 133, Calculus II.
  • Students scoring 6 or 7 on the IB Math Examination may contact the Chair of Mathematics ans Statistics to discuss the possibility of being awarded 4 additional credits, pending initial placement in, and successful completion of, Math 215, Linear Algebra.
  • Students scoring 4 or better on the IB CS Examination receive 4 science credits and may begin in CSC 153, Computer Science Fundamentals.
  • Students scoring 6 or 7 on the IB CS Examination may contact the Chair of Computer Science to discuss the possibility of being awarded 4 additional credits, pending initial placement in, and successful completion of, a 200-level computer science course.

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