Diagnostic Exams

The Nicholas School administers diagnostic exams in calculus and statistics during the summer. All students are required to take and pass these exams, regardless of their concentrations or degree. Before taking the exams, students must provide proof of successful completion of the calculus and statistics prerequisites. Completing the prerequisite coursework and the diagnostic exams makes it easier for students to enroll in graduate-level courses in the recommended sequence for their concentration.

We recommend that students review calculus and statistics before taking the exams. While we want students to perform well on the diagnostic exams, we do not want them to stress about them ahead of time. The exams are designed to evaluate the student’s understanding of these subjects and confirm their readiness for graduate-level courses. Students cannot use the diagnostic exams to waive a prerequisite requirement.

Students not prepared to take the diagnostic exams this summer must take the tests in December/January and wait until next Fall to take any course that requires successful completion of the calculus and statistics (prerequisites/diagnostic exams).

Students who earn low or failing grades on the diagnostic exams relative to their peers will be required to self-study or take remedial coursework prior to retesting in late Fall. To avoid this, study ahead of time.

The exams are primarily multiple-choice, and calculators are not permitted. Students will have 1 hour and 15 minutes to take each test.

IMPORTANT! Please read and review the preparation details prior to testing.

Diagnostic tests in calculus and statistics will be administered during the summer.
Testing dates are posted below.

ACCESS TO EXAMS IN CANVAS
  • Only students who have completed prerequisite-level courses in calculus and statistics may take the diagnostic exams this summer. Therefore, if you still need to meet the prerequisites to take the exams this summer, your next opportunity to test will be late Fall 2024.
  •  If you do not see the diagnostic exam(s) on the Canvas site, we have yet to receive proof that you completed the calculus and statistics prerequisites. If you plan to finish one or both prerequisites during the testing window, please send proof of your status in the course to nsoe-registrar@duke.edu. We need to see that you are on track to earn a grade of at least B- or better. When your course(s) ends, you must submit proof of completion.
  • Students close to completing their summer prerequisite course(s) can take the diagnostic exams this summer if they feel prepared. However, in this case, the student must have completed more than 75% of their prerequisite course and be on track to earn a passing grade of at least B- or better. Proof of progress should be sent to nsoe-registrar@duke.edu.
  • After the exam window in summer 2024, the next opportunity to take the diagnostic exams will be in late Fall 2024.
REVIEW SESSIONS 2024

Review sessions will be recorded and posted on the Onboarding website.

  • June 18 at 7:00 PM (ET), Calculus Review Session #1 (Login Details) 
  • June 20 at 10:00 AM (ET), Statistics Review Session #1 (Login Details)
  • July 9 at 10:00 AM (ET), Calculus Review Session #2 (Login Details)
  • July 9 at 7:00 PM (ET), Statistics Review Session #2 (Login Details)
TESTING DATES 2024
  • The diagnostic exams open on Monday, July 15 at 12:00 AM (ET).
  • The diagnostic exams close on Monday, August 5 at 11:59 PM (ET).
  • Each exam is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Students may take the exams at any time during the testing period.

When to Test: If you are ready to take the exams, please go ahead and take the exams between July 15 and August 5. There will be a late summer testing window for students who are completing their prerequisite coursework closer to the start of the school year.

The late summer testing dates: Exams open on Friday, August 16 at 12:00 AM (ET) and exams close on Wednesday, August 21 at 11:59 PM (ET).

PRELIMINARY INSTRUCTIONS

Keep in Mind:

Students can take exams at any point during the exam window. You can decide when to take both exams during the testing window. Both exams can be taken on the same day if you choose. Before the exam window opens, we will provide you access to take a sample exam in Canvas so that you can test your internet connection and to make sure that you can navigate Canvas. Please note that limited tech support will be available over the weekend so please keep this in mind when choosing your test date(s).

  1. You are not permitted to use books, notes, other exams or calculators during the exams
  2. Questions are primarily multiple choice
  3. You will not need a calculator for the exams
  4. You have 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete each exam
  5. The exam software in Canvas will automatically close when you reach the time limit for each exam
  6. You should save your answers frequently throughout the exam so that you do not lose your work
  7. Do not start the exam until you’re ready to complete it; remember it’s timed
  8. You are not permitted to confer and/or consult with other students, people or sources during the exam times or after you complete the test(s)
  9. Be sure to review the Best Practices for Testing before you take the exams.
  10. Students who do not take the exams online before arriving in the fall will have the option to take both exams in August, if they’re eligible. More details about eligibility can be viewed above. Additional questions about eligibility should be directed to Erika Lovelace-Young, Registrar.
REVIEW CALCULUS AND STATISTICS

We encourage students to review the key topics in calculus and statistics over the summer. You can do this by reviewing the key topics in college level textbooks, working through practice problem sets or by taking free online courses (where available). View key topics in calculus and statistics (as well as topics in other prerequisite courses, as needed). Review materials have been included below.

CALCULUS REVIEW

Duke Resources

Non-Duke Resources

  • Students who have already satisfied the calculus prerequisite and submitted official proof of completion may consider enrolling in a Coursera course to review calculus prior to the diagnostic exam. Non-Duke Coursera courses are at the student’s expense.
  • Calculus Part I + Calculus Part II

Supplemental Online Calculus Review Courses with Study Guide 

  • Khan Academy Calculus 1; Khan Academy Multi-variable Calculus; and Study Guide for Khan Academy Coursework
  • It is likely that the content in the courses above exceeds what will be covered on the calculus diagnostic exam. The study guide above direct you to important parts of the course as it relates to the diagnostic exam. For technical questions about the Khan Academy course site, contact the Khan Academy directly.  
STATISTICS REVIEW

Duke Resources 

Supplemental Online Statistics Review

Non-Duke Resources

Khan Academy Resources: Statistics and Probability  

FAILED THE EXAMS?

Pro Tip: Please Do Not Stress! This cannot be emphasized enough. While we want students to perform well on the diagnostic exams, we do not want them to stress about them ahead of time. The exams are designed to evaluate the student’s understanding of these subjects and confirm their readiness for graduate-level courses. Students cannot use the diagnostic exams to waive a prerequisite requirement. Should you fail one or both diagnostic exams, you must retest.

If ENVIRON 710 is required by your concentration, and you don’t pass the statistics exam, don’t worry. You have the opportunity to take a remedial course, audit a remedial course, or study sufficiently to enhance your knowledge of statistics and earn a satisfactory score on a retest. If you achieve a satisfactory score on the retest, you will be allowed to enroll in ENVIRON 710 the next time it is offered, giving you a chance to prove your understanding.

If the two-part economics sequence (ENVIRON 520/521) is required for your concentration, but you fail to pass the calculus exam. In that case, you will need to take a remedial course, audit a remedial course, or otherwise study enough to improve your knowledge in calculus and earn a satisfactory score on a retest. If you earn a satisfactory score on the retest, you can enroll in the two-part economics sequence the next time it is offered. Note: Prerequisite-level courses in calculus and microeconomics are required for the two-part economics sequence.

Retesting: Should you fail one or both diagnostic exams, your next opportunity to test will be late Fall 2024. No retesting will be administered this summer/during Orientation.