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1. About this Course

This course reviews the fundamentals taught in a college course for nonmathematics majors and majors in fields not requiring knowledge of advanced mathematics. The goal of the creator of this course – Modern States Education Alliance, a non-profit organization – is to prepare you to pass the College Board's CLEP examination and obtain college credit for free

This course is organized into seven topical chapters or modules that contain short video lessons, exercises, readings and other interactive resources. The material covered includes algebra and functions, counting and probability, data analysis and statistics, financial mathematics, geometry, logic and sets and numbers. 

"Through lectures that state basic concepts, wide-ranging exercises to reinforce understanding, and recommended readings to build mastery, you will learn and prepare for the CLEP exam. Mastering the topics presented in this course will allow you to transition to more sophisticated coursework in advanced science, mathematics, computer science, and statistics, says Professor Murphy. 


This exam contains approximately 60 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. An online scientific (nongraphing) calculator is integrated into the exam software, and it will be available to students during the entire testing time. It will be helpful in order to perform calculation such as arithmetic, exponents, roots and logarithms. 

The College Mathematics course is completely self-paced. There are no prerequisites to take this course, and it is entirely free. Any student who wants to save time and money while completing freshman year in college can take it.

2. About James Murphy

Dr. James Murphy is an applied mathematician. His research interests include harmonic analysis, machine learning, and the analysis of remote sensing data. Recent work has focused on fast algorithms for unsupervised learning and development of distance metrics for stochastic data models, with applications to hyperspectral imagery.

Dr. Murphy has taught at some of the world’s finest academic institutions, including the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland College Park, Duke University, and most recently at the Johns Hopkins University. His courses range from introductory statistics and precalculus to research topics courses for Ph.D. students. He was honored with the Aziz/Osborn Gold Medal in Teaching Excellence at the University of Maryland in 2013. He also works closely with undergraduates on research projects in both pure and applied mathematics. Several of his students are currently working on Ph.D.s at top universities. Dr. Murphy earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Maryland College Park in 2015. He earned his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 2011, where he was a Student Marshal and Phi Beta Kappa.

3. Required Knowledge and Skills

Questions on the College Algebra examination require candidates to demonstrate the following abilities in the approximate proportions indicated:

  • Solving routine, straightforward problems (about 50 percent of the examination)

  • Solving nonroutine problems requiring an understanding of concepts and the application of skills and concepts (about 50 percent of the examination)

4. Course Modules

Following are the main topics and percentages of the exam’s questions, mostly based on the College Board's description of the course:

Module 1: Algebra and Functions (25%)


1.1 Equations, Exponents and Inequalities   

1.2 Introduction to Functions   

1.3 Domain and Range   

1.4 Functions   

1.5 Growth   


Module 2: Counting and Probability (10%)

2.0 Introduction   

2.1 Factorials and Combinatorics   

2.2 Probability   


Module 3: Data Analysis and Statistics (15%)


3.1 Visual Analysis of Data   

3.2 Statistics   

3.3 Normal Distributions   

3.4 Bivariate Data   


Module 4: Financial Mathematics (20%)


4.1 Basic Financial Mathematics   

4.2 Interest   

4.3 Present and Future Values   


Module 5: Geometry (10%)


5.1 Lines   

5.2 Triangles   

5.3 Quadrilaterals   

5.4 Circles   


Module 6: Logic and Sets (15%)


6.1 Logical Statements   

6.2 Set Theory   


Module 7: Numbers (10%)


7.1 Properties of Numbers   

7.2 Elementary Number Theory   

7.3 Scientific Notation and Unit Conversion   

7.4 Absolute Value   


5. How CLEP Works

Developed by the College Board, CLEP (College-Level Examination Program®) is the most widely accepted credit-by-examination program.

CLEP’s credits are accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities, according to the College Board. These tests assess college-level knowledge in 33 subject areas.

On average, a college course costs $700 while a CLEP exam costs $80.

Modern States Education Alliance is the non-profit organization behind these edX-style courses. Its project is called “Freshman Year for Free” and its mission is to make college more accessible and affordable through free, high-quality online education.

• CLEP® College Mathematics: at a Glance

• 'Passing the CLEP and Learning with Modern States' orientation course