Carnegie Mellon University

Economics Placement Exam

The Undergraduate Economics Program offers an Economics Placement Exam to those who would like to place out of 73-102: Principles of Microeconomics. The placement exam allows students to demonstrate their mastery of introductory microeconomic knowledge which then allows for appropriate placement in economics courses and economics-adjacent courses (e.g., business courses, public policy courses, etc.). The placement exam tests students’ understanding of microeconomic tools, methods, and intuition. It is used to determine the proficiency of students in majors which require introductory microeconomics. The placement exam is solely for assessment purposes and will have no bearing on your grades.

Students do not have to take the Economics placement exam; it is okay if you decide not to do so! Before signing up for the exam, we encourage you to review the learning outcomes in the 73-102 Principles of Microeconomics course to learn more about the content covered in the course and the type of material that will be included in the placement exam. CMU has an excellent resource called the syllabus registry where faculty link the course syllabi each semester. A syllabus (or if you have more than one, syllabi) outlines the learning outcomes, class policies, office hour information, and assignments/exams. It is an important resource for all CMU courses. You can access the syllabus registry on Canvas (you will enter your Andrew ID and password to enter this site). The syllabi are organized by semester. If you scroll down to the most recent fall semester and click Economics, you will find the syllabus for 73-102-1.

If you've taken AP Microeconomics and feel confident in the topics included in the course, you should consider taking the placement exam. Once you receive your score, you can talk with your advisor about your placement. If you do earn a score that allows you to place out of 73-102 but decide after taking the exam that you still want to take the course, you can.

The exam is open to all students who begin their CMU career in Fall 2022 and later.  Students are only allowed to take the exam once. 

The placement exam will be administered asynchronously online via Canvas. Students should work with their academic advisors for testing access.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge A-level exams credits are granted upon admission to the University and are applied to a student’s overall undergraduate credits on their transcript; this credit does not waive any requisite (course requirements) in the undergraduate Economics program. Students earning  AP, IB, or A exam credit who wish to place out of 73-102 must take the department’s economics placement exam.  

Course pre-requisites are a set of courses (and sometimes conditions such as a minimum grade obtained) that must be completed prior to enrolling in the next level course.  Pre-requisite waivers provides students with permission to enroll in a course without having taken a specific pre-requisite course.  Students passing the CMU economics placement exam who elect to receive the 73-102 pre-requisite waver will have notations placed into their student record indicating that they have met the 73-102 requirement.

The placement exam will be administered asynchronously online via Canvas and will be open June 15 through August 25, 2023. Because the exam is asynchronous, students can take the exam any day they like during the testing window. Once students begin the exam (which is a combination of multiple choice, numerical answers, and short responses), they will have 50 minutes to complete it.

Passing the exam is the equivalent of earning a “C” or higher on the exam.  Students who pass the placement exam may elect to have a prerequisite waiver for 73-102 placed into their student record (SIO). A prerequisite waiver will enable you to enroll in future courses that require 73-102 as a prerequisite.

Please note that no units are awarded for passing the exam.

Skipping 73-102 is an individual decision that should be made in consultation with one’s academic advisor(s). 

The Undergraduate Economics Program encourages students to reflect on the following when making their decision:  a) passing the exam is the equivalent of a "C" or higher; it does not imply excellence; b) downstream courses often refer to topics and examples from pre-requisite courses; and c) a goal of 73-102 is to introduce students to the analytical and data-centric CMU way of economic thinking.  73-102: Principles of Microeconomics has greater depth and breadth than high school/AP/IB/A-level economics courses.

The pre-requisite waiver is not intended to count as a general education requirement for any of the CMU colleges.  The goals of the placement exam were not designed to align with any college's general education goals.  Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor(s) for further clarification.
Earning a 73-102 pre-requisite waiver allows students pursuing any type of economics degree to "skip" 73-102.  Students pursuing economics degrees may be asked to replace the 73-102 units with an additional economics elective.  Please see the course catalog for more details about economics degrees, units per degree, and faculty contact honors.

The Undergraduate Economics Program recommends that students who opt for the pre-requisite waiver take 73-103: Principles of Macroeconomics.