Nursing Math Proficiency

Nursing Math Proficiency

Associate Nursing Program: Math Proficiency Requirement

MATH 1000 Proficiency Exam

Anyone entering the associate degree nursing program must take the MATH 1000: Medical Dosage Calculation course or demonstrate proficiency by passing the MATH 1000 proficiency exam, also referred to as a challenge exam. If you pass the exam there is a proficiency exam charge of 25% of the course tuition.

This is not the compass test that you took when you were admitted to the University.

Note: A non-graphing calculator may be used for this exam.

Taking the Exam

As an associate degree nursing or pre-nursing student, you should not take the challenge exam until you have applied and been accepted to begin the nursing or the mobility nursing sequence.

You do not need to register to take the exam, you can just show up at the session that you choose.

The MATH 1000 proficiency exam is available to all pre-nursing students who have been accepted to the begin the nursing sequence and are confident in their basic dosage calculation skills. If you pass this exam, you can by-pass the MATH 1000 math course.

Exam Schedule

Date Time Room
Next scheduled test will be in October 2014            

Exam Fees

There is fee to take this exam. Once you have successfully passed the exam, a fee of 25% of the cost of the course will be added to your student account when the exam results are added to your transcript.

Exam Format

Passing the MATH 1000 proficiency exam means that you are proficient (skilled) in the content of the course: basic dosage calculations. There are 40 questions on the exam, approximately 5 from each of the categories below:

  • Metric system – Including conversions within the metric system and between metric and household units. You must use the conversion factors »
  • Oral medications – Including tablets, capsules, elixirs and suspensions. You will need to pull relevant information from drug labels.
  • Parenteral medications – Including IM, subcu and IVPB or push.
  • Reconstitutions – Including identification of correct mixing instructions from the drug label.
  • Pediatric dosages – Based on the patient's weight in kilograms, expressed in grams, pounds, or pounds and ounces.
  • Safe dosage ranges – Based on patiens's weight in kilograms, expressed in amount per dose or per day.
  • IV calculations – Including flow rates for pumps (mL/h).
  • Ratio, proportion, percent – Basic applications of these types of problems for nursing situations.

Preparing for the Exam

The best way to prepare is to use the book by Gloria Pickar called Dosage Calculations; A Ratio-Proportion Approach, 3rd Edition (ISBN 978-1-4354-5410-1).  This book is required for all students in the associate degree Nursing program, and is readily available in the St. Catherine Minneapolis Bookstore or through Amazon,,, or other sites.  The MATH 1000 course (and therefore the proficiency exam to test out of the course) covers most of the book (chapters 1-15).  If you’ve already taken a dosage calculation course at another college, you can use that book to review for the test, but you will need the Pickar book beginning with NURS 1200/1260 and continuing throughout the Nursing program.  A good way to test your readiness for the test is to do the Self-Evaluation at the end of Section 3 (pages 349 – 360).  You should also be able to answer the questions in Review Set 34 (p. 381) from Chapter 15.  The answer keys are at the back of the book, beginning on page 551 for the Section 3 Self-Evaluation.

Note: You will not be responsible for any calculations involving insulin or medications measured in grains. You do not need to prepare reconstitution labels or indicate on a syringe how much fluid you would draw up. You will not need to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures, but you will need to convert between traditional and international time (for example, 10:15 p.m. = 2215).

You must memorize the following conversion factors:

  • Metric System
Weight 1000 mcg = 1 mg
1000 mg = 1 g
1000 g = 1 kg
Volume 1000 mL = 1 L
1 mL = 1 cc
Length 100 cm = 1 m
  • Household  <–>  Metric System:  (these are approximations)
Weight 16 oz = 1 lb
2.2 lbs = 1 kg
Volume 5 mL = 1 tsp (t)
15 mL = 1 tbsp (T)
30 mL = 1 oz = 2 T
240 mL = 8 oz = 1 cup
480 mL = 16 oz = 2 cups = 1 pt
1000 mL = 32 oz = 4 cups = 2 pts = 1 qt = 1 L
Length 2.5 cm = 1 in

Note: You must bring your own calculator to the exam. You can only use a basic calculator (not a cell phone or scientific calculator in which information can be stored).

Passing the Exam

You will have a maximum of 1.5 hours for the exam. When you are finished, your exam will be scored while you wait. Passing is 90% correct, so you can get up to 4 wrong on the exam.

No, you can only attempt the proficiency exam one time. If you do not pass the exam you will need to register for MATH 1000. This course is a pre-requisite for NURS 1 or NURS 1260, so you must successfully complete it before beginning NURS 1or NURS 1260.

Questions About the Exam

If you have questions about the exam you can contact Deborah Churchill (