Customer Story
Math Placement

How the University of Akron Made Placement Testing Their Own with Möbius

Somlynn Rorie
Somlynn Rorie


Established in 1947 to aid post-World War II veterans, the University of Akron’s Counseling & Testing Center transitioned from paper-based tests to computer-based assessment and evaluation in the 1990s. By the mid-2010s, Dr. Sara Rieder Bennett championed further advancements in math placement testing.


Dr. Sara Rieder Bennett suggested that the University consider Möbius as a potential option for math placement testing, which she learned about while serving as President of the Great Lakes College Testing Association.


The University of Akron has seen improvements in its testing process since implementing Möbius. The platform has streamlined math placement testing, reduced administrative tasks, and allowed faculty to customize tests, ensuring precise student placements and enhancing overall efficiency.

The Details

History of Placement Testing at Akron

In 1947, the University of Akron’s Counseling & Testing Center, known as Measurement Services, was born from the post-World War II surge in college-bound veterans. As part of the United States Veterans Administration, the center aimed to ease veterans’ transitions from military life to academia, offering support for their career paths.

The University of Akron relied initially on paper-based testing, but recognizing the need for a more modern approach, it established the Computer Based Assessment & Evaluation office during the 1990s.  In the mid-2010s, Dr. Sara Rieder Bennett suggested that the University consider Möbius as a potential option for math placement testing, which she learned about while serving as President of the Great Lakes College Testing Association. She continues to co-chair the Placement Testing Committee with Stephanie Kiba, the Assistant Director of Academic Advisement for The University of Akron. 

Using Möbius Functionality to Streamline Test Administration

Today, the University of Akron utilizes Möbius for math placement exams, particularly for students with no ACT/SAT math scores or those majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), business, or finance, which require a strong math foundation. This custom-designed test, delivered via Möbius, comprises 25-32 multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, with a 90-minute time limit and no calculator access.

Flexibility in placement testing is a necessity at the University of Akron, since the student body encompasses a range of majors requiring different math pathways, from engineering with a calculus pathway to non-STEM disciplines that may take Math for Everyday Life and Statistics for Everyday Life. The testing journey typically starts with “MARTH (Möbius Arithmetic),” either for students with lower admissions test scores or those entering without any scores then moves on to basic algebra, algebra, advanced algebra, and, eventually, calculus including intricate trigonometric concepts. However, for students with high entrance exam scores pursuing calculus, an assessment specific to calculus is available, exempting them from prior testing sections.

Initially, students would complete each test and contact their academic advisor for next steps, which was labor-intensive and time-consuming.  However, Möbius includes rule sets, parameters, and algorithms allowing UA to create a branching test, which encompasses all math testing levels and prompts an automated message for students to proceed to the next testing level or contact their academic advisor, thereby streamlining the testing process, lightening the workload for testing staff, and improving the student experience. The math faculty also uses Möbius data and other math scores, along with the ACT/SAT, to review cut scores regularly to ensure that classes admit capable students irrespective of scores without the risk of high failure rates. 

“We have found that Möbius gives us flexibility in its use. We can work with students over their timeframes and address their individualized needs. Our math faculty can select and tweak test items to make it our own rather than relying on a canned test. The flexible testing also eliminates the need for additional tests and retesting of incoming students.”

-Dr. Sara Rieder Bennett, Director of Testing for the University of Akron

Advice About Testing and the Future of Placement at the University of Akron

For those considering Möbius, Dr. Rieder Bennett advises building a diverse team with complementary skills. Each member’s expertise contributes to informed decision-making and effective collaboration. Experimenting with Möbius tools, exploring sandbox courses, and utilizing tutorials can provide valuable insights. Seeking assistance when needed can save time and reduce stress.

Data reviews and periodic check-ins occur with the math sub-group to see what is going well and what is not. Dr. Rieder Bennett believes that the data will need to be reviewed soon (Fall of 2023) due to changes in the curriculum. The team also wants to find ways for students who may be at a different level than their peers to study the same content but with extra tutoring or lab time and additional support from professors and TAs to help the student succeed.

About Dr. Sara Rieder Bennet

Dr. Sara Rieder Bennett is the Director of Testing for the University of Akron (including CTC Testing Services and Computer Based Assessment and Evaluation [CBAE], with CBAE Manager Dr. Kito March). Dr. Rieder Bennett is President of the National College Testing Association (NCTA), Co-Chair of the NCTA Proctor Certification Committee, member of the Association of Test Publishers and NCTA Joint Working Group on Online Observation of Testing Standards, and serves as an advisor and reviewer for NCTA Test Center Certification. She is a past president of the Great Lakes College Testing Association, Past Editor of the Journal of the National College Testing Association (NCTA), and Past Treasurer of NCTA. She is Co-Chair of the Accessibility Committee of the Faculty Senate and co-chair of the Placement Testing Committee at the University of Akron.