Transfer Entrance Exams & Academic Preparation
How do we know that you are academically ready for Caltech?
Transfer students enter as second- or third-year students. That means they have presumably taken classes and mastered the material covered in our first-year Core Curriculum. These include:
- Calculus of One and Several Variables
- Linear Algebra
- Differential Equations
- Probability and Statistics
- Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism
- Waves, Quantum Mechanics, and Statistical Physics
We will look for these classes on your transcript, and we'll measure your preparation through our entrance examinations in mathematics and physics.
Taking the exams
After you submit your transfer application and after the February 15 deadline, you will complete the Entrance Examination Self-Proctor Form through your Caltech applicant portal (called Beaver Breakroom). Once you submit the form, we will send you the exams electronically, along with instructions for uploading your completed work.
You may take the exams on your honor, adhering to Caltech's Honor Code:
No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.
The examinations are due March 1.
Here are some more specifics:
- Each exam has a 4-hour time limit, for a total of an 8-hour commitment. You are not required to take both exams in one day.
- You may only look at the examinations at the time that you take them.
- Reference materials, calculators, electronic devices, textbooks, tablets, notes, or aids are not permitted.
- If you require special testing accommodations, please let us know prior to the application deadline.
Cheating on the examinations only hurts you and your ability to be successful at Caltech. The Caltech curriculum is extraordinarily challenging by design. Don't cheat yourself.
Preparing for the exams
We're interested in seeing how you think. In fact, the process of finding the solution is as important as finding the answer. Here are a couple resources to help you along the way:
- Sample math and physics exam questions (PDF)
- List of math and physics textbooks (PDF) used in first- and second-year Caltech math and physics courses. We recommend using this list as a guide to material that may be covered in the entrance examinations.
The courses for which students will receive credit, and the corresponding class standing, will be determined after a student is admitted. Faculty members review each course submitted for credit on an individual basis. It is not possible, therefore, to answer questions regarding the acceptability of course work taken elsewhere. If the standard of work taken elsewhere is uncertain, additional examinations may be required before the question of credit is finally determined.