Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Study for the Proctored Assessment


This guide explains the basics of ALEKS assessments.  Remember, this is not a test like the SAT and ACT which are aptitude exams.  ALEKS assessments help place you into the course that best fits you.  It is an adaptive assessment and learning program that provides individualized learning in an open-response environment. 

When to Assess

First year freshmen should take the ALEKS PPL Assessment prior to to their Summer Orientation date.  Your ALEKS PPL access is available for up to six months, so if you are not happy with your placement, you may continue to work in the Preparation and Learning Module and re-assess for a total of five times (three proctored and two not proctored) to try to improve your placement.

What's Covered in Assessments

ALEKS PPL covers a broad spectrum of mathematics, but you'll be asked to solve no more than 30 problems in your placement assessments. After each response, ALEKS refines its model of your knowledge and selects a new problem using that model. You may encounter some topics that you haven't seen before - that's OK!  These are assessments to determine what you do know, not exams to test you on material that you're expected to know.

  • Real Numbers (fractions, integers, and percentages)
  • Equations and Inequalities (linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations)
  • Linear and Quadratic Functions (graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas)
  • Exponents and Polynomials (integer exponents, polynomial arithmetic, factoring, and polynomial equations)
  • Rational and Radical Expressions (rational equations and functions, higher roots, and rational exponents)
  • Geometry (perimeter, area, volume, and coordinate geometry)
  • Exponentials and Logarithms (function compositions and inverses, logarithmic identities, and equations)
  • Trigonometry (trigonometric functions, identities, and equations)

Set the Stage for Success

  • Believe in Yourself - Before beginning the Initial Assessment (un-proctored), take a few minutes to remind yourself of your personal strengths and silence any doubts you have about your math abilities.  You're intelligent, creative, insightful, and successful.  You are a WILDCAT!
  • Don't Worry - You can't fail an assessment.  Your brain will work more efficiently if you push any "what ifs" and other distracting thoughts out of your mind and change your mindset to one of excitement.
  • Trust Your Instincts - ALEKS will look for the boundaries of your current knowledge and may ask about material that is challenging.  Take a shot at every question - you probably know more than you realize.
  • Don't Skip Problems - Only use the "I don't know" button if you have no idea where to start, otherwise, give it your best try.
  • Take Breaks - Solving problems is hard work!  If you find yourself getting tired, distracted or frustrated, log out and come back later.  You have 24 hours to complete the Initial Assessment.
  • Don't Rush - It's crucial that you do your very best so that ALEKS creates an accurate personalized learning path.
  • Check Your Answers - Proofread each answer before submitting it.  Verify your solution by plugging it back into the equation.
  • Do It Yourself - Help ALEKS help you!  You'll scramble ALEKS' sophisticated artificial intelligence if you and your friend solve the problems and ALEKS won't see your knowledge gaps to help you study.
  • Don't Use External Aids - No notes, no texts, no Googling, or calculators!  ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator for complicated calculations.

Assessment Format

 ALEKS is not a multiple-choice Placement Assessment.  It is open-response and requires you to work out solutions with a paper and pencil.  then enter them into ALEKS.  Be sure to have scratch paper with you.

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem, otherwise, you may not use a calculator.

Proctoring Fees

Creating an ALEKS PPL account is free and provides two un-proctored assessments and 3 proctored assessment attempts in a six month period.  The subscription also provides use of a Preparation and Learning module for six months.

Only the first subscription is free. Subsequent subscriptions will incur a fee (currently $20).  

The prescribed math course must be started within one year of the last proctored Placement Assessment.

Placement Results
Course #Course NameScore Range
MATH 109 or 120Calculus I76 - 100
MATH 119Pre-calculus61 - 75
MATH 118Trigonometry0 - 60