Math Placement Test Frequently Asked Questions
Most introductory math courses have prerequisites. The prerequisite may be satisfied by taking the prerequisite course or by placement based on your math placement score. The placement test is used to determine the mathematics course in which you will have the greatest likelihood of success. Upon completion of the placement test, your score will be uploaded to your student record within 24-48 hours. See your adviser to determine the appropriate math course you should register for.
All new incoming first-year students must take math placement via ALEKS PPL. New transfer students are also required to take math placement via ALEKS PPL if they have not completed a math course within three years, or if their math transfer credit is not at least equivalent to MATH 141. There is no charge for the first placement test.
Students that want to attempt to improve their math placement score can take the math placement test in ALEKS PPL again at no charge if the second attempt is taken within twelve months of completing the first placement test.
If the second attempt is taken more than twelve months after setting up your ALEKS PPL account, your first placement score has expired and students will have to pay a $25 registration fee with ALEKS PPL.
If you are a new first time or transfer student you will need to complete the ALEKS PPL test prior to completing your registration survey. Any student wanting to take the placement test a second time may take a test during the semester in-person at the Math Help Center.
Students have to take the test once but can choose to take the test a second time if they are not satisfied with their first score. There is a maximum of two allowed attempts. The second attempt must be taken in person at the Math Help Center.
You may take the first placement test anywhere you have reliable internet access with a suitable environment for taking a test free of distractions.
The second placement test must be taken in person at the Math Help Center.
Newly accepted students can take ALEKS PPL for free. Current students whose math placement access to ALEKS has expired will pay a $25 registration fee for ALEKS PPL.
Possibly, you may need to install the ALEKS Lockdown Browser. If so, you will need administrator rights to install the ALEKS Lockdown Browser. Otherwise, there are no additional plug-ins or applets required with your use of ALEKS PPL. As long as you have reliable internet access and are using an updated browser, you should not experience difficulties in taking your placement test. For a list of preferred browsers, please review the ALEKS system requirements.
ALEKS PPL is an adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. The length of the placement test will vary, but can be up to 30 questions and a maximum of two hours. You may see some, but not all, of the math you have learned in high school. It is a placement test, not a preview of math courses at VCU. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take a placement test you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics. After completing the prep and learning modules, you will have an opportunity to reassess and improve your placement test score through an in person second attempt.
- Real numbers (including fractions, integers, and percentages)
- Equations and inequalities (including linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations)
- Linear and quadratic functions (including graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas), exponents and polynomials (including integer exponents, polynomial arithmetic, factoring, and polynomial equations), rational expressions (including rational equations and rational functions
- Radical expressions (including higher roots and rational exponents)
- Exponentials and logarithms (including function compositions and inverse functions, properties of logarithms, and logarithmic equations)
- Geometry and trigonometry (including perimeter, area, and volume, coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, and identities and equations)
ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial to make sure you are comfortable with the math palette tools before your placement test begins. The tutorial shows you how to enter different types of answers, how to use the ALEKS calculator and how to graph. If you aren’t sure how to input an answer, or need help while you are taking the ALEKS placement test, select the HELP button below the answer pallet tools. Going to the tutorial during your placement test will NOT impact your placement test results.
Taking the Placement Test
ALEKS is NOT a multiple choice placement test. It is open response and requires you to work out solutions with a paper and pencil, then enter them into ALEKS.
You may NOT use a calculator other than the on-screen calculator ALEKS provides when you need one to complete a particular problem.
No, you may only use a pen or pencil, paper and the resources provided within ALEKS. You should not receive assistance from friends, family, other websites, textbooks or any other resource not provided by ALEKS. Using other resources will lead to improper placement and potentially course failure. Using other resources while taking a math placement test is a violation of the VCU Honor System and Standards of Academic Conduct.
No, because ALEKS is adaptive, once you submit an answer, you cannot change it. Be sure to carefully check your answer before submitting your response.
It is likely that you will be asked questions on material you have not yet learned. On such questions it is appropriate to answer 'I don’t know.' On any question that you have familiarity with, it is important to do your best. 'I don’t know' is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that you do not know how to solve the topic, and this will be reflected in the math placement test results. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the math placement test; it only helps ALEKS understand what you know and don’t know.
Yes. You will have two hours to complete a math placement test once it has begun. You must complete the math placement test in one sitting as you must submit your placement test before the two hour time limit expires.
If you exceed the two hour time limit, your test will be stopped and your score is discarded. It is as if you never took the test. There is no way to recover a score. You will need to retake the test and ensure you submit the test before the two hour time limit expires.
There is a 24 hour “cooling off” period between tests. For the second placement test, you will be required to spend 5 hours in the prep and learning modules before you may retake the placement test. Note: the second placement test must be taken in person at the Math Help Center.
Prep and Learning Modules
You will have six months of access to your prep and learning module. Access to the prep course will not begin until you select start on the top of your screen. DO NOT select into the prep and learning module until you are ready to start working.
No, access to one prep and learning module is included along with the additional placement test as long as you take the second placement test within twelve months of your first placement test.
No, you may only use the prep and learning module you were assigned after your initial test.
Yes. Students are required to work in the prep and learning modules for at least five hours prior to the second placement test to increase chances of success.
While working in a prep and learning module, you will periodically complete a knowledge check to make sure you have mastered the topics you gained in learning mode. If you do not show mastery during the knowledge check, the topics will be added back into your learning pie so you can review them again.
No. The second placement test is the only way to update your original placement score.