# Math Placement Frequently Asked Questions

## Preparation

**Why must I take the ALEKS PPL assessment?**

The placement assessment is used to determine the mathematics course in which you will have the greatest likelihood of success. Upon completion of the placement assessment, your score will be uploaded to your student record within 24-48 hours. If needed, see your adviser to determine the appropriate math course you should register for.

**Who has to take the ALEKS PPL assessment?**

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.

All students whose math placement score has expired or those that want to attempt to improve their math placement score can take math placement in ALEKS PPL again by paying a $25 registration with ALEKS PPL.

**When do I take the ALEKS PPL assessment?**

If you are a new first time or transfer student you will need to complete the ALEKS PPL assessment prior to completing your registration survey. Current students may take an assessment at any time during the semester. Remember, all math courses have prerequisites. The prerequisite may be satisfied by taking the prerequisite course or by placement based on your math placement score.

**Are ALEKS PPL assessments proctored?**

In response to COVID-19, VCU has temporarily waived proctored assessments. Once the situation returns to normal, a proctored assessment will be required.

**Where can I take my placement assessment?**

You may take a placement anywhere you have internet assessment with a suitable environment for taking an assessment free of distractions.

**Is there a fee for using ALEKS PPL?**

Newly accepted students can take ALEKS PPL for free. Current students with whose math placement score has expired will pay a $25 registration fee for ALEKS PPL.

**Do I need to install any software or plug-ins prior to taking the ALEKS placement assessment?**

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 access to the internet and are using an updated browser, you should not experience difficulties in taking your placement assessment. For a list of preferred browsers, please review the ALEKS system requirements.

**What topics are covered during the ALEKS PPL assessment?**

ALEKS PPL is an adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. The length of the placement assessment 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 assessment, 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 assessment you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your placement in the prep and learning modules.

Topics covered:

- 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)

**Can I practice using the ALEKS input tools before I begin the placement assessment?**

ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial to make sure you are comfortable with the math palette tools before your placement assessment 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 assessment, select the HELP button below the answer pallet tools. Going to the tutorial during your placement assessment will NOT impact your placement assessment results.

## Taking the Placement Assessment

**What is the format of the questions on ALEKS?**

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.

**May I use a calculator while using ALEKS?**

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

**May I use any other resources during a math placement assessment?**

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 assessment is a violation of the VCU Honor System and Standards of Academic Conduct.

**Can I review a question after I’ve answered it?**

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.

**What if I see questions I don’t know?**

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, however, 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 assessment results. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the math placement assessment, it only helps ALEKS understand what you know and don’t know.

**Are math placement assessments timed?**

Yes. You will have two hours to complete a math placement assessment once it has begun. You must complete the math placement assessment in one setting.

**What happens if I do not complete an un-proctored math placement assessment in the allotted time?**

If you exceed the two hour time limit, your assessment will be stopped and your score is discarded. It is as if you never took the assessment. There is no way to recover a score. You will need to retake the assessment and ensure you submit the assessment before the two hour time limit expires.

**How soon may I take the next math placement assessment?**

There is a 24 hour “cooling off” period between assessments. Beginning with the second assessment, you will also need to spend time in the prep and learning modules before you may take the next assessment.

## Prep and Learning Modules

**How long do I have access to my prep and learning module?**

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.

**Is there an additional fee for my prep and learning module?**

No, access to one prep and learning module is included along with the additional placement assessments.

**Can I change to a different prep and learning module later?**

No, you may only use the prep and learning module you were assigned after your initial assessment.

**Must I work in my ALEKS prep and learning module between placement assessments?**

Yes, after completing the first assessment.

You have one additional placement assessment after your initial placement assessment to improve your score. (The highest score is used for the math placement score.) Students are required to work in the prep and learning modules for at least eight hours prior to the second placement assessment to increase success.

**What are ALEKS knowledge checks?**

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.

**Does progress in an ALEKS prep and learning module count toward placement?**

No, you must complete a new proctored placement assessment to change your placement result.