Take the Math Placement Test
ALEKS PPL, a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses, is used to determine a student’s math placement score. 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.
The placement test generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete up to 25 questions.
You will be required to download the Respondus Lockdown Browser and the Respondus Monitor if they are not already downloaded onto your device AND have a computer with access to a webcam in order to take the math placement test. If a download of the Respondus Lockdown Browser is required, you will need administrator rights to install it. 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.
- Students only receive one attempt at the math placement test. Therefore, it is imperative that students make sure they find an appropriate time and space with a reliable internet connection conducive to seriously taking a math placement test.
- There are no outside aids, including calculators, allowed on the placement test. For questions on the placement test that require a calculator, ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator to use. Use of any outside aid is a violation of VCU's Honor System and will be reported to the Division of Student Affairs.
- You must stay in frame the entire test. While completing the test you must stay in frame of the camera for the entire test. Students who do not stay in frame the entire time will automatically be placed into Math 129 or Math 131.
- There is a two hour time limit to complete the placement test. Students who do not submit the test within the 2 hour time limit will automatically be placed into Math 129 or Math 131. Therefore, it is important that you submit the test before the two hour time limit expires.
If you require ADA accommodations, the math department recommends that you visit the Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity office (SAEO) first so they can provide you with appropriate accommodations. If any accommodations affect testing such as extended time, please send an email to the Math Department at firstname.lastname@example.org and attach your accommodation letter from SAEO. We will work with SAEO to make sure you are able to take the math placement test in a manner that allows you to demonstrate your mathematical ability level. Note that in order to meet all accommodations SAEO may provide, you may be required to take the math placement test in person at the SAEO office during their operating hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your attempt will be taken online and monitored via the ALEKS Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor. You will need to install the Lockdown Browser to take the placement exam online. Use of your webcam is required through the Respondus Monitor.
There is no fee for students to take the math placement test with ALEKS within their first year at VCU. After the first year there may be a fee to create an account.
ALEKS is an adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. You may see some, but not all, of the math you have learned in high school. The math department recommends studying these topics prior to taking the math placement test:
- 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.
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.
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, calculators, 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.
Tips for Success
- Be honest. There is no benefit to cheating on the math placement test. You do NOT receive credit for a math class. It does NOT satisfy the Quantitative Foundations requirement for graduation. It does NOT waive or satisfy a required math class needed to graduate. The only result will be that you enroll in a class that you are not ready for, potentially costing you time and money.
- Consider reviewing notes from your last math class, or brush up using online resources prior to starting your placement assessment.
- Find a space to take the test. Make sure it is quiet and distraction free. You have up to two hours to take your assessment, but most students will complete it in 60-90 minutes.
- Get out some paper and a pencil to work out your questions the old-fashioned way.
- Use the tutorial once you are logged in to learn how to use the calculator and graphing tools prior to starting.
- Don’t forget to check your work and answer as many questions as you can.
- Don’t be surprised if you are asked questions on material you do not know. In these cases it is appropriate to answer “I don’t know.” However, if you are familiar with the topic it is better to do your best and try to submit an answer. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question, it only helps ALEKS better understand what you do and do not know.
- Read the above information about taking the test.
- Log in to ALEKS PPL using your VCU eID and password.
- Accept the Terms of Agreement.
- Click on one of the following buttons accordingly:
- “I have never used ALEKS before or I do not have an ALEKS login name” [if you have not previously registered with ALEKS]
- “I have an ALEKS login name” [if you have previously registered with ALEKS (for chemistry, for example)]
- Click CONTINUE.
- Click on “Purchase access online.”
- Enter your VCU email address. You will use this to sign in. You will need to retype your VCU email address.
- For country, choose “United States.” For state, choose "VA." For school, choose “VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIV (Richmond).”
- Check the "I Accept" box, then click "Review Order."