Preparation FAQs

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 success. Upon completion of the Placement Assessment, your score will be uploaded to your student record. If needed, see your adviser to determine the appropriate math course registration.

Who has to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? All students whose Math Placement Score has expired or those that want to attempt to improve their Math Placement Score.

When do I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? Generally you 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. There is usually a high demand prior to and during the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester. Please plan accordingly. There is one exception, students that want to take a Stretch section of Math 131 or Math 141 do not have to take a Math Placement Assessment.

Are ALEKS PPL Assessments proctored? Your Initial Placement Assessment is NOT proctored. Your Placement Assessment for Math Placement Score purposes MUST be proctored.

Where can I take my Placement Assessment? Your Initial Placement Assessment may be taken anywhere. Proctored Placement Assessments are given at the Campus Learning Center.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS PPL? Yes, you will pay for ALEKS with a credit card before you begin. As of January 2017 the fee is $25.

Do I need to install any software or plug-ins prior to taking the ALEKS Placement Assessment? Yes, you will need to install the Respondus Lockdown Browser. Otherwise, there are no required 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 a Placement Assessment. For a list of preferred browsers, please review the ALEKS system requirements on their support site:

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. You will 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.