Mathematics Placement Assessment with ALEKS PPL

First, RELAX. This is an “assessment,” NOT A TEST. Results of the ALEKS PPL assessment are only used to place you in the best first mathematics course for you based on your degree plan requirements and current skill level. Take this assessment seriously and do your best. If you are placed in a course that is too easy, you waste time and money taking prerequisites you don’t need. If you use outside resources to inflate your score and are placed in a course that is too hard, you are more likely to fail the course and need to repeat it.

For best results on your mathematics assessment:

Do: Don't:
Take the assessment seriously so you can be placed in a course that accurately reflects your current skills.  Don’t get stressed! Scores are only used to place you in your first mathematics course and don’t affect anything else.
Have blank paper and a pencil ready and NOTHING ELSE (no calculator, cell phone, etc.) You may use the onscreen calculator when shown.  Don't be tempted to inflate your placement score by using a calculator, website, or any other resources! You are much more likely to fail a course if your prerequisite skills are rusty or have gaps, or you relied on a calculator for the assessment and need to take course that does not allow you to use one.
Use a computer or tablet with reliable internet access. Chrome / Firefox / Safari are preferred browsers. Don’t take the assessment on a cell phone. The screen is too small to display problems correctly. 
Be careful and take your time. You have up to 3 hours to complete the 30-question assessment.   Don’t rush. Once you’ve submitted an answer, you can’t go back to that question. 
Make an educated guess even if you're not sure of the answer. Don't choose “I don’t know” unless the question is on material you have not yet learned or don't remember at all.
Review your results and list of eligible courses shown onscreen after the assessment. Check the "What score do I need?" tab below to see if you are on track for your major. Don’t procrastinate. If you need to improve your score, allow plenty of time to finish the review / retake process before you need to start your first math course. You have access to the review for up to 1 year from your first assessment date. 

First Year Students: Use the link in your new student portal to access the ALEKS PPL Mathematics Assessment

 

Have more questions about the mathematics assessment?

What is ALEKS PPL?

ALEKS PPL is an artificial intelligence assessment tool that identifies student strengths and weaknesses in mathematics. Using the ALEKS PPL system helps ensure you are adequately prepared for your first mathematics course in college and that you begin with the mathematics course that is most likely to lead to your success.

ALEKS PPL offers you the opportunity to develop your mathematics skills by working through learning modules that are provided free of charge. If you do not achieve your desired placement the first time around, you can work through the modules suggested by ALEKS PPL, then re-take the assessment up to two more times.

What are the rules?

Take the ALEKS PPL assessment honestly and to the best of your ability. An accurate assessment of your current mathematical knowledge helps:

  • your advisor place you in the appropriate first mathematics course; and
  • build the most accurate learning module for your specific needs

To "take the assessment honestly" means you must not consult any outside resources for help (friends/family, phone applications, internet sites, notes, books, etc.). Scratch paper and a pencil is all you need. DO NOT use your calculator.

Please do not be tempted to inflate your placement score by using outside resources! Accurate placement is critically important for your success in mathematics. College level mathematics courses move quickly and assume you have already mastered prerequisite skills. You are much more likely to fail a course if your prerequisite skills are rusty or have gaps, or you relied on a calculator for the assessment and need to take course that does not allow you to use one. Dishonesty is also a violation of the West Chester University Academic Integrity Policy.

If your results are flagged for any irregularity, you may be asked to take a proctored exam to confirm your placement.

What score do I need?

Your goal score depends on the mathematics requirements for your major. Check the specific requirements for your major in the Undergraduate Catalog Program List. The quick reference tables below list requirements for many undergraduate plans.

If you are an Exploratory Studies major, check the requirements for degree plans you’re considering. It is to your advantage to score as high as you can to give yourself options.

Gold Track: Students who plan to major in disciplines that do not require algebra-intensive courses. Includes most programs in Arts and Humanities, Education and Social Work, Health Sciences, and Music, and programs requiring "General Education Mathematics." Check specific course requirements for your major in the Undergraduate Catalog Program List

ALEKS PPL Score Eligible Mathematics Courses
Below 30

MAT Q20 Fundamentals Skills in Arithmetic
(developmental course–does not count toward degree progress)

Goal: 30+

One of the following courses (depending on major):

MAT 101 Mathematics for Teachers of Children
MAT 103 Introduction to Mathematics
MAT 104 Introduction to Applied Mathematics
MAT 121 Introduction to Statistics

Important note: Courses listed above DO NOT progress to Purple Track (algebra-based) courses

Purple Track A: Students who plan to major in disciplines that require some algebra and / or calculus. Includes most programs in Business, Earth Sciences, and Psychology. Check specific course requirements for your major in the Undergraduate Catalog Program List

ALEKS PPL Score Eligible Mathematics Courses
Below 45

MAT Q30 Fundamentals of Algebra
(developmental course–does not count toward degree progress)

Goal: 45 +

MAT 113 Algebra and Functions
MAT 115 Algebra, Functions, and Trigonometry
MAT 125 Introduction to Statistics and Probability

61 +

MAT 143 Brief Calculus
MAT 145 Calculus for the Life Sciences

Purple Track B (Calculus Sequence): Students who plan to major in STEM disciplines such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, or Secondary Education in these fields. Check specific course requirements for your major in the Undergraduate Catalog Program List

ALEKS PPL Score Eligible Mathematics Courses
Below 45

MAT Q30 Fundamentals of Algebra
(developmental course–does not count toward degree progress)

45-74

MAT 131 Precalculus
MAT 151 Discrete Mathematics

Goal: 75 +

MAT 161 Calculus 1

Do I need to take the assessment? When should I take it?

If you are an incoming first-year student, you must complete the mathematics assessment.

  • You should complete the assessment as soon as possible so there is time to review and retake it if needed.
  • You need to take assessment even if you have AP or dual enrollment mathematics credits transferring to WCU. Your schedule will be adjusted later if needed once these credits post.
  • You will not receive a schedule unless all assessments in the First-Year Enrollment Portal are complete, including the mathematics assessment.

If you are a transfer or readmit student, you need to complete the mathematics assessment if:

  • you have not transferred a mathematics course to WCU, or
  • the mathematics course you transferred to WCU does not fulfill the mathematics general education or major requirement, or
  • you need a higher mathematics placement score as a prerequisite for a class

If you are a non-degree student, you need to complete the mathematics assessment if you want to enroll in a mathematics course and

  • you do not have a college-level mathematics course on your transcript, or
  • your previous mathematics course(s) do not meet the prerequisite for the WCU mathematics course you want to take
Take the assessment as early as possible so you have time to review and retake it if you need to!

You must meet the prerequisite ALEKS PPL score before you can enroll in a mathematics course. You will have access to the review modules for 6 months once you start. To give yourself the best chance of meeting your score goal (and getting a seat in the course you want!) do not procrastinate.

I am ready. How do I take the ALEKS PPL assessment?

  1. ALEKS PPL is a web-based program. You need a computer or tablet (such as an iPad) with reliable internet access and a quiet place to work where you won’t be disturbed. Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are preferred browsers. Do not use a cell phone because the screen is too small to display all the information you need.
  2. Have paper and pencil ready and nothing else—no calculator or phone, no friends or family, no nothing! Just you and your writing instruments.
  3. The assessment consists of about 30 questions. Once you begin, you have 3 hours to complete it. Most students take between 60 and 90 minutes. If you don’t complete the assessment within 3 hours, your progress will reset and you will have to start again. IF YOU NEED AN ACCOMMODATION (use a screen reader, etc.) contact mathexam@wcupa.edu before you start the assessment.
  4. Keep in mind:
    • You cannot return to questions after you submit answers because the system is adaptive. Make sure you carefully check your answer before submitting your response.
    • If you have any familiarity with a question, try your best to answer. ALEKS PPL adapts as you work through the assessment, using your answers to pinpoint what you do and don’t know and what questions to present next.
    • You are likely to encounter material you have never learned. On those questions, it is OK to select "I don’t know."
  5. After logging in, you will take a very brief survey, then a short tutorial on using ALEKS PPL. The tutorial shows you how to navigate the ALEKS PPL system and how to enter answers (fractions, math symbols, etc.). Your timed assessment will begin after the tutorial.
  6. Once you complete the assessment, ALEKS PPL shows your score, a pie chart showing your areas of strength and weakness, and a personalized review module.
  7. After you see your results in ALEKS, return to your myWCU portal and complete any remaining tasks. Because the math assessment is web-based, this task may still be marked as 'in progress' in your new student portal, even if you have completed it. Once you see your score on ALEKS, this task is complete even if the status does not update on your task list.
  8. When you're ready, click the purple "Start My Mathematics Assessment" button below. Use your WCU email as your user login and the password you have chosen for your campus e-mail as your password.

I finished my ALEKS PPL assessment. Now what?

Did you meet the goal score for the first mathematics course in your major?

YES: Congratulations! Even if you place into your desired/required mathematics class, there are still good reasons to review and re-take the assessment. Give yourself options and set yourself up for success by trying for highest ALEKS PPL score you can!

  • Improving your background and knowledge prior to taking your required class will likely improve your performance in that course.
  • You may change your major and need to take a higher-level mathematics class.
  • You may be interested in a specialized career path or graduate school that requires a mathematics course beyond your degree plan requirements.

NO: Don’t despair! When you complete the assessment, ALEKS PPL will show your placement score AND will create individualized learning modules for you. These modules are designed to develop your skills and provide you with the opportunity to earn a higher placement. You do not have to complete all the review at once but working through the process in a timely manner is the best way to improve your score.

Once you have spent at least 5 hours working on the review, you will have the opportunity to retake the assessment. If you have not yet met your placement goal, you can work on more review topics (minimum of 8 additional hours), then attempt the assessment for a third and final time.

Please resist the temptation to inflate your placement score by using extra 'help' during the assessment! Accurate placement is critically important for your success in mathematics. College level mathematics courses cover more content in a 15-week semester meeting 3 hours per week than a typical high school course covers in 35 weeks meeting daily. You are much more likely to fail a course if your prerequisite skills are rusty or have gaps, or you relied on a calculator for the assessment and need to take course that does not allow you to use one. If your results are flagged for any reason, you may be asked to retake the assessment with proctoring.

If you do not reach the minimum goal score for the mathematics course on your degree plan, you will be placed in a developmental course that does not count toward the 120 credits required for graduation. This means you will need to take MAT Q20 or MAT Q30 (depending on your major) AND at least one additional mathematics course.

To give yourself the best chance of improving your placement:

  • Don’t procrastinate. Working through the review/retake process in a short time frame (days or weeks, NOT months) gives you a better chance of improving your score.
  • Work on more difficult topics in ALEKS PPL. Reviewing easy topics will not help your score.
  • The more topics you master, the higher your likelihood of improving your placement score. Learning approximately 70 topics on your ALEKS PPL Pie correlates to the highest likelihood of improving your placement score to the next level.
  • Set a realistic and specific goal for yourself such as “I am going to aim for 70 topics and learn 7 per day over the next 10 days.”
  • Be realistic. Don’t be tempted to inflate your score – you are unlikely to be successful in a mathematics course if you don’t have the prerequisite skills!

Note: Because the ALEKS PPL is web-based (not on a WCU system), you may see 'in progress' for this task in your MyWCU portal even if you have completed the assessment. It is OK if this does not change - if you see your ALEKS score, this task is complete, even if the status does not update in your portal.

I improved my PPL score. How do I change my schedule?

If you are a first year student:

  • Log into myWCU
  • In myWCU, find the “Request to Change First Semester Schedule” form under Useful Links in the Academic Information section.
  • Complete and submit the “Request to Change First Semester Schedule” form.

If you are a returning, transfer, or non-degree student, you can add or drop courses through your myWCU account. Please allow up to 24 hours for your new score to load to the registrar's system. IMPORTANT: changes to your mathematics courses should be made in consultation with an academic advisor.

The PPL math assessment is only used to place students in an initial mathematics course.  It cannot be used to improve your placement after you have taken  a mathematics course at WCU.

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