ALEKS Most Asked Questions
ALEKS is an online math placement and learning program that Western uses to assess student readiness for math and math dependent courses. This video on the ALEKS website explains how the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (also known as ALEKS Placement Preparation and Learning) works.
You must take both ALEKS MPA #1 (un-proctored/practice) and MPA #2 (proctored/official). Your first ALEKS score will not count for math placement at Western; we treat MPA #1 as a practice test for our students. The scores for MPA #2 (or highest of scores from MPA 2, 3, or 4 if you should decide to reassess) will count as official for math placement and registration purposes.
The computer requirements for taking the practice assessment (MPA#1) are pretty straight-forward, but you will need access to high-speed internet. Review the system requirements for MPA#1
The requirements for the proctored/official assessment (MPA#2) are more rigorous but you can verify that you meet the following minimum requirements with a quick test.
- Operating System: Windows 7,8,9 ; Mac OSX 10.9 and higher
- Browser: Google Chrome (minimum version 56)
- Internet:Speed: 1.5 Mbps download, 750 Kbps upload
- Web Camera and Microphone
If access to the above is problematic, then please contact our Testing Center via e-mail: Testing.Center@wwu.edu or phone (360) 650-3080 to see if you can wait till you get to campus to fulfill this requirement.
ALEKS scores can be transferred from another institution by logging into your ALEKS account, clicking on the three vertical dots located to the right of cohort in the “My Classes” section, and selecting the “send results” drop down option in the “My Classes” section. Search by the college code: 2ECD42 or Western Washington University.
If the other institution does not allow automatic transfers through ALEKS, you must provide a printed copy of your scores from ALEKS and bring the report to the Registrar’s Office (Old Main 230). Please make sure your score report shows your full name and remember to write your Western ID# on the report.
Please note: Western Washington University will only transfer in proctored exams taken within the past five years.
ALEKS is not a multiple-choice test. It is open-response and requires you to work out solutions with a paper and pencil, then enter them into ALEKS. Be sure to have scratch paper with you.
ALEKS is an online, 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 your institution. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take your first Practice Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your official placement score. You must take the MPA a second time in order to place into an appropriate course.
- 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).
Your first assessment is a Practice Assessment (MPA#1), that will not count as an official score. ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial to make sure you are comfortable with the online math 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 input tools. Going to the tutorial during your Placement Assessment will NOT impact your Placement Assessment results.
No. ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator, if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator. Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – the result could be that you are placed into a class that is too difficult for your current level of mathematical knowledge, with a high potential for failure. Therefore, while you are taking the assessment, do not consult any other source for help (friends, family, internet searches, etc.). The purpose of the placement assessment is to give an accurate measure of your current mathematical skills so that you will be successful in your mathematics courses.
Allow 24 hours for your ALEKS score to be loaded into the system after completing ALEKS. Remember that Assessment #1 does not count for purposes of registration. The day after you have completed Assessment #2 you should be able to register for any math course for which you qualify – within your scheduled registration timeframe.
You will be able to see your ALEKS placement score immediately after you finish the MPA.
The math course you take usually depends on your intended major. You should consult the WWU catalog to see what math course is required for your intended program of study. Once you determine the course you need, visit the ALEKS Placement Scores page to see what ALEKS score is necessary to register for that course.
You should first try to work through the Prep and Learning modules to improve your MPA score. If you have already done that, you should take the course for which you qualify. There is no other way to get into the course for which you wish to qualify other than having met the course prerequisite.
ALEKS access is valid for one year from the initial practice assessment. The cost to register again after the initial enrollment has expired is $40.
ALEKS results can be transferred to another institution if the receiving institution will accept automatic transfers through ALEKS. Students log into their ALEKS account, click on the three vertical dots located to the right of cohort in the “My Classes” section, and select the “send results” drop down option in the “My Classes” section. The college code and institution should appear if the institution has accepted to receive automatic transfers.
Most students, including transfer students, who plan to register for a course at Western that has a mathematics prerequisite must first take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) twice.
The MPA serves as a prerequisite for math courses, but also serves as a prerequisite for some courses in other departments such as Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Sciences and Studies, Geology, Physics and Science Education. Taking the MPA may save students both time and money.
Students may take the MPA any time after they activate their Universal Account. It is recommended that students take the MPA early, so as to allow time to work through the preparation and learning modules and to retake the MPA to improve their score. Students should complete the MPA at least two weeks before attending a new student orientation program – if they plan to register for a math course during their first quarter of study. Please be aware that failure to take both MPA #1 (practice) and MPA #2 (proctored/official) before orientation will delay registration for a math course or other courses that require a math prerequisite, such as Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Physics and Science Education.
ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) MPA is an adaptive assessment instrument covering material from Basic Math through Precalculus. ALEKS is designed to determine a student’s knowledge base in mathematics. Each Assessment has 30 questions and will take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete, and you will need to take a minimum of two assessments. While each MPA takes only 60-90 minutes to complete, the system will allow access for three (3) hours once each assessment is started, so no need to panic if you should have internet connectivity issues. Note that the proctored assessment #2 (not #1) is the score that will count for math placement in registration.
Most, but not all, new students need to take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment; you will find the list of exceptions below. If after reading the list of exceptions below you are still unsure whether you meet one of the exceptions, contact the Academic Advising Center at (360) 650-3850 or the Department of Mathematics at (360) 650-3785. Please note that taking the MPA may allow you to place in a higher level course than the exceptions will allow for.
- Western will continue to allow APTP Math Placement Test scores for students who entered Western prior to Fall 2017; scores are valid for 5 years from original test date.
- The MPA is not required for entrance into Math 099 (Review Algebra – no degree credit).
- Within one year of high school graduation, students who provide evidence of meeting the college readiness standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (Level 3 or higher) may enroll in Math 107 or Math 108 without taking the placement assessment. To receive permission to register for Math 107 or Math 108 without taking the MPA, students need to bring their Smarter Balanced Mathematics Assessment Results Family Report, provided by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, to the Math Department.
- Students who earned a C- or better in a college Intermediate Algebra course within the last 5 years may register for Math 107, Math 108 or Math 112 without taking the MPA.
- Students who earned a C+ or better in a transferable college Precalculus I course are eligible for Math 157 or Math 240 without taking the MPA.
- Students who earned a C+ or better in the second/final course in a college Precalculus sequence may register for Math 124 (Calculus) without taking the MPA. Completing only the first course in such a sequence (i.e. Precalculus I) will not meet this requirement.
- The MPA is waived for students who scored a two or higher on the College Board AP Calculus Exam (AB or BC). Students who scored a two or higher and who plan to take another Math course are advised to discuss their options with a Math advisor at (360) 650-3785. Exception: Students seeking admission to Honors Math 134 MUST take the MPA.
- The MPA is waived for students who have college credit (and grade of C- or better) for a Calculus course equivalent to Math 124 (Calculus and Analytical Geometry).
- Students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Education – Elementary or Special Education and have earned a C or better in a college Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, or Precalculus course within the last five years may, after admission to Western’s Elementary or Special Education programs, register for Math 381 without taking the MPA.
- Students who have completed the ALEKS MPA at another college may be eligible to use those scores for placement here at Western. The requirements for transferring ALEKS MPA scores to Western:
- ALEKS MPA taken one or more times in a proctored setting at another school – requires verified scores.
Prep and Learning Modules FAQs
You will have 12 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 a Prep and Learning Module is included along with the additional Placement Assessments.
You can take the Placement Assessment up to four times – the practice assessment plus three additional assessments. The highest score (after the practice assessment) will be used for math placement. Students are required to work in a Prep and Learning Module for a specific amount of time prior to the third and fourth MPA to increase success.
- #1 MPA – Practice MPA
- #2 MPA – Official for placement; Prep & Learning Module advised but not required
- #3 MPA - Requires 3 hours of work in a Prep and Learning Module and 72 hour wait before attempting MPA #3.
- #4 MPA - Requires 3 additional hours of work in a Prep and Learning Module and a 96 hour wait before this final assessment is attempted.
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 Plan so you can review them again.
No. You must complete a new Placement Assessment to change your placement result. Select the placement tab in the upper right corner of the ALEKS page to start a new Placement Assessment.
No! You may only use one Prep and Learning Module. Choose carefully; if you are unsure which module to select, use the module recommended by ALEKS or consult with the Math Department.