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Physical Address:
Brink Hall 300

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 1103
Moscow, ID 83844-1103

Phone: 208-885-6742

Fax: 208-885-5843


Web: Department of Mathematics and Statistical Science

ALEKS PPL Placement Test

The University of Idaho offers ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment as an alternative means of determining readiness for mathematics courses. ALEKS PPL is a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The Placement Assessment is designed to determine what you know and what you need to work on. It covers Basic Math through Pre-Calculus and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete. After the Placement Assessment, an individualized Prep and Learning Module is generated that allows you to brush up on topics that may have been forgotten or haven’t been practiced for some time. This will give you a good sense of your strengths and weaknesses in math. You are then provided with up to 4 additional Placement Assessments should you need or want to improve your placement.

It is important that you not consult any outside sources for help (friends/family, internet searches, textbooks, notes etc...) while taking the Placement Assessment and that you give it your best effort. Getting help or not doing your best will only result in being placed in a class that is too difficult, or not challenging enough, potentially costing time and money. 

You will pay for ALEKS with a credit card when you create your account. The fee is $20 and allows access to ALEKS PPL learning assistance and placement testing for 12 months. Note that this does not include the fee for proctoring that is required for the assessment that you will use for placement.

Who should take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? All students who wish to take any math course up through Math 176 should consider taking ALEKS PPL. However, it is only required if you want to take a course for which you have not met the prerequisites or that your current placement does not allow (see chart above).

When should I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? To gain the most benefit from ALEKS PPL, you should give yourself time after taking the initial Placement to use the preparation and learning module to refresh your skills. When you are ready, you can take an assessment to check your progress. If you have mastered the concepts and techniques needed to place within the class you are striving for, you would then schedule an appointment at the Testing Center (TC) or other approved testing site to have your placement exam proctored. In order to use a score for placement it must be proctored. While this whole process can be completed in a relatively short time, ideally you will allow a semester or more to fully benefit from ALEKS PPL.

Where can I take my proctored Placement Assessment?

  • The assessment that you wish to use for placement purposes must be taken in a certified testing center.
    • The U of I Testing Center is a certified testing center for ALEKS PPL.
    • For a list of other certified testing centers throughout the United States, please visit the NCTA website.
  • To make an appointment to take your proctored placement test at U of I, please visit the Testing Center website. There is a fee of $15 for this service.

What can I do if I cannot get to a certified testing center? You can take the ALEKS assessment online. Once you have a score, you can submit that to the Department of Mathematics and Statistical Science to use for provisional math placement. As soon as you arrive in Moscow, you will need to re-take the ALEKS assessment at the U of I Testing Center to receive a certified score. This score will be used to verify your correct math placement. If you do not take the ALEKS assessment at the certified U of I center by 8 a.m. on the last working day before classes begin, you will be removed from the math course you were provisionally given permission for.

What topics are covered during the ALEKS PPL Assessment? ALEKS PPL is an online, adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. It is a Placement Assessment, not a preview of math courses at the University of Idaho. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take your first Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your placement. Topics covered include:

  • 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)

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. Be sure to have scratch paper with you.

May I use a calculator while using ALEKS? ALEKS will provide 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 Placement Assessment? You may only use a pen or pencil, paper, and the resources provided within ALEKS. Using outside resources will lead to improper placement and potentially course failure.

Can I review a question after I've answered it? 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 Placement Assessment results.

Are Placement Assessments timed?  The system will allow you to access your Placement Assessment for 24 hours. If you need to exit the Placement Assessment for any reason, you will be able to log back in and pick up where you left off. If you exceed 24 hours you will need to start over. Your proctored placement assessment will have a time limit of 2 hours.

I am ready to start my ALEKS PPL Assessment. How do I begin? In order to start using ALEKS PPL go to Scroll down a bit to the section “To Schedule an Appointment” and follow the steps to use ALEKS. You will be asked for your U of I username and password and credit card information to cover the $20 cost of registering and purchasing access to ALEKS PPL.

What does my placement score mean? Your placement result (overall score) is a number between 0 and 100. It represents the percentage of topics ALEKS has identified you have mastered.

Course placement is determined as follows:  

Cut Score:  Any

Carries no credit after Math 143. Review of algebra including factoring, rational expressions, exponents, radicals, quadratic equations, equations of lines. Taught using the Polya Math Center, a studio environment featuring group study, one-to-one interaction with instructors, computer-mediated modules, and lectures. Does not satisfy general education requirement.

Cut Score:  Any

Discussion of some aspects of mathematical thought through the study of problems taken from areas such as logic, political science, management science, geometry, probability, and combinatorics; discussion of historical development and topics discovered in the past 100 years.

Cut Score:  42+

Systems of linear equations and inequalities, matrices, linear programming, and probability. C or better in Math 108.

Cut Score:  46+

Carries no credit after Math 160 or 170. Algebraic, exponential, logarithmic functions; graphs of conics; zeros of polynomials; systems of equations, induction. Taught using the Polya Math Center, a studio environment featuring group study, one-to-one interaction with instructors, computer-mediated modules, and lectures. Math 108 with grade of C or better. It is recommended that Math 143 be taken within two years of passing Math 108 or its equivalent.

Cut Score:  46+

Not open for credit to students who have previous high school or college credit in trigonometry. Trigonometric functions, inverse functions, applications. Taught using the Polya Math Center, a studio environment featuring group study, one-to-one interaction with instructors, computer-mediated modules, and lectures. Prereq:  Students may qualify by enrolling concurrently in Math 143 or Math 170. 

Cut Score:  61+

Carries no credit after Math 170. Functions, graphing, derivative, integral, exponential and logarithmic functions, functions of several variables. Primarily for students in business, life sciences or architecture who need only one semester of calculus. Prereq: Math 143 with a C or better. 

Cut Score:  76+

Carries 2 credits after Math 160. Functions, limits, continuity, differentiation, integration, applications, differentiation and integration of transcendental functions. Primarily for students in engineering, mathematics, science or computer science. Prereq: Math 143 (with a grade of C or better) and Math 144 (concurrent enrollment in Math 144 is allowed although it is recommended that students complete Math 144 before enrolling in Math 170)

NOTE: Students registering for Chemistry 111 may meet the prerequisite by scoring a 46 or higher on the ALEKS exam.  

Where can I see my score?

  • You will receive your score immediately upon completion of your Placement Assessment.
  • Your ALEKS score can be viewed by re-entering ALEKS using your account.
  • Your score will also be added to your student record by the Registrar’s Office if it was taken in an approved testing location.

How long is my placement result valid? Your placement result is valid for up to 12 months.

What if I do not place into the course I wanted? This is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Prep and Learning Modules offered within ALEKS PPL. An individualized study plan will be created based on your performance on the Initial Placement Assessment. ALEKS will identify what you know and what you are ready to learn next so you can brush up on lost knowledge.

Can I retake the ALEKS PPL Assessment? Yes, you may take up to 5 Placement Assessments total. However, to make each attempt worthwhile, it is important that you spend time working in your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between Placement Assessments so that you can improve your skills. You are required to spend at least 3 hours in your Prep and Learning Module after your first placement test (not your initial evaluation) before you will be allowed to take it again.  There are also minimum requirements for time spent in the learning modules before taking your third, fourth and fifth placement exams. Remember, in order for a placement exam to count, it must be taken in an approved proctored environment.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately? 
You must wait 48 hours and spend the requisite time in the prep and learning modules between Placement Assessments. There is generally no benefit to re-taking the Placement Assessment immediately after completing a prior attempt. You cannot improve your results by simply re-taking the Placement Assessment without spending time in the Prep and Learning Module to refresh material that you may have forgotten.

Must I work in my ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between Placement Assessments? Yes.  You will be required to complete a specified amount of time in Prep and Learning before you will be able to take another placement test. You can retake the Placement assessment up to four additional times to improve your score. (The highest score from an approve proctored location will be used for math placement). Students are required to work in the Prep and Learning Modules for a specific amount of time prior to each Placement Assessment to increase success.**

  • 2nd attempt—required to complete 3 hours of work in the Prep and Learning Modules before attempting assessment.
  • 3rd attempt—required to complete 3 additional hours of work in the Prep and Learning Modules before attempting assessment.
  • 4th attempt—required to complete 5 additional hours of work in the Prep and Learning Modules before attempting assessment.
  • 5th attempt—this attempt must be proctored and there is no additional time in the Prep and Learning Modules required

**If you take a placement test at home and like the result, you can schedule your proctored placement test at the TC and the proctor will be able to override these requirements.

How long do I have access to my Prep and Learning Module? 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.

Is there an additional fee for my Prep and Learning Module? Access to a Prep and Learning Module is included along with the additional Placement Assessments.

Does progress in an ALEKS Prep and Learning Module count toward placement? 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.

Will I earn college credit for the classes below my placement? No. Getting a high enough score on the test may waive prerequisites for Math or Chemistry courses, but no credit will be received for taking the test.

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. 

Can I change to a different Prep and Learning Module later? Yes. You may switch to a different Prep and Learning Module if that is what you wish. If you are unsure which module to select, use the module recommended by ALEKS or consult with your advisor.

Technical Support

What do I do if my web browser gets stuck or my computer crashes while I'm taking the Placement Assessment? Simply close the browser, or log out and log back in. ALEKS will resume the Placement Assessment exactly where you left off, with no loss of your previous answers.

Where can I get help with ALEKS?

To make an appointment to take your proctored placement test, visit the Testing Center website.

To see a list of certified testing centers available throughout the United States, visit the NCTA (National College Testing Association) website.


If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Mathematics and Statistical Science at 208-885-6742.


Physical Address:
Brink Hall 300

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 1103
Moscow, ID 83844-1103

Phone: 208-885-6742

Fax: 208-885-5843


Web: Department of Mathematics and Statistical Science