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Information and Resources for the Math Placement Assessement

Who Takes the Math Placement Assessment?

All entering students, first-year and transfer, must take the Math Placement Assessment regardless of any math courses you are transferring into Ithaca College.  The Math Placement Assessment must be taken before a student starts their first semester at Ithaca College.  If there are any issues or questions then contact the math chair at mathchair@ithaca.edu.

How do you Take the Math Placement Assessment?

Go here (available starting June 1, 2022) to take the assessment. Use your Ithaca College username and password to login.  Once there simply follow the steps. It is expected that students do not use any resources beyond the calculator provided by ALEKS.  Cheating on the math assessment will harm only you. You will have four hours to complete the assessment. 

How Can You Improve Your Score?

Students may retake the math placement assessment in the ALEKS system up to five times. Before each retake of the math placement assessment you will have to complete at least five hours of ALEKS modules and wait 24 hours. You may complete these modules on your own schedule and retake the assessment when you are ready. Math 10100, Math Boost, is offered regularly for student that want some structure and extra support in trying to improve their assessment result.  Students may also use the math support center to get help with questions in ALEKS.

What does the ALEKS score mean?

Based on the results of the assessment, students are initially assigned to one of the four placement groups. This determines where they can enter the mathematics curriculum. You can see your math placement score in the ALEKS system and in your degree worksheet at degreeworks.ithaca.edu. Students can move from one group to another as follows:

Score 0-45 Group 4: The student may complete ALEKS modules and retake the exam to improve their placement. Math 10100, Math Boost, is offered to help students in retaking the placement. 

Score 46-53 Group 3: The student may take mathematics courses MATH 10400, MATH 10500, MATH 10800,  MATH 15500, and MATH 16400. Completion of MATH 10400 or MATH 10800 with a C- or better qualifies the student to take courses with a group 2 prerequisite. Completion of Math 10800, Applied Calculus, with a B- or better allows student to take Math 11200, Calculus 2. Math 10800, Applied Calculus, provides entry to the math major, math minor, or data science minor.

Score 54-75 Group 2: The student may take MATH 10800, MATH 14400, MATH 14500, and MATH 16100 as well as any course that a group 3 student may take. Students are encouraged to take one of the courses listed here. Completion of Math 10800, Applied Calculus, with a B- or better allows student to take Math 11200, Calculus 2. Math 10800, Applied Calculus, provides entry to the math major, math minor, or data science minor.

Score 76-87 Group 1: The student may take any course in the mathematics offerings provided the course prerequisites are met. Students in group 1 are encouraged to take courses with group 1 or group 2 prerequisites. These students are recommended to take Calculus I or Applied Calculus and to consider a minor in mathematics or data science or a mathematics major.

Score 88-100 Group 1*: Students with this placement demonstrated very strong mathematical skills and can take the same math courses as in group 1.  These students are recommended to take Calculus I or Applied Calculus and to consider a minor in mathematics or data science or a mathematics major.

ALEKS FAQ

Do I need to install any software or plug-ins prior to taking the ALEKS Placement Assessment? No. 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 your Placement Assessment.  For a list of preferred browsers, please review the ALEKS system requirements on their support site: http://www.aleks.com/support/system_requirements

What topics are covered during the ALEKS PPL Assessment? ALEKS PPL 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 Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your placement.

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.

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. You should not receive assistance from friends, family, other websites, textbooks, or any other resource not provided by ALEKS. Using outside resources will lead to improper placement and potentially course failure. It is a violation of the institution’s honor code.

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. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the Placement Assessment, it only helps ALEKS understand what you know and don’t know. 

Are Placement Assessments timed? Yes, you have 4 hours to complete a Placement Assessment once it has begun, but that should be more than enough time so that there is no time stress.

What happens if I do not complete a Placement Assessment in the allotted time?  You will have to restart the Placement Assessment.