Math Placement Exam
Like most uniersities, the University of Maine requires students to take a math placement exam to determine which math courses line up best with your math skills. If you have scored a 670 on the math portion of the SAT, or a 29 on the math portion of the ACT, then you can be enrolled in any math class up to MAT 126 (Calculus I); effective Spring 2021, all other students must take the ALEKS PPL assessment mathematics placement exam.
ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PLL) Assessment
What Is ALEKS?
The University of Maine requires an ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment to determine 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 up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete. After the Placement Assessment, an individualized Prep and Learning Module is available for students to refresh their knowledge on forgotten topics. Students then have the opportunity to reassess and improve their placement.
ALEKS consists of three parts:
- An Initial Placement Assessment
- The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review
- Access to up to four additional Placement Assessments
The University of Maine encourages each student to spend time in the Prep and Learning Module, even if the desired score is achieved, because time spent in ALEKS will ultimately lead to better preparation and improved grades.
What is the Purpose of Placement Testing
The Placement Assessment results will be used to determine the most appropriate courses for each student as they move forward with college coursework. After taking a Placement Assessment, students should meet with their advisor to review their results and enroll in the best classes based on their scores.
This is a “Placement Assessment,” not a test. The difference is that a Placement Assessment is designed to determine what a student knows and what a student needs to work on. At the end of the ALEKS PPL Assessment, a student will have a much better sense of his/her strengths and weaknesses in math. Students then have a chance to brush on topics that may have been forgotten or haven’t been practiced for some time.
Be honest. It is important that the Placement Assessment is taken seriously and each student gives it an honest effort so that the Placement Assessment truly reflects their current level of knowledge and math preparedness. There is no benefit to cheating on the Placement Assessment – the only result will be that a student enrolls in a class that is too difficult, or not challenging enough, potentially costing time and money. Therefore, while taking the Placement Assessment, students should not consult any outside sources for help (friends/family, internet searches, textbooks, notes etc…). The purpose of the Placement Assessment is to give an accurate measure of a student’s current mathematical knowledge state so that he/she will be successful in mathematics courses. For more information on intellectual honesty, students may also consult the University of Maine Student Conduct Code.
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 Assessments, your scores are sent to the Advising and Academic Services Center at the University of Maine, where they will be reviewed to help make appropriate recommendations for course registration.
Who has to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?
All matriculating students at the University of Maine who wish to take any of the courses listed below are required to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment. The University of Maine strongly encourages all incoming students to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment.
Continuing students who need to meet course prerequisites in order to register for a math course may also be required to complete the ALEKS Placement Assessment before they are eligible to register.
Do I still need to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment if I’m taking AP calculus?
Students who score 3 or more on AP calculus will receive credit for MAT 126, and therefore do not need to take the exam. However, many students who are not confident about their understanding of calculus choose to take MAT 126 regardless, and students who register before AP scores are in will need to take the exam.
When do I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?
The ALEKS PPL Assessment is available to students once they have committed to the University of Maine, paid their deposit, and activated their UMS ID and password. (Note that it may take up to 24 hours after receiving your UMS ID and password before you will have access to the ALEKS PPL Assessment).
When you take the ALEKS PPL Assessment is up to you; however, you will need to take the Assessment before you can be placed in a Mathematics course at the University of Maine. We encourage new UMaine students to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment as soon as they are comfortable doing so in order to take advantage of knowledge that may be fresh in their minds from high school or preparatory classes.
I took the University of Maine’s old Math Placement Exam. Are the results still valid?
Students who have already written the University of Maine’s previous Math Placement Exam may use their scores for placement.
Are ALEKS PPL Assessments proctored?
ALEKS PPL Assessments are not proctored; ALEKS instead uses the Respondus Lock-down Browser during the administration of the assessment. Be aware that before you enter into the assessment, ALEKS will take you through the process of downloading and installing the lock-down browser on the computer you will be using. It is important that this computer has the necessary permissions that will permit you to download and install Respondus. Note that the Respondus Lock-down Browser is not compatible with Chromebook.
Is there a fee for using ALEKS?
Students will be billed $25 for using the ALEKS Placement Assessment. This fee appears on their student account, viewable in MaineStreet, as a Math Placement Exam fee. This small fee covers five possible attempts as well as access to one Prep and Learning Module. In the event that you need to access an additional Prep and Learning Module, please reach out to your advisor.
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 the University of Maine. 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.
- 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 system 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.
Who should I contact if I require a disability accommodation to complete the ALEKS Placement Assessment?
If a student requires additional accommodations such as the use of a screen reader, please contact University of Maine Student Accessibility Services.
Taking the Placement Exam
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, calculators are not permitted during the Placement Assessment.
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 University of Maine’s Student Conduct 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?
The ALEKS Placement Assessment is not timed. Most students take 60-90 minutes to complete the ALEKS Placement Assessment.
What happens if I do not complete a Placement Assessment in the allotted time?
You will be given a placement result, but it will not be a true reflection of your abilities.
I am ready to start my ALEKS PPL Assessment. How do I begin?
ALEKS uses the Respondus Lock-down Browser during the administration of the assessment. Before you enter into the assessment, ALEKS will guide you through the process of downloading and installing the lock-down browser on the computer you will be using. It is important that this computer has the necessary permissions that will permit you to download and install Respondus. Note that the Respondus Lock-down Browser is not compatible with Chromebook.
What is my placement result?
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 at the University of Maine is determined as follows:
|Your placement score indicates your math skills need review. Please work through the ALEKS learning modules and retake the assessment to improve your score.||<30|
|MAT 111: Algebra for College Mathematics||30 or higher|
MAT 116: Introduction to Calculus
MAT 122: Pre-Calculus
|61 or higher|
|MAT 126: Calculus I||76 or higher|
Once you have finished the ALEKS Placement Assessment, your score will be automatically uploaded to your student record. Once the score is uploaded, you will be eligible to register for math courses as indicated in the placement guide. You can check to see that your placement results have been uploaded by logging in to MaineStreet and viewing your Placement Test Scores in the Student Menu.
If you are not satisfied with your placement, you can retake the assessment. It is highly recommended to use the Prep and Learning modules in between each attempt to prepare. See Improving Your Score for more information.
Where can I see my score?
You will receive your score immediately upon completion of your Placement Assessment. Your ALEKS score can also be viewed by re-entering ALEKS using the same access link for which you took the Placement Assessment. Scores will also be available through your MaineStreet account.
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.
Students can select the study module that corresponds to the course they would like to be placed into. Each module includes some review of earlier material but the emphasis is different depending on the module selected.
Students who want to work toward enrolment into MAT 111 should use the Prep for Intermediate Algebra module. For MAT 116 and MAT 122, students should use the Prep for PreCalculus / Business Calculus module. For MAT 126, students should use the Prep for Calculus I module.
Which math course is required for my program?
Course requirements vary by program. To determine what math courses you will need to take for your program of study, consult with your advisor or the UMaine Course Catalog.
What if I placed into the class I wanted?
Congratulations! Continue to use your Prep and Learning Module to improve your chances for success. The placement result required is the minimum preparation for your course. Take advantage of the individualized review and learning features in ALEKS to get a better grade in your class.
Can I retake the ALEKS PPL Assessment?
Students who are not satisfied with their course placement have the opportunity to retake the assessment. You may take up to five Placement Assessments. 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.
Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?
You must wait 48 hours 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.
Prep and Learning Modules
How long do I have access to my Prep and Learning Module?
You will have six 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 one Prep and Learning Module is included along with the additional Placement Assessments.
Must I work in my ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between Placement Assessments?
You can retake the Placement Assessment up to four additional times to improve your score. (The highest score 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—required to complete 8 additional hours of work in the Prep and Learning Modules before attempting assessment.
Note that after the third attempt on the Placement Assessment, students may need to contact their faculty advisor or the UMaine Advising and Academic Services Center to be granted access to a fourth and fifth attempt.
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.
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.
Can I change to a different Prep and Learning Module later?
No. You may only use one Prep and Learning Module. If you are unsure which module to select, use the module recommended by ALEKS or consult with your advisor.
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?
For questions about ALEKS, visit https://www.aleks.com/support/troubleshooting, https://mhedu.force.com/aleks/s/alekscontactsupport, or http://support.aleks.com/assess_placement.
Where can I get help with billing questions?
For billing questions related to the ALEKS PPL Placement Assessment, contact the University of Maine Bursar’s Office.