For some students, math can be a challenging subject. Jumping back into college-level math after a lapse in time may lead to some knowledge gaps and the need for a refresher before beginning courses. Penn State offers the ALEKS math assessment to gauge students’ math skills and provide resources for those who are planning to take a math or statistics course.
At Penn State, you must take an assessment, known as the ALEKS Math Assessment, before scheduling the following courses.
- MATH 004
- MATH 021
- MATH 022
- MATH 034
- MATH 110
- STAT 200
You can also take advantage of ALEKS’s "Prep and Learning" module to refresh your knowledge and prepare yourself to succeed in your math and statistics courses.
It is recommended that students complete the ALEKS assessment prior to taking MATH 036 and MATH 017, although this is not a requirement.
How to take the Assessment and Prepare for Courses
- Academic advisers will help students determine the best time to take the assessment. You can find a link to the ALEKS assessment in your Student Center in LionPATH. To learn more about finding ALEKS, visit the Understanding LionPATH section of the LionPATH Support page and review the ALEKS Math Assessment FAQs.
- Set aside 2–3 hours to complete the ALEKS assessment.
- Contact your academic adviser after you have completed the assessment.
- Work through ALEKS's "Prep and Learning" module.
- ALEKS is designed not just for course placement, but for students to refresh their math knowledge. It is highly recommended that students complete the “Prep and Learning” module to better prepare for math courses and the time involved for study.
Retaking the Assessment
You may take the assessment up to three times total. You must wait 24 hours between attempts, and spend at least 10 hours using the learning modules before retaking the assessment the first time, and an additional 10 hours using the learning modules before taking the assessment for your third and final time.
What is ALEKS?
ALEKS is an artificial intelligence–based assessment tool that identifies your strengths and weaknesses and provides you with a learning environment for improving your knowledge.
Why do I have to take assessments?
The required assessment serves several purposes:
- Placement: The assessment results are used to determine your appropriate starting levels in mathematics courses.
- Basic Skills: The assessment results are used to identify basic mathematics areas in which you need additional preparation for college-level course work.
- Educational Planning and Academic Advising: The assessment results are a critical first step in your education plans, laying a strong foundation in mathematics.
What do I need in order to take the tests?
You will need:
- your Penn State ID number
- pens and/or pencils
- 2–3 hours of time
- a space conducive to doing your best work
Please note: You should not use your own calculator. If one is needed to answer a question, ALEKS will provide one automatically for that question.
Can anyone help me during the assessment?
No, assistance during the test is not allowed and will ultimately put you at a disadvantage by placing you into a course you are not prepared to take. You will also be in violation of Penn State's academic integrity policies.
Will the assessment results allow me to "place out of" Penn State courses?
No, the assessment results are designed to help you start off "on the right foot" in mathematics. No actual course credit for any University graduation requirement will result from taking these tests.
How can I view my ALEKS score?
Upon completion of the ALEKS assessment, you will see your placement result in a pie chart showing the extent to which skills were mastered, a link to learning modules, and a link for more information.
How do I understand my ALEKS score?
ALEKS scores cannot be interpreted in the same way as exam grades. Scores of 30 or higher reflect adequate preparation for college-level math. You can also view additional information for understanding your ALEKS score.
What if I need special accommodations?
Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodations, please visit our Students with Disabilities page.