Questions about the Mathematics (ALEKS) Assessment / Placement Test

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Who has to take the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

Only students enrolling in the following classes should complete the ALEKS math skills assessment. If you will not be enrolling in one of these specific classes you should not complete ALEKS.


Course Number

Course Title

Required Minimum

APPM 1235

Precalculus for Engineers

61% or greater

APPM 1340

Calculus 1 with Algebra (Part 1 of 2 in a mandatory year-long calculus sequence)

61% or greater

APPM 1350

Calculus 1 for Engineers

76% or greater

ECON 1078

Math Tools for Economists I

46% or greater

ECON 1088

Math Tools for Economists II

61% or greater

MATH 1300

Analytic Geometry/Calculus 1

76% or greater

MATH 1310

Calculus, Stochastics & Modeling

76% or greater

MATH 1071

Finite Math for Social Science and Business

46% or greater

MATH 1081

Calculus for Social Sciences & Business

61% or greater

MATH 1150

Precalculus Mathematics

61% or greater

PHYS 1110

General Physics 1 (Calculus-based)

76% or greater

How do I begin using ALEKS?

Please click on the following link:

Are there any options other than ALEKS that satisfy these prerequisites?

Yes, some college level courses at other institutions may meet these prerequisites and some departments may still require ALEKS regardless of AP/IB or transfer credit. If you have questions about this, consult your departmental academic advisor about your specific situation.

Who should I contact if I have a disability that prevents/impairs my taking the ALEKS placement assessment?

If you need disability accommodations, please contact Marshall Smith (303-492-9031) or and we will assist you in making appropriate arrangements.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS?

The University of Colorado Boulder pays for the use of ALEKS.

What if I did not earn the minimum score required for the course that I wanted?

You are encouraged to use the appropriate ALEKS Prep and Learning Module (an intelligent, online tutorial part of the ALEKS program) to review, learn, and then retake the assessment. After at least 48 hours has passed from your first placement assessment and you have worked on the Prep and Learning Modules for at least 5 hours before the system will allow you to retake an ALEKS assessment. Access to additional assessments and the tutorial function is available for six months after you complete your first ALEKS assessment.

I did not place into the class I wanted. Can I take it anyway?

No, you must achieve the minimum ALEKS score required for each class. Our analysis of past data shows that students who do not earn the minimum ALEKS score are much more likely to earn a D or F in these classes in comparison to those that do earn the minimum score. It is in your best interest to choose a class for which you are prepared to succeed. ALEKS is designed to be helpful to you and your education experience here at CU Boulder!

Can I retake the ALEKS placement assessment?

Yes, you may retake the ALEKS assessment 2 additional times. In total, including the initial assessment, you have 3 opportunities. Access to additional assessments as well as the tutorial function is available for six months after you complete your first ALEKS assessment.

What if I don't have time right now to work on improving my score?

After the initial assessment you have six months of access the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module as well as the opportunity to retake the assessment. You can utilize the preparation and learning components as much as you like during this time. However, to make each attempt at the placement assessment worthwhile, it is important that you spend time working in your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module in between placement assessments. You will need to improve your math knowledge in order to earn higher scores on subsequent assessment attempts.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?

You must wait 48 hours and you must work on the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module for at least 5 hours between placement assessments. There is generally no benefit to re-taking the assessment immediately after completing a prior attempt. Unlike the SAT or ACT, you cannot improve your results by simply re-taking the assessment without spending time in the Prep and Learning Module to refresh material that you may have forgotten or to learn new material.

Are placement assessments timed?

Once you begin an ALEKS assessment you have one week to complete it. You do not need to complete the entire assessment in one sitting. You have the option to pause and return to the assessment as you wish during that week. After you've completed the first assessment you have six months of access to the Prep and Learning training modules if you'd like to try to improve your score. You may also retake the assessment twice during this time period.

How long will a placement assessment take to complete?

Placement assessments require approximately 90 minutes to complete, but the amount of time will vary by student. We suggest you budget 2 hours to complete the process. There will be a maximum of 30 questions.

May I use a calculator while using ALEKS?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator for particular problems if one is necessary. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator.

May I ask for help when completing a placement assessment?

In order to get an accurate assessment of your math skills, you must NOT use books, search engines or other websites, a calculator, or consult with anyone else when completing ALEKS. Using help to artificially improve your score is likely to result in your enrolling in a class you will not pass. The ALEKS assessment aims only to be helpful for you. It only works if you follow these guidelines.

What is my assessment result?

Your placement result is your percentage mastery on the best assessment. Course placement is based on the course-by-course chart available here.

How long is my assessment result valid?

Your ALEKS assessment will remain valid for three years.

Can I practice using ALEKS before I begin placement?

ALEKS will have you complete a brief tutorial before your placement assessment begins so you are familiar with how the system works.

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

You have access to the Prep and Learning module for six months after you complete your first assessment.

Is there an additional fee for my Prep and Learning Module?

No, access to a Prep and Learning Module is included along with up to 3 placement assessments. This is paid for by the University of Colorado Boulder.

What are ALEKS Progress Assessments?

While working in a Prep and Learning Module, you will periodically complete progress assessments to measure and solidify your gains in knowledge. These are different than the full version of the ALEKS assessment.

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. Click on the placement tab on the upper right of the page from within ALEKS. Only your placement assessment results will be used for course placement.

Can I change to a different Prep and Learning Module later?

No, you may only use one Prep and Learning Module at a time. If you are unsure which module to select, use the module recommended by ALEKS.

What if I placed into the class I wanted?

Congratulations! You may continue to use your Prep and Learning Module to improve your preparedness for the course. The placement result above is the minimum preparation required for your course! Take advantage of the targeted review and learning features in ALEKS to get a better grade in your class.

Where can I get help with ALEKS?
Please email Dr. Marshall Smith ( if you need help from CU that this FAQ page does not address.

What if I took the ALEKS assessment before February 15th, 2014?

Please consult with your departmental academic advisor to discuss your options.

Where can faculty or staff members find more information about the ALEKS assessment?

An overview of how to view ALEKS scores in ISIS is available here.

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