Integral Domain Mathematics at Mercyhurst University
Mercyhurst University
Department of Mathematics

ALEKS Math Assessment: Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to take the Math Placement Assessment?

Mercyhurst University requires an ALEKS mathematics placement assessment to determine readiness for various courses. The ALEKS Placement Assessment covers material from basic mathematics through precalculus and will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

At the end of the ALEKS Placement Assessment, you will have a much better sense of your strengths and weaknesses in math. You will then have a chance to work on those weaknesses through a targeted Prep and Learning Module geared to your goals to improve placement and eventual course outcomes.

You are strongly encouraged to spend several hours using the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module after your first assessment. Even if you have achieved placement in your desired course, time spent in ALEKS will better prepare you for your upcoming course and ultimately lead to better grades. 

It is important that you relax and that you are honest about your skill level.  This is simply an assessment, not a test. The difference is that an assessment is designed to determine what you know in order to best serve your academic success at Mercyhurst University.

There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – your only reward will be that you are placed into a class that is too difficult for your current level of mathematical knowledge. Therefore, while you are taking the assessment, do not consult any other source for help. Remember, you not only want to get into the right course, you want to be very successful in that course.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS?

ALEKS is free for incoming students and current freshmen.

After April of your freshmen year, there is a $25 fee (plus tax) to take the assessment. This fee includes 5 attempts at the placement assessment, as well as 6 months of personalized remediation if you need to improve your score.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

Yes, you may take up to 5 placement assessments. However, to make each attempt worthwhile, it is important that you spend time working in your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module in between placement assessments so that you can improve your skills. Only the highest ALEKS score is used for placement.

Are ALEKS Placement Assessments proctored?

For incoming students you are on your honor to take the assessment without assistance. You will have access to ALEKS through the Orientation Portal until the first day of classes.

After the first day of your freshmen year, you will need to schedule an appointment to take the assessment with a proctor.

May I use a calculator while using ALEKS?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem.  You may also use a single-line calculator.  No graphing or two-line calculators can be used. It is strongly recommended that you do not use a calculator while taking the assessment to ensure the most accurate score.

May I use any other resources during a placement assessment?

You may only use a pen or pencil, paper, and the resources provided by ALEKS. You may 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 ultimately course failure.  Remember, your goal is to be successful in your first math course.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?

You must wait 24 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.

After your second attempt, you will be required to spend some time using ALEK's built in remediation.

Must I work in my ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between placement assessments?

  • 2nd attempt: Before taking your 2nd placement assessment, you must wait 24 hours.
  • 3rd - 5th attempts: Before taking your 3rd - 5th placement assessments, you must wait 24 hours and spend 3 hours in a Prep and Learning Module.

Are placement assessments timed?

Yes, you have 48 hours to complete a placement assessment once it has begun.  You can take a break, however, if you wait more than 48 hours you have to start a new assessment and it will not count as one of your five attempts.

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 set aside two hours.  There will be a maximum of 30 questions.

What is my placement result?

Your placement result is your percentage mastery on your best assessment.

Can I practice using ALEKS before I begin placement?

ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial before your placement begins.

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

You will have six months of access from the time that you start using your Prep and Learning module.

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

Access to a Prep and Learning Module is included along with up to 5 placement assessments.

What are ALEKS Progress Assessments?

While working in a Prep and Learning Module, you will periodically complete progress assessments to solidify your gains in knowledge.

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.

What if I do not place into the course I wanted?

You can use a Prep and Learning Module to review and learn, and you may take another placement assessment to improve your placement result.

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

No, you must achieve the minimum placement result to take each corresponding class.

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 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?