ALEKS Math Resources

What is ALEKS?

The University of Notre Dame is using ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment to identify readiness for mathematics courses and to help students gain necessary skills before taking Calculus. We are not using ALEKS PPL for placement into courses in the way that other universities do. 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 to see if they are more prepared.

ALEKS consists of three parts:

  1. An Initial Placement Assessment
  2. The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review
  3. Access to 4 additional Placement Assessments

The University of Notre Dame 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?

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. After taking the placement test you will be directed to a prep and learning module in ALEKS where you can work on the topics that need review. 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 does not get the help they need before taking Calculus. 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 so that he/she will be successful in mathematics courses.



Why must I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? The Placement Assessment is used to determine what areas of mathematics you need to work on before taking Calculus. Upon completion of the Placement Assessments, your scores are sent to your academic advisor and the mathematics department to assist in any advising you need leading up to and during the fall semester.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS PPL? No, The University of Notre Dame is offering this service to any students taking Calculus in the 21-22 academic year who are identified as needing some help refreshing math topics.

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.

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 Notre Dame. It is designed to identify what topics you might need help reviewing. 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.

Taking the Placement Assessment

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.

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? No, you are free to complete the Placement Assessment at your own pace. The system will allow you to access your Placement Assessment for 48 hours. If you need to exit the Placement Assessment for any reason, you will be able to log back in and pick up where you left off.


What happens if I do not complete a Placement Assessment in the allotted time? If the Placement Assessment is unproctored, you will have to restart the Placement Assessment. If the incomplete Placement Assessment is proctored and timed, you will be given a placement result, but it will not be a true reflection of your abilities.


Placement Results

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.  Based on your score, a learning and prep module will be recommended to you. These learning and prep modules are resources to help make sure that you will be successful in your fall math course. Our general advice is the following:

  • If you scored below 60, you should work through the learning and prep module recommended to you by ALEKS.
  • If you scored between 60 and 79, and you are planning on taking MATH 10250 then you should be fine but it is also recommended to work through the learning and prep modules assigned to you to improve your grade in 10250.
  • If you scored between 60 and 79 and you are planning on taking MATH 10350 or MATH 10550, you should work through the learning and prep module recommended to you by ALEKS.
  • If you scored above an 80, you are ready for any of our first semester Calculus courses but working through the learning and prep modules recommended to you will most likely improve your grade.


Where can I see my score?

  • You will receive your score immediately upon completion of your Placement Assessment.
  • Your ALEKS score can be viewed by re-entering ALEKS using the same access link for which you took the Placement Assessment.

Which math course is required for my program? Generally speaking College of Engineering and most College of Science students are required to take the Math 10550/10560/20550 sequence or above.  ACMS majors would replace Math 20550 with ACMS 20550.  Chemistry students would not take the 20550.  Life Sciences students and Economics students would take the Math 10350/10360 sequence or above.  Mendoza College of Business students are required to take Math 10250 or above.   


What if my placement results say I’m ready for the class I need to take? 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? 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 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 12 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 a 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. 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 5 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.


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 or Professor Mapes (

Technical Support

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? ;