Math Placement Assessment

Marquette University requires an ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment to determine readiness for any calculus course. 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:

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

Marquette University 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.

Purpose of the Math Placement Assessment

The Placement Assessment results will be used to determine the most appropriate course for each student as they move forward with college coursework.

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 up 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. We encourage you to carefully read Marquette’s academic integrity policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are responses to commonly asked questions regarding the Math Placement Assessment and ALEKS PPL.



Expand all   |   Collapse all  

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 your academic advisor. Your advisor will review your scores and help make appropriate recommendations for course registration.

Who has to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

All students admitted to:

    • College of Business Administration
    • Klingler College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Economics (call the Advising Center with questions at 414-288-5989)
    • Opus College of Engineering
    • Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

In addition, the assessment should be completed by any students intending to take any of the following calculus courses:

    • MATH 1400 Elements of Calculus
    • MATH 1410 Calculus for the Biological Sciences
    • MATH 1450 Calculus 1
    • MATH 1455 Calculus 2

When do I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

The Placement Assessment needs to be taken prior to registering for any Calculus course. The outcome of the assessment will be used in consultation with your advisor to inform your course registration. As a reminder, first-year student registration begins in early June.  You can find registration information on the SPARK website.

What if I plan to take an AP or IB test in May or later?

Credit by exam scores are typically not available until early July which is after the start of first-year student registration. If your intended program requires calculus, you must take ALEKS and not wait for exam scores. Math class availability is not guaranteed, and we want you to be in the best position to register for math. You will likely be able to change to a calculus course after we have received your AP or IB test score.

What if I completed an ALEKS PPL Assessment through another institution?

Students are required to complete the ALEKS PPL Assessment through Marquette University even if they already completed the assessment through another institution.  Completing the ALEKS PPL Assessment through Marquette will ensure that your complete assessment scores are automatically sent to your Marquette academic advisor.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS PPL?

No. Use of ALEKS is included in your student fees.

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 Marquette University. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for calculus. 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.

Am I able to get a disability accommodation for the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

Students who may need disability-related accommodations for the ALEKS PPL Assessment or when engaging with its learning modules should contact Marquette University’s Office of Disability Services.


Taking the Placement Assessment

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

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, and is a violation of Marquette University’s honor 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?

Yes, you have 3 hours to complete a Placement Assessment once it has begun. 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.

I am ready to start my ALEKS PPL Assessment. How do I begin?

Students who are required to complete the ALEKS PPL Assessment will receive an email that includes instructions and a link for accessing the assessment.  The email will be sent in mid-May to the email address used when applying to Marquette.

Additional information can be found at How Do I Complete My Math Placement Assessment?


Placement Result

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

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 is determined as follows:

Course #

Course Name

ALEKS Score Range

MATH 1400

Elements of Calculus

65 - 100

MATH 1410

Calculus for the Biological Sciences

75 - 100

MATH 1450

Calculus 1

75 - 100

Students who do not receive the minimum score required for their Calculus course should enroll in MATH 1200 Precalculus. 

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.
  • Your scores are automatically added to your student profile, which is accessible by your advisor.

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.

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 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 3 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

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

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

You will have twelve 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.

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.


Technical Support

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

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?


 Related Websites

How Do I Complete My Math Placement Assessment? (for students)

Viewing a Student's Math Placement Level (for advisers/staff)