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Mathematics online placement testing

Help us maximize your success in mathematics courses at Saint Martin’s by finding out which math courses fit you best.*

* Please note: if you are a Vet2Tech applicant, the following set of instructions do NOT apply to  you - you are NOT eligible to take the math placement at the web address given below. Please email for directions on how to meet your math requirements for the Vet2Tech program.

Mathematics Placement Assessment

Saint Martin’s University requires an ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment to determine readiness for mathematics courses. 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:

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

Saint Martin’s 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.

What is the purpose of placement testing?

The Placement Assessment results will be used to determine the most appropriate courses for each student as they move forward with college coursework. After taking a Placement Assessment, students should meet with their advisor to review their results and enroll in the best classes based on their scores.

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. 

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.

Schedule your Placement Assessment by contacting the Center for Student Success to arrange proctoring at or by calling 360-438-4569.


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 Assessment, your score is sent to the Director of Mathematics Placement. They will review your score to determine your placement so you can work with your advisor to register for the correct mathematics course.

Who has to take the ALEKS PPL Assessment? 

All incoming students must take the Placement Assessment EXCEPT in the following circumstances:

  • You have already earned transferable college credit in a math course equivalent to one at Saint Martin's which also satisfies the math requirements of your intended major (or serves as a prerequisite to those needed for your major).
  • You have passed the AP Calculus AB exam with a score of 4 or better.
  • You have passed the AP Calculus BC exam with a score of 3 or better.

Please note that any student can take COR 130: Quantitative reasoning or applied mathematics or MTH 100: Math Lab without taking the Placement Assessment. Please talk to your academic advisor to find out if either of these courses meets your needs.

When do I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

Contact the Center for Student Success to schedule the Placement Assessment.

  • To make the most of your advising session at orientation, plan to take the Placement Assessment at least one week before summer or winter orientation.
  • You must take the Placement Assessment at least one week before you plan on registering for classes and/or one week before the beginning of the semester.
  • If you are re-taking the Placement Assessment, please see the instructions below.
Preparation schedule
Semester attendingDates
Summer 2024December 1, 2023 - May 1, 2024
Fall 2024March 1, 2024 - August 1, 2024
Spring 2025July 1, 2024 - December 1, 2024

Are ALEKS PPL Assessments proctored and where can I take my Placement Assessment?

  • Yes, we require students to take the Placement Assessment in a proctored environment.
  • Proctoring will be provided by the Center for Student Success. Please contact them to arrange proctoring at or by calling 360-438-4569.
  • Students will be placed into a single testing room during the duration of the exam. Each room is equipped with CCTV that will be monitored by the Proctor. All forms of Academic Dishonesty will be reported to the Math Placement Director and the Office of the Provost.  
  • The Center for Student Success is located in the Lower Level of the O’Grady Library. Secured lockers are available to use while testing to store your belongings.

Is there a fee for using ALEKS PPL? 

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 Saint Martin’s University. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take your first Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and potentially 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 (only available on select problems), 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.

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 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?

Yes, you have 2 hours to complete a Placement Assessment once it has begun.

What happens if I do not complete a Placement Assessment in the allotted time?

You will be given a placement result based on what you have completed, but it will not be a true reflection of your abilities. 

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

Contact the Center for Student Success.

What is my placement result? 

Your placement result consists of an overall score between 0 and 100, as well as sub-scores between 1 and 100 in 11 areas. These scores represent the percentage of topics ALEKS has identified you have mastered.

Course placement is determined by the Director of Mathematics Placement based on both your overall score and your sub-scores.

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.
  • An interpretation of your score will be provided by the Mathematics Placement Director within a week of you taking the exam. This interpretation will also be made available to your advisor.

How long is my placement result valid?

Your placement result is valid for up to 12 months.

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.

Which math course is required for my program?

Your program may require math courses in two different ways: 1) as listed requirements for the program, 2) as prerequisites for listed requirements for the program. Therefore, you should discuss this with your advisor to be sure you aren’t overlooking required math courses for your program.

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 increase your chances of succeeding and excelling in your class.

Can I retake the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

Yes, you may take up to 4 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. You are required to spend at least 8 hours working in your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module before you will be allowed to retake the Placement Assessment. Additionally, you must wait 1 week between Placement Assessments.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?

You must wait 1 week 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.

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 one Prep and Learning Module is included along with the 4 additional Placement Assessments. (If you wish to access Prep and Learning Modules beyond the first one you placed into, you will have to pay for those.)

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. (Your best result will be used for math placement). Students are required to work in the Prep and Learning Module for 8 hours prior to each Placement Assessment to increase success.

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. Contact the Center for Student Success to schedule your Placement Assessment retake.

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

No. You may only use the Prep and Learning Module you are placed in by your first result. If you wish to work in additional modules, you will have to pay for those.

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?

ALEKS support form

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