How and When to take ALEKS PPL

ALEKS PPL

ALEKS = Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces.
PPL = Placement, Preparation and Learning.

ALEKS PPL is an assessment of readiness for Calculus I and lower math courses, testing skills across multiple topical areas, including numeric manipulations, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. It is an adaptive test: later test questions are selected based on responses to earlier questions. The initial placement assessment quickly and accurately determines what a student knows and doesn't know in precalculus. ALEKS PPL then provides a learning module that instructs students on the topics they are most ready to learn. The students’ scores improve with mastery of each topic in the learning module. ALEKS PPL provides an opportunity to let students know whether they are prepared to be successful in Calculus I and lower math courses. ALEKS PPL also provides an opportunity for students to become prepared and to refresh their precalculus skills. A student can even earn credit (specifically, in Math 1021) by a proctored ALEKS PPL score.

This page answers only the questions of how and when to take ALEKS PPL. For details on how ALEKS PPL provides another way to get placement or credit in Math 1021, 1022, 1023, 1431, 1530, 1550, and 1551, click on our Placement and Credit page.

How to sign up for ALEKS PPL:

To take ALEKS PPL, a student must first have an active “myLSU” ID. This is obtained once the student applies for admission to LSU. Once the student has obtained a myLSU ID, he or she can go to the myLSU page, log in, and navigate to the “ALEKS Math Placement Test” link, located under the Student Services tab. Students can see screen shots previewing the sign-up steps at https://grok.lsu.edu/article.aspx?articleid=16231. Once logged in and redirected to the ALEKS Corporation, the student will be required to submit a $25 payment via credit or debit card; cards from foreign countries are often not accepted. None of this payment goes to LSU. It is important that the student register for ALEKS PPL through myLSU, as this is the only way for the student’s ALEKS PPL score to get reported to LSU.

Proctoring ALEKS PPL

Students must take the assessment while utilizing Respondus Monitor. This proctoring program requires students to download the LockDown Browser, available at https://www.aleks.com/support/lockdown_system_requirements. This feature costs the student \$5 (which covers all 5 attempts at ALEKS PPL; see “Caution” below). The student must have a private, secure space in which to take the assessment without disruption, and proper equipment (see “Computer system requirements” below, as well as a webcam & microphone, which can be borrowed, if necessary, from another student or from a library or media center). A picture ID is also required. The student is recorded while taking the exam, and the system flags any student who had anomalies present during the exam (such as someone walking in the room, the student answering a phone, etc.). For details on how to use LockDown Browser with Respondus Monitor, or to review frequently asked questions, please visit https://mhedu.force.com/aleks/s/article/Respondus-LockDown-Browser-Information-and-Troubleshooting.

Caution: For technical reasons, after you take the assessment, the report on your score that ALEKS will give you will still say that your test was "unproctored."

Calculator policy

ALEKS PPL will provide an online calculator when needed. Use of any other calculator or technology is prohibited. Pencil and blank scratch paper are allowed, and will be helpful.

Two portals into ALEKS PPL: “Take the Placement [Assessment]” and “Prep and Learning Module”:

Upon entering ALEKS PPL through the above steps, the student will be directed to complete a readiness module before proceeding to the placement assessment. The placement assessment takes about 90 minutes. ALEKS PPL will automatically report the student’s assessment score to LSU overnight. After the student completes the assessment, ALEKS PPL presents a report listing the mathematics topics the student has a good command of, and a list of mathematics topics that the student has not yet mastered. If the student is not satisfied with his score, the student should not immediately attempt to re-take the assessment; rather, he should enter the ALEKS Prep and Learning portal (which by then will no longer be dimmed out). The student will have access to the Prep and Learning Module for 12 months starting from the first time he or she enters the module.

Do not confuse the “initial” assessment with the “progress” assessment:

In the Prep and Learning Module, in addition to short, easy-to-follow lessons, there is also something called an assessment, which is a practice or “progress” assessment mirroring the assessment for placement. Scores on the progress assessment do not get reported to LSU. During the 12-month Prep and Learning Module access period, the Prep and Learning Module and the progress assessment can be accessed without limit. After the student has mastered some new topics in the Prep and Learning Module, he may re-enter ALEKS through the “Placement Assessment” portal and take the assessment again. Again, the score earned there will be automatically reported to LSU (nightly).

Caution:

ALEKS PPL allows a student to take the placement assessment no more than 5 times during the 12-month period from the initial assessment (see “ALEKS PPL calendar” below).

The highest fresh initial score (not the last) is the one used to determine eligibility for taking any math course or for credit in any math course.

Initial ALEKS PPL score too low:

If a student’s score on the initial placement assessment is too low, he or she should proceed to the Prep and Learning Module and go through the lessons for several topics. Students should expect to require 2-3 hours' work on the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module lessons for each 1% increase in ALEKS Math PPL score needed. Once the score on the progress assessment is at the desired level, the student should retake the placement assessment.

When to take ALEKS PPL:

Here there are several factors to consider:

  1. ALEKS PPL tests students’ knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. Consequently, students currently taking LSU's Math 1022 or 1023, or taking a high school math course equivalent to Advanced Mathematics (precalculus version), Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, or any calculus course that includes trigonometry, should probably wait until they have completed or almost completed that course before beginning ALEKS PPL. Students who earn an A or B in such a course can expect to do well on the initial ALEKS PPL assessment; other students can also achieve a requisite ALEKS PPL score if they are prepared to spend sufficient time with the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module. (While precalculus courses will help prepare the student to take ALEKS PPL, the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module will, conversely, help a student master topics in his or her precalculus courses.)
  2. Students should take the ALEKS PPL assessment early enough to allow time to make sufficient progress in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module, if needed, or to schedule a lower math course.
  3. Incoming freshmen and incoming transfer students who are interested in taking Math 1021, 1022, 1023, 1431, 1530, 1550, or 1551 in their first semester at LSU should take ALEKS PPL before their LSU Orientation meeting, if possible, so that their counselors can place them into the right Math course.
  4. The student should choose the semester in which he or she plans to take Math 1021, 1022, 1023, 1431, 1530, 1550, or 1551 in the first column of the ALEKS PPL calendar below. The second column will then give a six-month freshness window; an ALEKS PPL score earned during that window will count as the prereq for Math 1021, 1022, 1023, 1431, 1530, 1550, or 1551 in that semester (and not necessarily in later semesters, even in the case where the student repeats the course).
  5. ALEKS PPL Freshness Window, by semester
    Semester in which student plans to take the desired Math course Freshness window for ALEKS PPL score to count for credit or placement that semester
    Fall 2021 Feb. 25, 2021 through Sept. 1, 2021
    Spring 2022 July 12, 2021 through Jan. 27, 2022
    Summer 2022 Nov. 24, 2021 through July 8, 2022
    Fall 2022 Feb. 23, 2022 through Aug. 31, 2022
  6. Before October 2021, we allowed students to provisionally schedule Math 1530, 1550, or 1551 without the requisite ALEKS PPL score, on the presumption that the student would soon achieve the requisite ALEKS PPL score. We no longer allow such provisional scheduling. Now a student can schedule Math 1530, 1550, or 1551 only after achieving the requisite ALEKS PPL score.

Computer system requirements:

See www.aleks.com/support/system_requirements.

Other ALEKS PPL Support:

See mhedu.force.com/aleks/s/.

Do I really need ALEKS PPL?

Q1. I have credit in Math 1021, 1022, 1023, 1431, 1530, 1550, or 1551, and I already have an ALEKS PPL score high enough to allow me to take one of these courses, but I earned a D in that course and need to repeat it. Do I need to re-take ALEKS PPL?
A1. Yes and no: Your score must be fresh (i.e., no more than 180 days old on the first day of classes in the course) for the semester in which you want to re-take the course. A score earned during certain periods can be fresh for two consecutive semesters, while scores earned in other periods may be fresh for only one semester. Recall the "ALEKS PPL calendar" above. If your score is stale for the semester when you want to re-take the course, then you must re-take ALEKS PPL.

Q2. If I have credit in Math 1552 and need to take Math 1550, do I still need ALEKS PPL?
A2. Yes.

Q3. If I want to take Math 1550 through LSU's Office of Online & Distance Learning, do I need ALEKS PPL?
A3. If you are an LSU student, then you must do ALEKS PPL; otherwise, ALEKS PPL is not required, and credit in Math 1022 or equivalent will suffice.

Q4. If I want to earn or if I have earned credit in Math 1530 or 1550 through AP Calculus courses taken in high school, through the CLEP or the IB math exam, through LSU's Calculus credit exam, or through transfer credit, do I need ALEKS PPL?
A4. No, unless you want to take Math 1530/1550 at LSU even after having earned credit in Math 1550. See tables at www.math.lsu.edu/ugrad/PlacementCredit.

Q5. I completed calculus in high school and am very good in math. I don't see why I need an ALEKS PPL score.
A5. You still need ALEKS PPL if you want to take Math 1530/1550/1551.

Miscellaneous questions about ALEKS:

Q1. Does ALEKS PPL give me credit in Math 1021, 1022, 1023, or any other course?
A1. The only course for which ALEKS PPL gives credit is Math 1021 (if the score is at least 61%).

Q2. I got an ALEKS PPL score of 82%, but do not feel confident about my precalculus skills (trig and college algebra). I know my ALEKS PPL score will let me schedule calculus, but should I?
A2. This is where you need to take charge. If it's just a case of nervousness, don't let the word "calculus" intimidate you. But if you really feel that you are not in command of trig or college algebra, then you could consider taking either Math 1021 (College Algebra), Math 1022 (Trig), or the combination course Math 1023 (5 hours). However, if you already have credit in any of these courses, consult an advisor about the rules for repeating courses.

Q3. Will my ALEKS PPL score (obtained through LSU as above) count as the prerequisite for a calculus course at another school?
A3. Probably not. Each school makes its own rules on prerequisites for its courses. You must meet the prereq stated in that school's catalog.

Q4. I paid for Chem Prep (an online course offered through the ALEKS platform as preparation (but not a prerequisite) for LSU's course, CHEM 1201). Do I have to pay again for ALEKS PPL for math credit or placement?
A4. ALEKS charges separately for each product you use, so, yes, you must pay for ALEKS PPL for Math credit or placement, even if you have already paid for the ALEKS Chem Prep product.

LSU Math contact person:

For non-technical, procedural questions about ALEKS PPL, contact Mrs. Soula O'Bannon, ALEKS PPL Coordinator, Department of Mathematics, 301B Lockett Hall, 225-578-1617, soula@math.lsu.edu.

Last updated November 28, 2021.