Placement Assessment

Western Michigan University requires an ALEKS mathematics placement assessment to determine readiness for various courses. The ALEKS Placement Assessment covers material from Basic Math through Precalculus and will take approximately 90 minutes to complete. After the assessment, a targeted Prep and Learning Module is available for you to review and learn material, and to improve placement and eventual course outcomes. For this reason it is vitally important that you take the assessment as soon as possible. Leaving yourself time to remediate your skills prior to registering for classes is the best way to use this assessment tool. If you wait to take the ALEKS assessment until you need to register for classes you will not have time to work in the learning modules and you will have missed an important opportunity to shorten your timeline to graduation.

All students are strongly encouraged to spend several hours using the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module. 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.

About aleks

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a subject. ALEKS then provides access to training/learning modules on the topics s/he is most ready to learn. As a student works through these materials, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS is very complete in terms of its topic coverage and it avoids multiple-choice questions.

First of all, RELAX. This is an “assessment,” NOT A TEST. The difference is that an assessment is designed to determine what you know. 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. There is really no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the assessment. The most important thing is that you take the assessment seriously and give it an honest effort so that the assessment truly reflects your level of knowledge and math preparedness.

Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – your only reward will be that you are forced to take 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 (friends, family, internet searches, etc.). The purpose of the placement assessment is to give an accurate measure of your current mathematical skills so that you will be successful in your mathematics courses. Likewise do not use a calculator for any problem on the test unless it is the calculator tool included in the ALEKS software. There are questions where you will not have access to the calculator tool. That is because you are being prompted not to use a calculator on that problem.

Who has to take the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

All students who have not transferred a math course to WMU and wish to take any of the courses listed below.

  • Algebra 1 (Math 1100)
  • Algebra 2 (Math 1110)
  • Precalculus (Math 1180)
  • Calculus 1 (Math 1220)
  • Calculus 1 for Science and Engineering (Math 1700)
  • Excursions in Mathematics (Math 1140)
  • Finite Mathematics (Math 1160)
  • Number Concepts for Elementary/Middle School Teachers (Math 1500)
  • Calculus with Applications (Math 2000)

Is there a fee for using ALEKS?

Western Michigan University will cover the cost of taking the assessment. Since your score is good for only 2 years, waiting to take a math class is not recommended. Once the score expires you will need to re-take the assessment at your own expense.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

Yes, you may take up to five [5] placement assessments in the first year. 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. After that year, additional assessment administrations will be at the student’s expense.

Are ALEKS Placement Assessments proctored?

No, but it is vitally important that you understand, using outside sources to help you solve problems will inevitably place you into a class that you are not prepared to take or, at the very least, will result in being assigned to a prep and learning module that does not cover material you need to review. This results in an inaccurate placement on future assessment administrations.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?

Not quite. 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 you may have forgotten or to learn new material. Therefore, you must spend at least 5 hours of work in the prep and learning modules before the system will allow you to take another assessment. NOTE: Our data indicate that students who eventually improve their placement via this assessment will start to consistently place higher once they have completed approximately 10 hours of work in the prep and learning modules.

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

Yes, for 5 hours between placement assessments.

Are placement assessments timed?

Yes, you have 2 hours to complete a placement assessment once it has begun.

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. There will be a maximum of 30 questions and the assessment will automatically terminate after 2 hours.

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. Please keep in mind that graphing calculators frequently have algebra protocols that are programed into the device. This allows students to rely more heavily on the calculator and not on their understanding of the material. This can also result in higher placement scores and inevitably lead to poor performance. NOTE: On some questions you may find you do not have access to the calculator tool. That is because you are being prompted to solve the problem without a calculator.

What happens if I do not complete a placement assessment in the allotted time?

Since the incomplete assessment is timed, you will be given a placement result, but it may underestimate your true ability. Your option is to work in the prep and learning module, improve your skills and re-take the assessment at a later date.

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 may lead to improper placement and ultimately course failure. This rule cannot be over stated. It is vitally important that you take the assessment seriously and honestly in order to produce an accurate placement score.

What is my placement result?

Your placement result is your percentage mastery on the latest assessment. If you take the assessment more than once your placement is determined by the highest assessment score. Course placement is determined as follows:



Course Placement


Math 1090


Math 1100


Math 1110, 1140, 1160, 1500 Stat 1600, Stat 3660


Math 1180, 2000


Math 1220, 1700





Course Placement



Math 1220, 1700

How long is my placement result valid?

Your placement result is valid for two (2) years

Can I practice using ALEKS before I begin placement?

ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial before your placement begins. This does not mean you are preparing to answer questions on the assessment itself. Most students want to prepare to take the assessment, but given there are such a wide range of topics, students will not be able to adequately prepare for the first assessment. This is why it is strongly suggested that you take the assessment well in advance of the need to register for classes. Plan on taking the assessment more than once. While the first assessment will give accurate information about your mathematical skill set, it also targets your weaknesses. Working in the learning modules provides an opportunity to improve your skills, improves placement, and results in fewer math courses overall.

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

You will have one (1) year 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 five [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.

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

No, you may only use one Prep and Learning Module. ALEKS will automatically place you into the most appropriate module for your assessed skill level.

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.

How do I begin using ALEKS?

If you are registered with Disability Services for Students (DSS), contact them for an ALEKS code and directions for accessing the correct cohort.

If you are not registered with DSS, access your GoWMU account. Select the “Student Home” tab at the top of the screen. Under My Self Service find the “ALL LINKS” drop down menu. You can use the search feature to search for “ALEKS Math Placement Assessment”. You will be prompted to provide a code in order to access the assessment. If you are registered with Disability Services for Students (DSS), contact them for an ALEKS code and directions for accessing the correct cohort.  The case sensitive code is FIVE69SUMMER. When the ALEKS screen comes up, click on the blue box and follow the directions. You will be asked to answer a few questions and then to complete the tools tutorial. Then the assessment will start.

Contact information

For questions about ALEKS technical issues or mathematics placement contact Steven Culver, Department of Mathematics, (269) 387-4517.

For questions regarding the impact of math placement on your course schedule, contact an advisor in the academic advising office of the college that houses your major.

Transferred courses

If no standardized tests are available or if they are outdated, previously completed coursework at another college or university can be used. Check the transfer credit equivalency page to confirm how your courses will transfer to WMU from any Michigan community college or university. Coursework completed at an out-of-state college or university will need to be evaluated by the department. Send a course description and an unofficial transcript via email to Steven Culver to have your courses evaluated.

College Level Examination Program

We use the CLEP for those who have taken this test.