Mathematics Placement Information

Towson University requires all entering freshmen and most transfer students to take the online ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning Assessment (ALEKS PPL) to ensure the best chance of success in an appropriate mathematics course. The ALEKS score will not affect the status of a student’s admission to Towson University, but a delay in taking the placement test is likely to delay the student's registration for classes. Thus, new students admitted for the upcoming term should take the assessment as soon as possible after returning their enrollment contracts. 

What Is ALEKS PPL?

ALEKS is a mathematics assessment and preparation tool. The assessment is designed to identify the best mathematics course for you to start in, given the mathematics requirements of your major. The ALEKS PPL consists of:

  • An initial online placement assessment;
  • The Preparation and Learning Module—an individualized, self-paced online review, generated upon completion of the first assessment attempt;
  • Access to one additional online placement assessment;
  • Opportunity to take additional attempts on campus, after required review work is completed.

The assessment consists of approximately 30 questions, designed to pinpoint for Towson University where you should start your mathematics pathway, depending on the mathematics requirements of your major.  It takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, and you have a 24-hour window to complete it.

After your initial assessment, ALEKS constructs a personalized learning module based on your performance. The learning module provides you the opportunity to review and master certain topics prior to retaking ALEKS to improve your placement, if you wish. Alternatively, you can just accept the score and use the learning module to brush up and be better prepared for the first course you enter. Towson University encourages you to do so.

What Are The Rules?

Take the assessment honestly and to the best of your ability in order for ALEKS:

  • to accurately assess your mathematical knowledge so that your advisor can place you in the right first mathematics course; and
  • to build the most accurate learning module for your specific needs, should you choose to use that for review.

To "take the assessment honestly" means you must not consult any outside resources for help (friends/family, internet sites, notes, texts, etc.). You don’t even need a calculator because the assessment will provide an online one for items that allow its use. You only need scratch paper and a pencil.

Cheat only if you want to end up in a class for which you are unprepared and in which you will likely fail! Dishonesty is also a violation of the Towson University Student Academic Integrity Policy (PDF).

How Does My Score Determine My Course Placement?

The score alone does not determine which mathematics course you will be placed in. The mathematics requirements of your major determine what you must ultimately take—that is a decision that you will make with the help of your academic advisor. ALEKS determines if you are eligible for that course or if you must start at an earlier point in our mathematics pathways (PDF). If your ALEKS score does not qualify you for the course you need, you must enroll in the prerequisite course, or you may review in the learning module and retake the assessment. We have a special page that displays the most common pathways and the current cut scores used to determine course eligibility within those pathways. For continuing students, scores on the former math placement test (BAT/CRT) can still be applied to determine placement in mathematics courses—see the old cut scores.

Can I Retake ALEKS If I Don't Like My Score?

Yes! Hopefully you did the best you could, so that the learning (review) module that ALEKS constructed for you accurately targets your areas for improvement. In order to access the second online attempt, you must wait at least 48 hours after completing the first attempt and spend at least 5 hours working in the learning module.

If you are unhappy with your second score, you may email the mathematics department at to make an appointment for a third attempt. You must spend at least 5 hours in the learning module between attempts. All attempts after the second will be taken on campus.  

Do ALL Students Really Have to Take ALEKS?

Students with college level mathematics course credit (AP or transfer coursework) may be exempt from taking the mathematics placement test:

  • If a chosen major has no specific mathematics requirement and the AP/transferred college level mathematics coursework satisfies Core 3 of Towson University's Core Curriculum, the student is exempt from ALEKS.
  • If transferred coursework either satisfies the specific mathematics course required of the major, or it satisfies the prerequisite course for mathematics requirements, the student is exempt from ALEKS.
  • If AP credit is awarded for Calculus or transferred credit is equivalent to Towson University’s MATH 115 College Algebra or MATH 119 Pre-Calculus (or higher), the student is exempt from ALEKS.
  • If none of the above three cases applies, the student must take ALEKS.

Even if exempt from ALEKS, the student may choose to take the assessment for their own advisement and at no risk. After ALEKS is taken for the first time, the system identifies gaps in the student's knowledge and generates a learning module tailored to his/her needs. The student is then welcome to work in the learning module and has a year to do so. 

I Am Ready. How Do I Take ALEKS?

ALEKS is a web-based program and runs on most computers, browsers, and tablets.  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.  You can review the list of preferred browsers on the official ALEKS website.  

  1. Be sure to have paper and pencil with you and nothing else—no calculator, no friends, no family, no nothing! Just you and your writing instruments.
  2. Remember:
    ◊  You have 24 hours during which you can log out and log back in. But you must complete the assessment within 24 hours. You will know you completed it when you see your score and your “learning pie."
    ◊  You cannot go backwards. That is, you cannot return to items after you complete them, because the system is adaptive. Therefore, make sure you carefully check your answer before submitting your response.

    ◊  It is okay if you just don’t know. You are likely to encounter material you never learned. On those questions, it is appropriate to select “I don’t know.”  If you have any familiarity with a question, however, try your best. The adaptive nature of ALEKS is always using your responses to pinpoint what you know and don’t know.

  3. Go to the login page and use your Towson University NetID as your user login and the password you have chosen for you campus e-mail as your password. 
  4. After logging in, you will take a very brief survey and sit through a short tutorial on using the ALEKS interface. Then your assessment will begin.
  5. Good luck!

If you have any technical problems, please contact ALEKS's online support or call their support line at 1-800-258-2374.

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