ALEKS Assessment for MATH 150A, MATH 135, and MATH 130

For Fall 2023, CSUF is offering the ALEKS PPL (Placement, Preparation, and Learning) system for the placement of first-time freshmen into MATH 150A (Calculus I), MATH 135 (Business Calculus) and MATH 130 (A Short Course in Calculus/Calculus for the Natural Sciences). MATH 150A is required for math, physics, chemistry, engineering and computer science majors, and MATH 135 is required for business majors. Biological and geological science majors can opt to take MATH 130 or MATH 150A.


Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS PPL Assessment is free to use once you sign up with us. It utilizes artificial intelligence to assess a student’s Calculus readiness. It then provides each student with a set of individualized online modules to complete prior to being reassessed for Calculus readiness. In all, there are four such assessments. The first one, that you should take ASAP, assesses your current preparation for calculus, identifies any areas of weakness, and provides you with modules to work on prior to taking a second assessment. This process is repeated three times. Between any two ALEKS assessments, you will need to spend time on the ALEKS learning modules to refresh and improve your math skills. The amount of time needed on these modules will vary depending on your math background, but you should expect to spend a few hours per day for about two weeks to complete all modules. Each of the assessments has a two-hour time limit. Note that there is a 48-hour waiting period between each assessment. Each Placement Assessment is up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete. Therefore, the timeline is as follows:

  • Complete the initial ALEKS Placement Assessment, which is timed for 2 hours.
  • Work through the first ALEKS Learning Module for at least five hours to refresh and improve your math skills.
  • Complete the 2nd ALEKS Placement Assessment, which is timed for 2 hours.
  • Work through the next ALEKS Learning Module for at least five hours to refresh and improve your math skills.
  • Complete the 3rd ALEKS Placement Assessment, which is timed for 2 hours.
  • Work through the next ALEKS Learning Module for at least five hours to refresh and improve your math skills.
  • Complete the 4th ALEKS Placement Assessment, which is timed for 2 hours. Your score on this assessment will be your official Math Placement score.
  • You must complete the 4th ALEKS Placement Assessment at least one week prior to your Freshman Orientation date.


After you take an assessment, ALEKS will suggest which modules you should work on to improve your score. It is important that you take the Placement Assessment seriously and give it an honest effort so that it truly reflects your current level of knowledge and math preparedness. There is no benefit to cheating on the Placement Assessment – the only result will be that you enroll in a class that you are not prepared for and set yourself up for a likely failure. Therefore, while taking the Placement Assessment, you should work on your own, without consulting any outside sources for help (friends/family, internet searches, textbooks, notes, etc.). CSUF's academic integrity policy ( in new window ) applies to the ALEKS Assessment.





Who should take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

All first-time freshmen who plan to enroll in calculus (MATH 130, MATH 135 or MATH 150A) who are majoring in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, or majoring in Business or Economics.

Sorry, the test is NOT available to incoming freshmen who have not declared a major, non-first-time freshmen, international students, or students outside the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the College of Engineering and Computer Science or Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. 

Why should 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. 

Are ALEKS PPL Assessments timed?

Yes, each assessment has a 2 hour limit time.

When do I take the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

You should complete the fourth ALEKS Assessment at least one week before your Freshman Orientation date. 

How much does ALEKS PPL cost?

It's FREE for all first time freshmen who are qualified. 

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 for you to use 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: in new window  

What topics are covered during the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

The Calculus Placement Assessments consist of the following topics:

  • Rational Expressions and their Graphs
  • Exponents and Radicals
  • Polynomials
  • Geometric Applications
  • Functions
  • Linear Equations & Inequalities, Absolute Values
  • Logarithmic & Exponential Equations
  • Trigonometry 

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.



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. It is a violation of the university’s academic integrity policy ( in new window ). 

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, each assessment has a two-hour time limit. 

How do I start ALEKS?

You may log into the ALEKS test site by clicking on the ALEKS icon or link on your CSUF student portal. Once logged into the portal, search on the left menu under “more apps” or enter ALEKS in the search box.

How do I get my results?

Upon completing your 4th ALEKS assessment, you will receive an email detailing which math course to enroll in for the Fall term. Your ALEKS results are valid for one year (fall and then spring semesters).

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 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.



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

You will have six 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 free along with all the 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.



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?

Student peer mentors:

Support for ALEKS System can be found in the following links in new window  and in new window