the placement test is designed to assess your mathematics skills and assist you and your academic adviser in selecting the most appropriate courses to sign up for at psu. 

determine if you need to take the math placement test

you do not need to take the math placement test if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • completed a college-level math course (level 100 or above) at a college, university or high school (for dual credit) within the past 12 months with a grade of c- or better
  • completed calculus i or above with a c- or better
  • earned the scores below on an advanced placement (ap) or international baccalaureate (ib) test:
    • calculus ab or bc: test score of 3 or higher 
    • ib math test: high level

if you do not meet any of the criteria stated above and you are declaring one of the majors specified below then you should complete the math placement test prior to signing up for orientation. you are planning to major in biology, biochemistry, business (all concentrations), civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, chemistry, earth science, economics, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, environmental science, environmental studies, geology, health studies, mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics, psychology or are pursuing one of the pre-health tracks.

taking the math placement test

the math placement test is free and completed in aleks, a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. it uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what you know, don't know and are ready to learn. this means that the aleks assessment is unique for every student. 

you can take the test on a campus computer or personal computer with internet access, the most recent version of java and these system requirements

the test consists of 25 to 30 questions, average completion time is about 90 minutes. you will have 48 hours to complete the test; if not completed in this time frame, that test will become unavailable. when you log in you will be given a new test. aleks automatically saves all progress, so the test does not have to be completed in one sitting. you can log back in anytime within the 48 hour period to complete it.  

aleks does not use multiple choice, but instead uses input tools in which you type or graph your answer. before beginning the assessment, aleks will walk you through a quick tutorial on how to use the system, including inputting your answers, using the graphing tool and using the calculator provided.

you should only use the resources provided by aleks to complete the test. you should not use textbooks, websites, friends, family or a personal calculator. incorrect use of these resources may gain you entry into a course for which you are not prepared.

the goal of this test is to assess your current skills so that you and your adviser can help you register for the appropriate math courses. if you are not satisfied with your score, you may retake the test. you are required to complete learning modules before retaking the placement test.

all placement results expire after one year, so you should register for your course within a year of taking the placement test.

take the test

access the aleks math placement test and learning modules

  1. if you are not already signed in to the psu single sign-on system, you will be prompted to enter your odin login and password.  your account is valid for one year after initially accessing the aleks system, even if you didn't begin or complete a test. you can regain access to your account by contacting aleks support and providing them with your account code (begins with "spdx" and displays at the top of the error message).
  2. if you are taking the test on a personal computer you will need to install a plugin to run aleks. when prompted, install the plugin. if you are having any technical difficulties, contact aleks support (800-258-2374).
  3. complete the test
  4. wait at least one hour after completion of the test to register for classes—the system needs one hour to process and record your scores in your records.

interpret your score

after you’ve completed the test, you will see a detailed chart of your topic mastery and your score.  

  1. review the table below. it outlines the courses you are eligible to enroll in based on your score. print or write down your results and take note of the courses you are eligible to enroll in based on your score. you cannot enroll in any courses above your score range, but you can enroll in courses below your score range.
  2. bring your score and notes to orientation and your advising sessions. 
score course placement
0-29 if you score 0-29 on the placement test you have two options:
use the learning module in aleks to refresh on the skills and retake the test. a few weeks of refreshing and then retaking the placement test may help you earn a higher score. or
enroll at psu as a co-admit and to prepare you to get a score of 30 or higher on the test take the appropriate courses with one of our partner community colleges.
30-45 mth 095: intermediate algebra
46-60 mth 105: excursions in mathematics
mth 111: introductory college mathematics i
mth 211: foundations of elementary mathematics i
stat 105: elementary data analysis
stat 241: application of statistics for business
stat 243: introduction to probability and statistics i
61-75 mth 112: introductory college mathematics ii
ch 221: general chemistry
76-100 mth 251: calculus i
ece 101: exploring electrical engineering
ece 102: engineering computation
ece 103: engineering programming
ece 171: digital circuits
ph 201: general physics
ph 231: general physics for life sciences/medicine

retaking the placement test

if you are not satisfied with your score, you may retake the test. the test will become available again 24 hours after your previous test. the placement test can be retaken up to four times. you are required to complete at least 3 hours in the prep and learning module before retaking the placement test. this will help maximize your score and likelihood of placing into your preferred course. the more time spent, the higher the likelihood of course placement and course success. 

enroll in mathematics or statistics courses

once you complete your test, your score will automatically be loaded into psu’s student information system (allow for at least one hour for your score to be loaded before registering for classes).

once your registration window opens, you can enroll in the courses you were placed into. all placement results expire after one year, so you should register for your course within a year of taking the placement test. 

prep and learning modules

the prep and learning modules will help you further prepare for your courses, help you place into your preferred courses, and can significantly improve your success and course performance. while meeting the cutoff score for your preferred course is a good start, that does not guarantee success in your classes. using the prep and learning module will increase your preparation for courses, making you more likely to succeed and support long-term mathematical success.

while working in a prep and learning module, you will periodically complete a “knowledge check”, this is how the system determines if you have mastered the topics. the knowledge check is not the placement test. you must retake the placement test to change your placement results.


contact the disability resource center, they will work with the department of mathematics and statistics to determine the best way to adjust aleks to fit your needs. 


for questions about taking the placement test contact
for technical difficulties using aleks, contact aleks support

academic advisers

please refer to  math placement advising for interpretation of placement test scores in banner soatest.