University of Maine at Machias Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) Mathematics Placement Process

Are you ready to start the ALEKS Mathematics Placement Process?
Questions? Please contact your faculty advisor or student mentor.

What is the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment?

The University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias) uses the online ALEKS Placement Assessment to assist in determining the best mathematics course for a student to enroll in. In addition to placement information, ALEKS provides learning modules to allow the student to brush up on math skills to boost their placement and prepare for courses.

Most students are encouraged to complete the assessment as soon as possible in order to benefit from the learning modules, and to retake the placement assessment if they choose. You can complete ALEKS at home, high school, at the UMaine Machias campus or any place convenient to you that has the needed computer and internet access.

A one-time charge of $25 will be added to your student bill when you first complete the ALEKS assessment. There is no additional charge for up to two additional assessments (if you would like to improve your score) or for the optional learning modules, which allow you to brush up on your skills between assessments.

Should I complete the ALEKS placement process?

In general, completing ALEKS can suggest which math course will be most beneficial for you at this point.

Students who are not transferring in a math course and whose math Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score is below 530 (or math American College Testing (ACT) score is below 21) will complete one of two math courses as part of the general education program (MAT 103 Algebraic Modeling or MAT 111 College Algebra) unless their ALEKS Assessment result demonstrates placement beyond those courses. So, if you would like to waive the MAT 103/111 requirement you should complete ALEKS if your SAT/ACT scores are below the cut-offs above and you are not transferring in any math courses.

In particular, if you planning to take Calculus as part of your academic program or are in the Nursing Pathways program you must complete ALEKS if your Math SAT score is below 530 (or ACT below 21) and you are not transferring in a course equivalent to College Algebra or higher. Even if your SAT or ACT score is above those cut-offs you may wish to complete ALEKS if you will be taking Calculus and wish to place beyond the Precalculus course.

What is involved in completing the ALEKS Assessment?

ALEKS is a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The Placement Assessment is up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete. After the Placement Assessment, an individualized Learning Module is available for students to refresh their knowledge on forgotten topics. Students then have the opportunity to reassess and improve their placement. 

ALEKS consists of three parts:

  • An Initial Placement Assessment 
  • The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review
  • Access to up to two additional Placement Assessments

We encourage each student to spend time in the Learning Module, even if the desired score is achieved, because time spent in ALEKS will ultimately lead to better preparation and improved grades.

It is important that the Placement Assessment is taken seriously and each student gives it an honest effort so that the Placement Assessment truly reflects their current level of math knowledge. There is no benefit to cheating on the Placement Assessment – the only result will be that a student enrolls in a class that is too difficult, or not challenging enough, potentially costing time and money. The purpose of the Placement Assessment is to give an accurate measure of a student’s current mathematical knowledge so that they will be successful in mathematics courses. For more information on intellectual honesty, students should consult the University of Maine Student Conduct Code (External Site).

What topics are covered in the ALEKS Assessment?

ALEKS is an adaptive system that covers a broad range of mathematics topics in order to identify which course is the best fit for you at this point. After you complete ALEKS the first time, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your placement.

Topics covered:

  • Real numbers (including fractions, integers, and percentages)
  • Equations and inequalities (including linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations),
  • Linear and quadratic functions (including graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas), exponents and polynomials (including integer exponents, polynomial arithmetic, factoring, and polynomial equations), rational expressions (including rational equations and rational functions
  • Radical expressions (including higher roots and rational exponents)
  • Exponentials and logarithms (including function compositions and inverse functions, properties of logarithms, and logarithmic equations)
  • Geometry and trigonometry (including perimeter, area, and volume, coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, and identities and equations).

What Computer Interface and Other Materials are Needed?

ALEKS Assessments are not proctored; ALEKS instead uses the Respondus Lock-down Browser during the administration of the assessment. Be aware that before you enter into the assessment, ALEKS will take you through the process of downloading and installing the lock-down browser on the computer you will be using. It is important that this computer has the necessary permissions that will allow you to download and install Respondus. Note that the Respondus Lock-down Browser is not compatible with Chromebook.

There are no required plug-ins or applets required with your use of ALEKS. 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 (External Site).

The questions in ALEKS are open-ended responses and require you to work out solutions with a paper and pencil before entering them into ALEKS. Be sure to have scratch paper with you. 

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, calculators are not permitted during the Placement Assessment.

What math course should I enroll in after completing ALEKS?

The math course you should enroll in depends on your ALEKS score as follows:

Score Range Course Placement
Below 30 MAT 103 or MAT 111 with workshop (4 credits)
30-60 MAT 103 or MAT 111 without workshop (3 credits)
61-75 Any math class numbered below MAT 126

(choice depends on major)

Above 75 MAT 126 or any math course at a lower number

Special Note for Nursing Students: If you score 45 or higher you are eligible to enroll in CHY 101 your first semester at UMaine Machias.  If your score is lower than 45 we encourage you to successfully complete a College Algebra course over the summer prior to starting the UMaine Machias Nursing Pathway.  Those students unable to meet the math prerequisite for CHY 101 will take MAT 111 their first semester rather than CHY 101.

Remember that you can complete ALEKS up to three times for no additional charge, as well as benefit from the learning modules. So if you would like a higher placement than your initial result, you are encouraged to complete the additional assessment opportunities.

I am ready to start my ALEKS Placement Assessment. How do I begin?

When entering the ALEKS math placement assessment you will see a screen which will ask you to enter your University of Maine System (UMS) ID and password. You will then be asked to accept the ALEKS terms of use. If after entering your University of Maine System ID and password you are not able to access the exam, check that your password is correct. If necessary, you can reset your password. If you are a new student, make sure you have activated your University of Maine System account (External Site).

Be sure that you start the ALEKS placement process at a time and place that you are confident will provide you with up to three hours of quiet, uninterrupted time. Most students complete ALEKS within 90 minutes, but you do not want to be rushed by other commitments or disturbed while completing the assessment.

Finally, be sure you have several pages of blank paper and a pencil or pen handy before starting.

You will see the link to start the ALEKS assessment at the bottom of this webpage.

Can I practice using the ALEKS system 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.

Who should I contact if I require a disability accommodation to complete the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

If a student requires additional accommodations such as the use of a screen reader, please contact University of Maine at Machias Student Accessibility Services.

May I use any 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 of Maine’s Student Conduct Code (External Site).

Can I review a question after I have 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 yet know.  

Are Placement Assessments timed?

The ALEKS Placement Assessment is limited to three hours. However, most students take 60-90 minutes to complete the ALEKS Placement Assessment.

What happens if I do not complete a Placement Assessment in the allotted time?

You will be given a placement result, but it may not be a true reflection of your abilities. You may want to retake the Placement Assessment.

Are you ready to start the ALEKS Mathematics Placement Process?

Click here to begin the ALEKS Assessment

Questions? Please contact your faculty advisor or student mentor.