Math Placement

NEW! ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA)
Available to new freshmen beginning spring 2017:

Western is in the process of implementing a new Math Placement Assessment (MPA) for 2017-18. Called ALEKS, this is an online, adaptive student assessment and learning system. The ALEKS system offers many benefits to students, including the advantages of individual access, 24/7, from virtually any web-linked computer, repeated assessments, and access to learning modules to help students refresh their knowledge. The ALEKS system will be available to new freshmen admitted spring quarter 2017 and is expected to be available to all students by summer quarter.

During the transition to ALEKS, new transfer students as well as continuing students will continue to be able to take the paper-based Math Placement Test (MPT) at our Testing Center, and those scores will remain valid for 5 years.

For MPA or MPT score interpretation and other math advising, contact the Math Department, the Testing Center or call 360-650-3080.

ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA)

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Most students, including transfer students, who plan to register for a course at Western that has a mathematics prerequisite must first take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA). The MPA also serves as a prerequisite for some courses in other departments such as Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Sciences and Studies, Geology, Physics and Science Education. Taking the MPA may save students both time and money.

Students must  activate their Universal Account in order to access ALEKS. Because this is an online assessment, students will need access to a computer and high speed internet connection. Have scratch paper and pencils handy, too.

ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) costs $35, and the charge will be added to your WWU student account after you complete the practice assessment; scroll down for additional information.

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Take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment

When do students take the Math Placement Assessment (MPA)?

Students may take the MPA any time after they activate their Universal Account. It is recommended that students take the MPA early, so as to allow time to work through the preparation and learning modules and to retake the MPA to improve their score. Students should complete the MPA at least two weeks before attending a new student orientation program. Please be aware that failure to take both MPA #1 (practice) and MPA #2 (official) before orientation will delay registration for a math course or other courses that require a math prerequisite, such as Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Physics and Science Education.

What does the Math Placement Assessment (MPA) cover? How long is it?

ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) MPA is an adaptive assessment instrument covering material from Basic Math through Precalculus. ALEKS is an untimed and individualized adaptive assessment designed to determine a student’s knowledge base in mathematics. Each Assessment has 30 questions and will take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete, and you will need to take a minimum of two assessments.  Note that assessment #2 (not #1) is the score that will count for math placement. Students have 72 hours to complete the MPA once they have started it.

ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) consists of 4 parts:

  • A Practice Math Assessment #1, which does not serve for math placement/registration.
  • The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review for those who want to improve their skills. Students must start this within 6 months of taking the practice math assessment.
  • Math Placement Assessment #2, which does serve for math placement at Western.
  • Access to 2 additional Math Placement Assessments.

How much does the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) cost?

The Math Placement Assessment package costs $35, and includes:

  • The Practice Math Assessment (MPA #1);
  • The Prep and Learning Module, an individualized, self-paced online review for those who want to improve their skills. Students must start this within 6 months of taking the practice math assessment;
  • A second (and official) Math Placement Assessment (MPA #2) that will serve for math placement at Western;
  • Access to 2 additional Math Placement Assessments (must be completed within one year of initial practice assessment).

The $35 charge will be added to the WWU Student Account automatically when a student completes the practice assessment, and is considered non-refundable.


ALEKS Sequence of MPA Requirements

  1. ALEKS Quick Interactive Tutorial
  2. ASSESSMENT # 1 PRACTICE 60-90 minutes – does not serve for math placement/registration.
  3. Time in Prep & Learning Module* - optional but encouraged.
  4. ASSESSMENT # 2 OFFICIAL - Scores valid for math placement/registration!
  5. 3 Hours in Prep & Learning Module* required prior to reassessment in MPA # 3.
  6. Students must access Prep & Learning Module (PLM) within 6 months of completing the practice assessment (#1) and then access is valid for 6 months from the PLM start date only.
  7. ASSESSMENT # 3 - Optional.
  8. 3 Additional hours in Prep & Learning Module* required prior to reassessment in MPA # 4.
  9. ASSESSMENT # 4 - Optional

* ALEKS Math Placement Assessment and the Prep and Learning Module access is valid for one year after completing MPA #1; after which time students will need to register and pay the fee again in order to have access or reassess.

Where can students get help with ALEKS if having technical problems?

If the web browser gets stuck or computer crashes while a student is taking the Placement Assessment, simply close the browser, or log out and log back in. ALEKS will resume the Placement Assessment exactly where the student left off, with no loss of the previous answers.

Additional Technical FAQ's

Support from ALEKS website

Accommodations for students with a documented disability

Students have up to 72 hours to complete ALEKS MPA, so extended time accommodations will not be necessary. For other accommodations DRS (DisAbility Resource Services) provides assistance and guidance to students with a documented disability to ensure equal access to all programs and services at Western.

Contact DRS

drs@wwu.edu
360.650.3083 (Voice)
360.255.7175 (VP)
360.650.3715 (Fax)


ALEKS Math Placement Assessment Scores for Math Courses

Students are admitted to mathematics courses based on MPA (or the former paper-based MPT) results as shown in the following Scaled Scores table (effective Spring 2017):

Math Placement Assessment (ALEKS)

Course

MPT General

MPT Advanced

 

Math 99

NA

NA

30

Math 107

145

143

30

Math 112

148

143

35

Math 240

147

143

35

Math 381

150

143

45

Math 114

153

143

45

Math 156

153

143

45

Math 160

153

143

60

Math 157

NA

149

65

Math 118

158

149

75

Math 124

NA

153

Students may use the MPA (or the former paper-based MPT) scaled results to serve as a prerequisite for registration for the following classes - (effective Spring 2017).

ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) Scores for other Departments:

Department

Course #

MPA Score Required

MPT General Score

MPT Advanced Score

ASTR

103

45

153

-

ASTR

113

45

153

-

BIOL

140

45

-

-

CHEM

121

65

158

149

CHEM

125

65

158

149

CSCI

140

45

-

-

CSCI

141

45

-

-

DSCI

205

60

-

-

ECON

140

45

-

-

ECON

206

45

153

-

ECON

207

45

153

-

ENRG

360

75

-

-

ENVS

201

45

153

-

ENVS

221

45

153

-

ESCI

302

65

158

149

ESCI

360

75

-

-

GEOL

101

45

153

-

GEOL

211

65

158

149

HNRS

209

45

153

-

PHYS

101

45

153

-

PHYS

102

45

153

-

PHYS

104

45

153

-

PHYS

114

75

-

153

SCED

201

45

153

-


Exceptions

Are there exceptions to the requirement for ALEKS Math Placement Assessment?

For access to certain math courses at WWU, some students do not need to take the MPA. If you are unsure whether you meet one of the following exceptions, contact the Department of Mathematics at (360) 650-3785. Note that taking the MPA might make you eligible for a higher level math course than is accessible by just using the exceptions below.

  • Western will continue to allow APTP Math Placement Test scores for students who entered Western prior to Fall 2017; scores are valid for 5 years from original test date.

  • The MPA is not required for entrance into Math 099 (Review Algebra – no degree credit).

  • Within one year of high school graduation, students who provide evidence of meeting the college readiness standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (Level 3 or higher) may enroll in Math 107 without taking the placement assessment. To receive permission to register for Math 107 without taking the MPA, students need to bring their Smarter Balanced Mathematics Assessment Results Family Report, provided by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, to the Math Department.

  • Students who earned a C- or better in a college Intermediate Algebra course within the last 5 years may register for Math 107 or Math 112 without taking the MPA.

  • Students who earned a C+ or better in the final course in a college Precalculus sequence may register for Math 124 (Calculus) without taking the MPA. Completing only the first course in such a sequence (i.e. Precalculus I) will not meet this requirement.

  • The MPA is waived for students who scored a three or higher on the College Board AP Calculus Exam. Students who scored a three or higher and who plan to take another Math course are advised to discuss their options with a Math advisor at (360) 650-3785. Exception: Students seeking admission to Honors Math 134 or Math 138 MUST take the MPA.

  • The MPA is waived for students who have college credit (and grade of C- or better) for a Calculus course equivalent to Math 124 (Calculus and Analytical Geometry).

  • Students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Education – Elementary or Special Education and have earned a C or better in a college Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, or Precalculus course within the last five years may, after admission to Western’s Elementary or Special Education programs, register for Math 381 without taking the MPA.

ALEKS FAQs

What are the MPA score requirements?

What if I took the former Math Placement Test (MPT)?

Students who took the former MPT can use those scores for math placement. MPA Score Requirements

Which math course is required for my program?

Please consult with Academic Advising or review these online tools and resources:  http://www.wwu.edu/advising/

What is the format of the questions on ALEKS?

ALEKS is not a multiple-choice test. 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.

What topics are covered during the ALEKS Assessment?

ALEKS is an online, adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. The length of the Placement Assessment will vary, but can be up to 30 questions. You will see some, but not all, of the math you have learned in high school. It is a Placement Assessment, not a preview of math courses at your institution. It is designed to identify if you are prepared for a particular course. After you take your first Practice Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to review and master additional topics to reassess and improve your official placement score. You must take the MPA a second time in order to place into an appropriate course.

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).

Can I practice using the ALEKS tools before I begin the Placement Assessment?

Your first assessment is a Practice Assessment (MPA#1), that will not count as an official score. ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial to make sure you are comfortable with the online math 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 input tools. Going to the tutorial during your Placement Assessment will NOT impact your Placement Assessment results.

Can I use a calculator or the internet for the ALEKS MPA?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator, if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator. Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – the result could be that you are placed into a class that is too difficult for your current level of mathematical knowledge, with a high potential for failure. 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.

I have taken the ALEKS MPA. How long before I can register for a math class?

Allow 24 hours for your ALEKS score to be loaded into the system after completing ALEKS. Remember that Assessment #1 does not count for purposes of registration. The day after you have completed Assessment #2 you should be able to register for any math course for which you qualify – within your scheduled registration timeframe.

When can I see my ALEKS MPA score?

You will be able to see your ALEKS placement score immediately after you finish the MPA.

What course should I take based on my score?

The math course you take usually depends on your intended major. You should consult the WWU catalog to see what math course is required for your intended program of study. Once you determine the course you need, visit the ALEKS Placement Scores page to see what ALEKS score is necessary to register for that course.

What if my score isn't high enough to take the course I need? Is there any other way to get into the course I want?

You should first try to work through the Prep and Learning modules to improve your MPA score. If you have already done that, you should take the course for which you qualify. There is no other way to get into the course for which you wish to qualify other than having met the course prerequisite.

When will my access to ALEKS “expire”? And how much does it cost to retake it if it “expires?”

ALEKS access is valid for one year from the initial practice assessment, but students must access a Prep & Learning Module (PLM) within 6 months of completing the practice assessment (#1). The cost to register again after the initial enrollment has expired is $35.

Prep and Learning Modules FAQs:

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?

No. Access to a Prep and Learning Module is included along with the additional Placement Assessments.

Am I required to work in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between Placement Assessments?

You can take the Placement Assessment up to four times – the practice assessment plus three additional assessments. The highest score (after the practice assessment) will be used for math placement. Students are required to work in a Prep and Learning Module for a specific amount of time prior to the third and fourth MPA to increase success.

  • #1 MPA – Practice MPA
  • #2 MPA – Official for placement; Prep & Learning Module advised but not required
  • #3 MPA - Requires 3 hours of work in a Prep and Learning Module and 72 hour wait.
  • #4 MPA - Requires 3 additional hours of work in a Prep and Learning Module and a 96 hour wait before this final assessment is attempted.

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 Plan so you can review them again.

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. Select the placement tab in the upper right corner of the ALEKS page to start a new Placement Assessment.

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

No! You may only use one Prep and Learning Module. Choose carefully; if you are unsure which module to select, use the module recommended by ALEKS or consult with the Math Department.


Math Placement Test (MPT Paper-Based) for Transfer and Continuing Students

Register for the MPT

Test Date Schedule

The MPT is given several times prior to registration (including at Summerstart and Transitions).

All administrations are at the Testing Center (333 32nd St., AC 120) unless otherwise posted.

NOTE: The fee for the Math Placement Test is nonrefundable.

Check below for test dates and time, as well as online registration.

General MPT Registration Information

  • The deadline to register and prepay online is midnight of the day before the test.
  • The non-refundable fee of $35 is payable online (Debit, Visa or MasterCard).
  • Students must bring Picture I.D., Student No., and a #2 pencil.
  • Test is timed for 60 minutes; however, please allow 90 minutes for entire administration.
  • Calculators may not be used on either the General or the Advanced test.
  • Students who do not preregister may still take the test subject to space availability; but must be prepared to pay at check-in. 

 

Who is required to take the MPT?

Most students, including transfer students, who plan to register for a math course at Western must first take the MPT; some exceptions apply (see "MPT Exceptions" information). The MPT score may also be used as an acceptable course prerequisite, in lieu of completing a math class, for some courses in other departments including Astronomy, Chemistry, Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Sciences and Studies, Geology and Physics. Taking the MPT may save students both time and money.

Students generally take mathematics courses at Western for one of the following two reasons:

  1. To fulfill Western’s requirement for a Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) course as part of the General University Requirements (GUR).

    Each undergraduate at Western must satisfy the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) part of the General University Requirements (GUR). The QSR requirement is generally satisfied by taking one or more math courses at Western or the approved equivalents from an accredited community college or baccalaureate institution. Students transferring with a Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) associate degree from a Washington state community college have generally already satisfied the QSR requirement.

  2. To fulfill major, minor, certification or prerequisite requirements – verify by program-of-study.

    Many academic programs, such as business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), and pre-professional pathway programs (pre-med, pre-dentistry, pre-pharmacy, etc.) require additional math course work beyond the QSR requirement. Students interested in these academic programs should begin their math course work in their first quarter at Western so as not to delay progress in their major. If unsure whether or not an intended academic program requires further math coursework, students should review degree requirements listed by the Program of Study.

For some courses, departments such as Astronomy, Chemistry, Decision Sciences, Economics, Environmental Sciences and Studies, Geology and Physics may accept an adequate MPT score in lieu of the math course prerequisite.

When should I take the MPT?

Western recommends that students take the MPT while attending an orientation program (Transitions, Summerstart, or the Advising and Orientation programs offered each quarter during the academic year.)  Register for the test (online) separately when making your advising and orientation program reservation. 

For students currently enrolled at Western or those students who are unable to attend an orientation program, you may take the MPT at your earliest convenience when you are in Bellingham.  Please see “What are the test MPT dates?” for upcoming test opportunities.

Which MPT should I take?

There are two levels of the MPT, General and Advanced.

You should take the Advanced test only if you aim to take calculus as your first math course at Western and you have completed high school math through math analysis or pre-calculus.

All other students should take the General test.

Students who are uncertain about which test to take should call Western’s Mathematics Department at (360) 650-3785 for advising.

How can I prepare for the MPT?

Taking the test early, while your skills are current, is recommended, particularly if you plan to take math during your first quarter at Western.

You are encouraged to review your mathematical skills prior to the test, since such review will help you be successful at Western and the resulting score will determine your math placement. Review the test topics below and then practice the sample problems.

General Test Topics

  • A. To place into Math 112 or 107:
    • Basic operations with rational numbers and expressions, radical expressions, exponents, polynomials;
    • Solve linear equations and inequalities;
    • Graph linear equations;
    • Factor and solve quadratic equations;
    • Solve applied problems in above areas.
  • B. To place into Math 114, 118, 156, 160, 240, 381:

    Meet requirements of "A" above, plus:

    • Solve equations involving linear and quadratic expressions and absolute values;
    • Graph linear and quadratic functions and functional notation;
    • Solve both linear and nonlinear equations and inequalities;
    • Solve equations involving rational and radical expressions;
    • Solve applied problems in above areas.

Advanced Test Topics

This test is appropriate only for students expecting or seeking to take a calculus course.

  • C. To place into Math 157:

    Meet requirements of "A" and "B" above, plus:

    • Graph polynomial and rational functions by finding real zeroes and asymptotes;
    • Graph exponential and logarithmic functions;
    • Solve linear and non-linear systems of equations and inequalities;
    • Solve applied problems in above areas.
  • D. To place into Math 124:

    Meet requirements of "A," "B," and "C" above, plus:

    • Graph trigonometric functions and inverses using radian or degree measure;
    • Verify trigonometric identities;
    • Use laws of sine and cosine to solve problems involving triangles;
    • Solve applied problems in above areas.

What are the MPT score requirements?

Students are admitted to mathematics courses based on MPT results as shown in the following Scaled Scores table (effective Fall 2016):

Course

General Test

Advanced Test

Math 99 NA NA
Math 107 145-168 143-161
Math 112 148-168 143-161
Math 240 147-168 143-161
Math 381 150-168 143-161
Math 156 153-168 143-161
Math 114 or 160 153-168 143-161
Math 118 158-168 149-161
Math 157 NA 149-161
Math 124 NA 153-161

Can I retest?

A student may take each level of the MPT, General and Advanced, twice (first-time and one retest) within any one-year period, with a minimum two-week wait between test and retest. A fee is required for each retest. Our goal is for students to be successful in math studies; before retesting students should consider either taking a math course in which they can place, or studying independently to improve their skills. Students who do poorly on the Advanced MPT should consider taking the General MPT instead.

Are there MPT exceptions?

For access to certain math courses at WWU, some students do not need to take the MPT. If you are unsure whether you meet one of the following exceptions, contact the Department of Mathematics at (360) 650-3785.

  • The MPT is not required for entrance into Math 099 (Review Algebra – no degree credit).

  • Within one year of high school graduation, students who provide evidence of meeting the college readiness standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (Level 3 or higher) may enroll in Math 107 without taking the placement test. To receive permission to register for Math 107 without taking the MPT students need to bring their Smarter Balanced Mathematics Assessment Results Family Report, provided by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, to the Math Department.

  • Students who received a score of at least 480 on the SAT (Math) or 18 on the ACT (Math), may register for Math 107 or Math 112 without taking the MPT; but we strongly recommend taking the MPT to place into a higher level class, if appropriate.

  • Students who earned a C- or better in a college Intermediate Algebra course within the last 5 years may register for Math 107 or Math 112 without taking the MPT.

  • Students who earned a C+ or better in the final course in a college Precalculus sequence may register for Math 124 (Calculus) without taking the MPT. Completing only the first course in such a sequence (i.e. Precalculus I) will not meet this requirement.

  • The MPT is waived for students who scored three or higher on the College Board AP Calculus Exam. Students who scored a 3 or higher and who plan to take another Math course are advised to discuss their options with a Math advisor at (360) 650-3785. Exception: Students seeking admission to Honors Math 134 or Math 138 MUST take the Advanced MPT.

  • The MPT is waived for students who have college credit for a Calculus course equivalent to Math 124 (Calculus and Analytical Geometry).

  • Students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Education – Elementary or Special Education and have earned a C or better in a college Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, or Precalculus course within the last five years may, after admission to Western’s Elementary or Special Education programs, register for Math 381 without taking the MPT.
Page Updated 02.27.2017